As they say in Moulin Rouge: Jealousy can drive you mad. But Amadeus does not tell of a jealousy of love – but of talent. And it does so in the most inspiring and captivating way.
Amadeus doesn’t primarily focus on the famous genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart but instead on the character of Antonio Salieri, the court composer of the Austrian Emperor. He is a very religious man and finds the fulfillment of his life in his creation of music. At first, he isn’t jealous of Mozart’s talent but rather very eager to meet this young man – only to find that Mozart doesn’t follow his profession in the same way Salieri does. In Amadeus, Mozart is a vulgar, giggling, fun-loving and almost impossible character who sees life as a big party. This is the point at which Amadeus develops its fascinating concept – it shows how much Salieri is tortured not by Mozart’s talent but rather by the fact that he, Salieri, is so much more dedicated, so much more religious, so much more passionate about his work – so why is Mozart, this impossible young man, so much more talented?
Amadeus uses a spectacular plot and scenery to tell a very simple and well-known story – the anger in us when he see how others get ahead in life so much easier while we have to struggle and fight and never achieve half as much as they do.
In my review for Midnight Cowboy, I wrote that Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman are among the best male on-screen duos ever – well, the two leading men from Amadeus are right up there with them. Tom Hulce is mostly considered to be overshadowed by F. Murray Abraham but if I have to choose I would probably give the edge to Mozart – Hulce’s portrayal is absolutely first-class and he is able to switch from a vulgar and annoying Mozart to a deeply troubled soul in just a second. But even if I may give the win to Hulce – F. Murray Abraham is still one of the most deserving Oscar winners nonetheless for his passionate performance as the ‘patron saint of mediocrity’.
Amadeus, obviously, makes wonderful use of Mozart’s music and feels like a love declaration to classical music just as much as it does like a character study. And also not surprisingly it is also absolutely beautiful to look at and presents wonderful costumes and set designs.
Amadeus is a story about almost primal instincts set in the surrounding of music and royal court – a triumph for the ears, the eyes and, most of all, the mind.