From now on we are enemies, you and I. Because you choose for your instrument a boastful, lustful, smutty, infantile boy and give me only the ability to recognize the incarnation. Because you are unjust, unfair, unkind I will block you, I swear it. I will hinder and harm your creature on Earth as far as I am able. I will ruin your incarnation.
A review by Mike Shea Movie Rating: ( * * * * * ) DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )
People smarter than you or I have been saying that Amadeus is one of the great movies of our time. They are right and if you don't believe so, you are wrong. Some may snidely remark about the movie's historical accuracy but Amadeus isn't a history, its one of the greatest fictional dramas on film. Amadeus isn't a movie about Mozart, it is a movie about wraith.
I've watched Amadaeus many times and every time I watch it I get something new out of it. In this latest screening of the newly released director's cut something became much clearer to me. Amadeus isn't a movie about Salieri's war against Amadeus. It's a movie about his war against God. To Salieri, Amadeus is "a perverted obscene little man" that cuts Salieri's one prayer, to worship God through the beauty of music. He sees Amadeus as Gods own perversion of the beauty of music and seeks nothing less than a war against God Himself. He will destroy this tainted child of God and laugh in His face. Every time I see this movie I pick up more subtleties in Salieri's red-rimmed eyes peering like a demon at the priest sitting across from him. Every frame of this movie is a full work of art, letting us explore it again and again with a fresh look at a new detail.
The acting in Amadeus is stupendous. F. Murray Aberham as both the primmed and proper court composer and the decrepid and hate-burnned old man (probably the best old-man makeup job ever).
Early on in the film, Constantine delivers some original copies of Mozart's music. Salieri stands transfixed over the unedited works of genius while each of the pieces plays for us in turn as he jumps from piece to piece. The ability of the writing and direction to tie us to the music and the talent of our two main characters is flawless. Nearing the end of the movie, Mozart dictates each of the instrumental pieces of his requem death mass to a scribbling Salieri. As Mozart describes these bars to Salieri, we hear them all disected from one another and discover, as Salieri discovers, just how difficult putting them in context can be. Suddenly, they all come together into the explosive race of Constantine back to her dying husband's arms. It is as close a representation to the genius of Mozart - the fictional Mozart - as we can get.
The Director's Cut adds an additional 30 minutes of footage. While many of the scenes stuck out at me like a speedbump on a smooth road, one of the scenes was critical to the original plot of the movie, Salieri's humiliation of Constantine. Many other scenes offered a little bit of interest, but not enough to warrant their own weight against the rest of the smoothly rolling movie.
The DVD is a collectors edition that includes a 2.35 to 1 16x9 enhanced picture and a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is a commentary track and many special features included on this two disc set. One missing critical piece is a DTS soundtrack. If any movie could use the less-compressed audio of DTS, it's this one. The original Amadeus cut had both a 16x9 enhanced picture and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound so this wasn't much of an upgrade. If you have to have the extra scenes or have no other version, this is a good one to have.
Amadeus is one of the best movies of our time. It has sublime acting, wonderful sets, costumes, and a story that burns hotter than the fires of hell. It is a work of fiction, and like many other movies with historical characters or time periods, it is best taken as a work of fiction with little but names, dates, or places to tie it to factual events. As a work of fiction, Amadaeus is unequaled.