I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Amadeus, 1984

Rated R

I feel like I should have already known all about this movie since I was made to watch it every year in my high school choir class, and if I recall correctly, sometimes more than once a year. I think it was my favorite teacher’s “go-to” movie to put on if he wasn’t feeling well. Instead, I took it as an invitation to doodle on my binder or flirt with the cute senior who is now my husband (time well spent, in my opinion). Alas, all I could say was I knew it was about a crazy musician who I assumed was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

 “Amadeus” is based on a play and is the story of Mozart and fellow composer Antonio Salieri. I’m sure you’re thinking, Boring! There’s no way I want to see a movie about 18th century classical composers. But give it a chance. Mozart’s pink wig and maniacal laugh (that you love to hate, or hate that you love) might just help change your mind.  And the intense jealousy that comes from his competitor Salieri will keep you in suspense.

In an attempt to entice you to rent the film, I’ll give the synopsis…The film is told in flashback form starting with an old Salieri confessing to Mozart’s murder and his own attempt at suicide as a result of the guilt. Mozart was a child prodigy who quickly found favor in the court and rises to celebrated status (although he is often controversial). Salieri, also favored in the court, is not pleased with this newcomer since he makes him look more mediocre. Instead of “playing for God” as he once wanted to do, Salieri starts devoting his time to destroying Mozart’s career, convinced God is playing an unfair game of favorites. He mysteriously commissions Mozart to compose a Requiem (a funeral mass). His plan is to murder him, claim the piece as his own, and ironically play it at Mozart’s funeral. Plans get foiled, but it seems that Salieri did still play a role in his death: Mozart collapses under the pressure of composing something so magnificent so quickly, and his death becomes rather poetic.

It is brilliantly acted by both Tom Hulce (Mozart) and F. Murray Abraham (Salieri). I wish they could have split the Best Actor award (maybe with the slight edge to Tom); both were nominated but Abraham walked away with the statuette. You have to use your imagination a bit as Tom looks and sounds about as American as they come, but his performance as the flamboyant musical genius is entertaining. Mozart was like other artists who loved to gamble, drink, take medication, and work too hard. There are moments in the movie, you think he’s actually gone mad. (And those parts reminded me a little of Gene Wilder in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”.)

Mozart composed “The Magic Flute” just one year before his death. I think it is a remarkable piece. The woman who has to sing those notes, specifically in :45-1:00, is nothing short of amazing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OP9SX7V14Z4

Once again, I find myself having an issue with the original movie poster- this time, with its tagline “Everything you’ve heard is true”. Well, kind of. Even a special feature on the DVD says they used a “storyteller’s dramatic license”. Supposedly, Salieri did not write out the dying man’s music in real life as he does in the film, but that just makes for awesome irony, doesn’t it? Salieri DID feel tremendous guilt during the rest of his life however, and did “confess” to Mozart’s murder and his own attempted suicide, which found him a place in an insane asylum. I was surprised to learn that Mozart died penniless (because of his debts) and was buried in a pauper’s grave.

I recognized Cynthia Nixon (from “Sex and the City”) this time around as the small-part maidservant who Salieri hires to spy for him in the Mozart household. She looks so young and plays the part of the timid and terrified hired help quite well.

“Amadeus” was up against “The Killing Fields”, “A Passage to India”, “Places in the Heart”, and “A Soldier’s Story”, none of which I’ve heard of or seen. Although “Amadeus” made the most at the box office that year, it tied with “A Passage for India” with eleven nominations each, so that also must have been a popular film. “Amadeus” won eight of its eleven nominations including the obvious Best Costume Design and Best Make Up awards. 

The one that had my eyes glued to the screen was one near the very end. Mozart is lying on his deathbed dictating the music in his head to Salieri who is ferociously writing it down (in hopes of eventually claiming it as his own). I am in awe of talent like that, on both their parts. Mozart hears the many instruments playing simultaneously in his head and is able to express that to another musician who can also be made to hear it (though not as fast or well) and can write it down correctly. Amazing.


Jealously is a scary thing, especially if you let it overpower you. Learn to applaud others for their accomplishments. Don’t take it as a direct hit to your own self-worth. Recognize the good in yourself and have a healthy desire to strive to be better.

God gives each of us natural gifts. Cultivate those gifts and help them to grow as a way to please and thank God.

Know when to say, “Enough is enough”. Sometimes we need to slow down or stop altogether when our schedules get packed. Before we know it, time has passed too quickly or, like Mozart, we can fall ill.

*Mr A... I apologize for not appreciating this film when you showed it to us; I hope I have done you proud now.


  1. Hmm...this sounds vaguely familiar. It is amazing that you can see a movie so many times and remember so little. Maybe one day I'll give it another try :)

  2. I figured YOU would have remembered much more!