AMADEUS

a film by Milos Forman released through Orion Pictures in 1984

Some movies are so compelling that the audience is happy to be swept up in a deliberate untruth.  Amadeus, with its witty dialogue and glorious music, is, like Mozart, one-of-a-kind.  However, a quick study of Mozart's life reveals significant liberties were taken in the film.  And Salieri was no hack.  He was a great composer whose successes were mostly forgotten in a couple generations.  (Really, what percentage of the populace will be remembered 50 years from now?  .003?)
 
Just as it is difficult to judge a film that derives half its power from purported truth while deviating from reality for dramatic 'necessity', it would be difficult for any of Mozart's contemporaries to judge him fairly—not just because of willful blindness/delusion, but because the composer was ahead of his time.  Only Haydn could approach him. 
 
So it satisfies audiences to give this would-be hero feet of clay, to see him die in poverty after he's alienated all concerned, this bawdy man-child run amuck.  We're thus given an impression of divine justice, of retributive balance. 
 
But the hidden premise of the film—that God is capricious, will not stand.  Our very breath is a Divine gift.  We may not understand life; sometimes it feels like a cosmic joke.  But if we—mere clay—presume to judge the Potter, that's nothing to laugh about.  Death—the great equalizer—has no sense of humor.
 


 

★★★★☆

Best for ages 12+

 

 

FEATURING

F. MURRAY ABRAHAM, TOM HULCE, AND ELIZABETH BERRIDGE

© 2023 Ian C. Bloom