Amedeus was an epic film, as it was epically long and painful. While I’m sure that there was many historically significant events, I am not a history buff and don’t know what it based on truth or not. I’m sure some music majors and historians would like to view the film, perhaps just once in their lives, however the potential audience for really enjoying the content of this film must be extremely narrow. I do find classical music very enjoyable, and the time period is interesting, however the making of a 3 hour movie for his life is a bit of a stretch.
One element that I found very interesting was the way that the story was presented. The use of Antonio Salieri’s retelling of his life was a great way to present the storyline. This allowed us to view his emotion, in the way he told the story on screen, as well as the perspective of the other actors playing out the scenes. This dual perspective gave added voice to the presentation, and gave us a type of stereo vision, allowing us to understand it much better. The switching from Salieri’s first hand dialog, to the long scenes of the events allowed for better attention span, as well as broke up the story into logical pieces, making it a bit easier to comprehend what was going on though the story.
The basic storyline of the film is the telling of the lifespan of Mozart through Salieri’s point of view. We start with Antonio, in a mental hospital of some kind, telling of Mozart’s early childhood. We learn of his music skills as a prodigy, as his father drags him all over showing off his talent. As he matures, he ends up working for many folks, composing music and full operas. His relationship with his father sours, and eventually becomes a problem for his wife as well. His appetite for women, poor financial planning and spending, and not following social norms causes friction between his employers and wife for most of his life. His father passes away, which is clearly a tough time for Mozart. Salieri secretly hires Mozart to write his (Mozart’s) own funeral march, and plans to knock off Mozart at some point.
As I watched this film, I’m unsure why Mozart’s laugh, which was peppered throughout the entire dialogue, was so obnoxious and painful. His emotional and witty laugh was unusual at first, and even playful in parts of the show, however after 3 hours of hearing the laugh, it was clear that he was insane. It was unclear what point this was making, if Mozart really did have this crazy laugh, and it was trying to be historically accurate, or if this was a tool to show Mozarts playfulness, immaturity, unpredictability or instability. This film was dialogue driven and as it was broken up with scenes from opera’s you could still feel the animosity between Salieri and Mozart even when they weren’t communicating directly. I did find the music enjoyable and really had no idea how many pieces Mozart had composed that I have heard before.
At the end of the film you see the priest who is supposed to be there to absolve Salieri of his sins is overcome with the story he has just heard. Salieri points out that it was in fact God who took Mozart away and let him continue living for 32 years full of mediocrity. Salieri claims he is the Saint of Mediocrity and can absolve all the mediocre souls out there. His obsession with Mozart has ended up taking away what joy he could have had in life. This was a unique film that I will probably never watch again.