Amadeus is an Academy Award winning period drama that sheds light on one of the most famous names in musical history, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The film is told through the eyes of his contemporary and rival Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) who as an old man recounts the tale of his ambition and jealousy as well as his part in the death of the great composer thirty years earlier. By having Salieri and not Mozart tell the story we are able to contextualise the man and his music and get to know the actual composer rather than seeing him through his own rose tinted spectacles. What the film introduced to me was a very different Mozart to the one I was aware of. Like I expect most people my knowledge of him stretched about as far as knowing where and roughly when he was born, that he was gifted at a young age and composed some famous operas. Amadeus introduces an audience to the real Mozart, to the talent and the arrogance, the playboy, the debtor and the genius.
The film retells the life of not only Mozart (Tom Hulce) but also of Salieri and their brushes with friendship and rivalry. The movie is set up as a double headed biopic with both musicians getting ample screen time and plot development. By including a second man in the story of the more famous composer the film feels much more detailed and well rounded than perhaps it would have been if it had only focussed on Mozart. I really enjoyed learning about the two men and their strange society. The plot is detailed and incredibly interesting as well as being filled with fascinating side characters such as Mozart’s wife Constanze (Elizabeth Berridge) and Emperor Joseph II (Jeffrey Jones). The film is as much about 18th Century customs and society as it is about the two men and their music and this further stretches the film’s appeal and scope.