#89: Amadeus (1984)

When and how did I watch this?

October 19th and 20th, 2016 on Netflix.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Obviously, it’s about Mozart.  Won Best Picture in 1984.  The creepy movie poster gave me an impression of the film, piquing my interest for years before finally coming around to see it.

What do I know about it now?

I thought I was in for a disturbing psychological thriller of a sort.  Instead, I was treated to the best movie I’ve ever seen, and in a completely unexpected format: an epic historical film.  What intrigued me outright was the lack of accents reflecting the time and region. The characters speak plainly, a refreshing decision by the director. It’s also told in a recollection, a narration from the viewpoint of a crazed man who grew to become both jealous of and obsessed with Mozart’s genius. It might not have worked if it had been done in another way. And boy, did it work.

One could write a whole book on this film. The depth is tremendous; the beauty of the score, relentless; the screenplay, flawless.  The acting is superb, featuring no marquee players, yet each are tremendous.  I’d never heard of F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, or Elizabeth Berridge, but I found myself searching out their material afterward.  Abraham is a pro’s pro; as Salieri, I was drawn into every word he spoke. He paced his words as if writing the very musical scores he narrated over. Hulce (Mozart) is both hilarious and tragic, wavering between genius and utter social failure.  In the end, I’m not sure who I felt more sorry for; both men stretch themselves thin. The cinematography is absolutely stunning.

What are some themes in the film?

Social class, jealousy, revenge, talent vs. work ethic, theater

Did this affect me personally?

This is the type of movie that changes how you think and perceive the world.

Why is this ranked #89?

I’ve since read that this is one of the most overrated films of all time.  I’m not sure which movie they were watching. This should probably be several ranks higher, yet those who didn’t give it a 10 or 9 stars probably thought it was “boring”.  They simply weren’t paying attention.  The story of Mozart is intriguing as well.

Did my wife watch/like it?

Likewise, this quickly became a favorite of hers.

Would I watch it again?

Oh yes, but with a notepad and surround sound, on a screen double the size of mine.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Everyone knows the “Best Picture” title often fails to meet people’s expectations for what the viewer might regard as a great. I encourage you, however, to give this a run.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

As most of the films at this point in the list should be, indeed, but this is a resounding film that should be no less than in the top 50 greatest films ever made on most lists that take cinema seriously, in my opinion.  Strangely, it doesn’t enter the top 50 on the AFI list, and doesn’t even appear on Rotten Tomatoes (which really can’t be taken seriously anyway). Nonetheless, it dwarfs most films so far.

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