Release Date: September 19, 1984
Director: Milos Foreman
Starring: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Simon Callow, Roy Dotrice, Christine Ebersole, Jeffrey Jones, Charles Kay.
Tag Lines: “The man… The music… The madness… The murder… The motion picture…”
“Everything you’ve heard is true.”
Relevance: Although I was aware of ‘Amadeus’ because of its huge dominance at the 1985 Academy Awards where it was nominated for eleven awards and won eight, I actually didn’t see the film until the spring of 1990. There was also a resurgence of interest with the film before I saw it thanks to Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” being played on every radio station in the USA late 1985. The song then spent three weeks on top of the Billboard charts in early 1986. To this day when anyone mentions this movie or even Mozart himself, Falco’s song jumps into my head. (In fact, when I told my husband what the movie of the day was today he replied, “Oh, rock me Amadeus!”)
In the spring of 1990, I was a freshman in college and I was taking a Box Office and Stage Management course. One of the final projects for the class was to complete a prompt book for the play “Amadeus” by Peter Shaffer. Once I read the play, just for additional reference as well as curiosity, I went to the local video store and rented the movie. I’ve never been one of those critics that goes into a film after reading the source material and say, “Oh the book was so much better.” I’ve always been able to differentiate between the two and realize that they are two different mediums and that one is just an adaptation of whichever one came first. As long as the essence, spirit and ideas of one another are captured, I have no problems. That was the case with ‘Amadeus,’ as I loved reading the play and thoroughly enjoyed watching the movie, which not surprisingly was written by the playwright himself, Peter Shaffer, for which he won an Academy Award. I remember thinking it was a long movie but cruised along easily thanks to the fantastic performances by the two male leads. Being in theater, I kept thinking these are two great roles that I would love to play on stage one day.
I really did enjoy the movie, but I don’t ever recall watching it again, even though I own a DVD version of it thanks to my collecting all of the Academy Award Best Picture winners. I reference it a lot when I am writing or rehearsing a show, but this might have more to do with studying the script from my class than actually watching the movie. But the visuals, sounds and performances from the movie are so ingrained in my conscience, it wouldn’t be fair to not give the movie its due respect.
Today’s Thoughts: My sentiment about a well crafted, well acted movie standing the test of time bears repeating when talking about ‘Amadeus.’ It’s such a wonderful movie. Again, the two male leads are astounding. Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham and Oscar nominated Tom Hulce are both at the top of their game. The roles are written so well, but their execution for the characters are flawless. The costumes, sets and sounds are exquisite. It is no surprise that this movie was chosen for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
I loved watching it for not only being thoroughly entertained again, but for catching some things I didn’t see (or remember) the first time around. For starters, there are penises. There are actually two penises shown and both can be seen quite early in the movie. Yes, that male part of the anatomy that Hollywood is so afraid to show actually has some screen time in a film made in the early 1980’s. Silly for some I know, but I never understand why seeing a man naked is taboo in film when women are always shown au naturale. Men need to drop their insecurities about their anatomy and then drop their pants, accepting what they have no matter the size or shape. So thank you Milos Foreman and producers of ‘Amadeus.’
Secondly, I was so surprised to see so many actors and actresses that I knew in the movie that I didn’t know were in it. Christine Ebersole (Tony award winning Broadway actress), Jeffrey Jones (the principal in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’), Cynthia Nixon (Miranda!!) and Vincent Schiavelli (the subway ghost from ‘Ghost’) all play pretty substantial roles in ‘Amadeus.’ I love re-watching movies and seeing famous people before they were famous or at least before I knew who they were. It was fun to watch the movie and be surprised when the next one showed up.
‘Amadeus,’ two thumbs (and two penises) up!
Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture (winner), Academy Award for Best Actor in a leading Role, F. Murray Abraham (winner), Academy Award for Best Director, Milos Foreman (winner), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Peter Shaffer (winner), Academy Award for Best Art Direction/Set Direction, Patrizia von Brandenstein, Karel Cerny (winner), Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Theodor Pistek (winner), Academy Award for Best Sound, Mark Berger, Thomas Scott, Todd Boekelheide, Christopher Newman (winner), Academy Award for Best Makeup, Paul LeBlanc, Dick Smith (winner), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Tom Hulce (nomination), Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Miroslav Ondricek (nomination), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Nena Danevic, Michael Chandler (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Picture – Drama (winner), Golden Globe for Best Director, Milos Foreman (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor-Drama, F. Murray Abraham (winner), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, Peter Shaffer (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor-Drama, Tom Hulce (nomination), Golden Globe for Best performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Jeffrey Jones (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, Miroslav Ondricek (winner), BAFTA Award for best Editing, Nena Danevic, Michael Chandler (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Make Up Artist, Paul LeBlanc, Dick Smith (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Sound, John Nutt, Christopher Newman, Mark Berger (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Film (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actor, F. Murray Abraham (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Adapted, Peter Shaffer (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Coustume Design, Theodor Pistek (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Production design, Patrizia von Brandenstein (nomination), Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Milos Foreman (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Director, Milos Foreman (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor, F. Murray Abraham (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay, Peter Shaffer (winner), National Film Registry (2019).
Ways to Watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, iTunes, DVD Availability.