OK 80’s, I love you and everything, but we are NOT off to a good start with the Oscar winners here. Such begins my experience watching 1984’s best picture winner, Amadeus.
To be honest, I had never heard of this movie before I started Oscartini. And upon looking for it on Netflix, I thought it sounded promising based on the short synopsis:
“F. Murray Abraham earned a Best Actor Oscar for his imperious performance as Antonio Salieri, a mediocre composer whose churlish young rival, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), wins immortality with his musical genius. Not happy to see his talent eclipsed, Salieri dons a disguise and deviously plots revenge, obsessed with muffling Mozart’s maddening laughter.”
Right? Who doesn’t love devious plots for revenge and churlish young rivals? I know this girl does! But wait…what about that quip about the laugh? How maddening is it? Well, a quick YouTube search for “Mozart Laugh” turns up the perfect example:
And that’s pretty much what’s up with Amadeus. This dude’s laugh will make you want to punch a kitten. The end.
No, but seriously, there are a few positives from Amadeus. For example, the Falco song “Rock Me Amadeus” was inspired by the movie. Also, a young Cynthia Nixon has a minor role as a maid. AND, Ed Rooney is an Austrian Emperor. Yeah…this is a tough one. The movie is three hours of one guy (Saleri, played by the eventual Best Actor winner, F. Abraham Murray) trying to sabotage Mozart’s life and career in Vienna circa 1790. Three hours is long for any movie, but I found Amadeus to be unnecessarily long and convoluted. The acting was above average (with both male leads having been nominated for Best Actor), but the story (which is told in flashbacks) meanders along at a painfully s-l-o-w pace. Just when you think the action is picking up, it’s interrupted by a host of unimportant details.
The music is, unsurprisingly, awesome, with several familiar Mozart pieces incorporated throughout, with The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni as standouts. The movie itself is an elaborate spectacle, as most historical films tend to be. I could appreciate the costumes and sets, even if I wasn’t crazy about the story.
Clearly, I’m not seeing something that the Academy saw. Not only did Amadeus win 8 Oscars, but it won a number of other prestigious awards around the world. Anyone care to shed some light on the appeal of this movie? Or have I (and that terrible clip) turned you off from ever seeing Amadeus? If you are inclined to watch, it’s available for instant streaming on Netflix—good luck!
Fun facts (courtesy of IMDB and Wikipedia)
- One of only 4 productions to win both the Best Play Tony (1981) and the Best Picture Oscar (1984). The other 3 are My Fair lady (1957/1964), The Sound of Music (1960/1965) and A Man For All Seasons (1962/1966)
- Amadeus, The English Patient and The Hurt Locker are the only Best Picture winners to never enter the weekend box office top 5 after rankings began being recorded in 1982.
- Amadeus won four of the Oscars’ Big 5, with wins for best picture, actor, director and adapted screenplay. There was no best actress nominee from Amadeus.
- Budget: $18 Million, gross revenue: $51,973,029