I light of the great Milos Forman passing away yesterday, Byrd and I thought it would be a nice gesture to highlight two of his greatest cinematic works. I saw Amadeus for the first time in high school German class, however I was less interested in a film about Mozart and more interested in socializing among classmates. In college, at Byrd’s suggestion, I sat down and watched the picture with full consideration and was absolutely floored by the incredibly powerful imagery, music, and acting.
Having never been aware of F. Murray Abraham, I immediately went to his IMDb page following the screening where I discovered he had won an Oscar for his flawless performance as Antonio Salieri. Amadeus is less of a biography of one of history’s greatest composers and more a character study of his greatest rival and adversary, yet ultimately, his greatest admirer.
The film is told through they eyes of an elderly Salieri who confides in a younger priest his confession of his younger days in Vienna where he and Mozart were competing composers. There’s a reason you probably have never heard of Antonio Salieri as he was no match for Mozart’s musical talents. This only furthered Salieri’s hatred which led to an obsession with suppressing Mozart’s success. Salieri’s ultimate flaw was his immense jealousy of Mozart’s ability to seemingly channel God himself through his music. An undeniable talent that Salieri himself unfortunately did not share.
What is most beautiful about this character is that, despite his life’s mission being to limit Mozart’s fame at all costs, whenever Salieri speaks of Mozart’s work, he describes its beauty as though no other set of ears in the world had appreciated the genius more than he himself. By the film’s conclusion, it is clear that Salieri has long since accepted his fate as the self proclaimed “Patron Saint of Mediocrities”. Isn’t it interesting that Milos Forman, who directed two Best Picture Winner’s at the Academy Awards, chose to make perhaps his best film about a champion of mediocrity? Forman himself was anything but.
Written by Maier
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