Director Milos Forman presents a tour de force that mixes a powerful story, Oscar-winning performances, classical music and unbelievably big sets without placing visuals over substance. The movie feels like an opera itself, adorned only with classical music and a plot that is all about passion and revenge. F. Murray Abraham's acting is monumental, both grandiose and subtle, and the story mixes Mozart opera and his life in such a way it's hard (and useless) to determine when one ends and the other begins. Humor is not absent and the movie rarely gets lost in its own majesty as it is a very complex story told in a very simple manner.
For this film adaptation of Peter Shaffer's Broadway hit, director Milos Forman returned to the city of Prague that he'd left behind during the Czech political crises of 1968, bringing along his usual cinematographer and fellow Czech expatriate, Miroslav Ondr?cek. Amadeus is an expansion of a Viennese "urban legend" concerning the death of 18th century musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. From the vantage point of an insane asylum, aging royal composer Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) recalls the events of three decades earlier, when the young Mozart (Tom Hulce) first gained favor in the court of Austrian emperor Joseph II (Jeffrey Jones). Salieri was incensed that God would bless so vulgar and obnoxious a young snipe as Mozart with divine genius. Why was Salieri -- so disciplined, so devoted to his art, and so willing to toady to his superiors -- not touched by God? Unable to match Mozart's talent, Salieri uses his influence in court to sabotage the young upstart's career. Disguising himself as a mysterious benefactor, Salieri commissions the backbreaking Requiem, which eventually costs Mozart his health, wealth, and life. Among the film's many pearls of dialogue, the best line goes to the emperor, who rejects a Mozart composition on the grounds that it has "too many notes." Amadeus won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor for F. Murray Abraham. In 2002, the film received a theatrical re-release as "Amadeus: The Director's Cut," a version that includes 20 minutes of additional footage. Hal Erickson, Rovi