Amadeus (1984) is a film directed by Miloš Forman and adapted by Peter Shaffer from his 1979 stage play. It is a fictionalized story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that follows a rivalry between Mozart and Italian composer Antonio Salieri at the court of Emperor Joseph II. It stars F. Murray Abraham as Salieri, and won an Academy Award for his performance, and Tom Hulce as Mozart, who was nominated for the same award as his costar.
For me, it is one of those “perfect” movies. The direction, the cinematography, the music sequences especially, the acting, the screenplay, everything comes together perfectly.
It is now widely thought to be one of the greatest films of all time. Amadeus was nominated for nine Oscars, four BAFTA Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, and a Directors Guild of America Award. As of 2021, it is the most recent film to have more than one nomination in the Academy Award for Best Actor category.
The play by Shaffer was first performed in 1979. It is inspired by Alexander Pushkin‘s short play Mozart And Salieri (1830). It was first presented at the National Theatre, London, directed by Sir Peter Hall and starring Paul Scofield as Salieri, and out polymath Simon Callow. Callow is in the film version, but in a different role.
It opened on Broadway in the winter of 1980, with Ian McKellen as Salieri and Tim Curry as Mozart. It ran for 1,181 performances and was nominated for seven Tony Awards, winning five including Best Play and Best Actor for McKellen.
The play and film version use of the music of Mozart, Salieri and other composers of the period. The premieres of Mozart’s operas are the settings for some of the best scenes.
Mozart (1756–1791) led a life that begged to made into a big production: his career began as a child prodigy, he struggled to find himself as a person and an artist, he was always on the brink of some sort of financial ruin, and he died trying finish his own Requiem.
Amadeus was not the first fictional work about his life. There are novels, operas, and other plays and films.
Stephen Haggard plays Mozart in the British film Whom The Gods Love (1936); Oskar Werner portrays him in Mozart (1958), an Austrian production. Interlude In Prague (2017) has Aneurin Barnard, and Daniel Dorr plays him in Bill & Ted Face The Music (2020).
Mozart’s music has been used in films since the silent era. The Magic Flute features in the plot of The Blue Angel (1930). Arias, songs and orchestral pieces are used in Wuthering Heights (1939), The Picture Of Dorian Gray (1945), Vertigo (1958), Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Barry Lyndon (1975) Annie Hall (1977), and many, many others.