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Amadeus Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! 

By Jim Emerson

The satirical sensibilities of writer Peter Shaffer and director Milos Forman (One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest) were ideally matched in this Oscar-winning movie adaptation of Shaffer's hit play about the rivalry between two composers in the court of Austrian Emperor Joseph II--official royal composer Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), and the younger but superior prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce). The conceit is absolutely delicious: Salieri secretly loathes Mozart's crude and bratty personality, but is astounded by the beauty of his music. That's the heart of Salieri's torment--although he's in a unique position to recognize and cultivate both Mozart's talent and career, he's also consumed with envy and insecurity in the face of such genius. That such magnificent music should come from such a vulgar little creature strikes Salieri as one of God's cruelest jokes, and it drives him insane. Amadeus creates peculiar and delightful contrasts between the impeccably re-created details of its lavish period setting and the jarring (but humorously refreshing and unstuffy) modern tone of its dialogue and performances--all of which serve to remind us that these were people before they became enshrined in historical and artistic legend. Jeffrey Jones, best-known as Ferris Bueller's principal, is particularly wonderful as the bumbling emperor (with the voice of a modern midlevel businessman).

The director's cut of Amadeus finally accords this masterful work the DVD treatment it deserves. The handsome anamorphic widescreen picture is accompanied by a choice of Dolby 5.1 or Dolby stereo sound options, and it's all contained on one side of the disc. Director Milos Forman and writer Peter Shaffer provide a chatty though sporadic commentary, but they're obviously still too mesmerized by the movie to do much more than offer the odd anecdote. The second disc contains an excellent new hour-long "making of" documentary, with contributions from Forman, Shaffer, Sir Neville Marriner, and all the main actors, taking in the scriptwriting, choice of music, casting, and problems involved in filming in Communist Czechoslovakia with half the crew and extras working for the Secret Police.

Academy Awards

Amadeus received an Academy Awards for Best Picture (Saul Zaentz - Producer) Actor (F. Murray Abraham), Directing (Milos Forman), Writing (Best Screenplay based on material from another medium; Peter Shaffer), Art Direction/Set Decoration (Patrizia von Brandenstein - Art Direction, Karel Cerny - Set Decoration Costume Design (Theodor Pistek), Best Achievement in Makeup (Paul LeBlanc, Dick Smith), Sound (Mark Berger, Tom Scott, Todd Boekelheide, Chris Newman). It also received nominations for Actor (Tom Hulce), Cinematography (Miroslav Ondrícek), and for Film Editing (Nena Danevic, Michael Chandler).

 

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this soundtrack from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Rated PGOn an American Film Institute 100 list (click here to learn more)

Director: Miloš Forman

Stars: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Simon Callow, Roy Dotrice, Christine Ebersole, Jeffrey Jones

Released: September 19, 1984

Availability: DVD VHS CD


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