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The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Movie Review: Sam’s top 5 of all time: #4 ‘Amadeus’

‘Amadeus’ features critically acclaimed direction and performances. (Photo courtesy of IMDb)

Another week has passed where I could not go to theaters thanks to end-of-semester work. But it’s okay because I totally love rewatching and reviewing my favorite movies. Here we have number four in the series of my top five movies of all time: Miloš Forman’s masterfully done “Amadeus” (1984). 

Taking place mainly in Vienna during the late 1700s but beginning in the winter of 1823, the film follows real-life composer Antonio Salieri, played perfectly by F. Murray Abraham, and his rivalry with Tom Hulce’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The entire film is told through Salieri’s narration as he recounts these events to a priest while confessing to the murder of Mozart.

After working on the critically acclaimed “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in 1975, Czech director Forman decided to adapt Peter Shaffer’s stage play “Amadeus” to the screen. Shaffer would go on to write the screenplay for the film. Both Forman’s directing and Shaffer’s script smoothly and methodically guide you through this tale of one man’s envy towards another, making the film’s three-hour runtime feel like nothing. The slow unveiling of the story and rivalry between these two is intoxicating. 

Everyone in the cast embodies the role they were given, none better than the two leading men. Abraham, who won the Oscar for Best Actor for this role, plays Salieri as a man who is envious of Mozart but also one who aspires to be him. While no one today knows for sure what Mozart was like, historians believe Hulce’s portrayal is accurate. In the film, Mozart is an immature man — he constantly acts like a child — but his knowledge of music and talent for composing is unmatched.

The film also features excellent performances by supporting cast members, which include Elizabeth Berridge, Roy Dotrice and Jeffrey Jones, who is best known for his role as Principal Ed Rooney in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

The budget of $18 million dollars is put to good use, as the set design and costumes are incredibly historically accurate. Each scene has a minimum of 20 extras, and everyone has the same level of detail put into their clothes. The film is shot on location, using the beautiful architecture of Vienna and the concert halls to the best of their ability. However, it is clear most of the budget went into the scenes of the opera, which are genuinely flooring and make for some of the best-set pieces in the entire film.

The film has no score but uses Mozart’s music to drive the narrative and the scenes. This makes for some perfectly timed dramatic moments that are accompanied by the best music ever written. 

Receiving 10 Academy Award nominations and taking home eight of the golden statues, including Best Picture and Director, “Amadeus” stands the test of time as a classic tale of rivalry and bitter hatred and as one of the best period pieces ever made.

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About the Contributor
Sam Cohen
Sam Cohen, Movie Columnist
Sam Cohen (he/him/his) is a junior majoring in Film and Media Studies. He won the Special Grand Jury Prize for his Comedy short film “The Gum Run” at the 2019 Montclair Film Festival Emerging Filmmakers Competition. Sam writes weekly reviews of recent TV Shows and Movies while occasionally reviewing older, forgotten classics. When not reviewing, discussing, or watching films, Sam is also a part of many extracurriculars on campus, including being a co-captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity, and an officer of the Film Society.

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