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Amadeus directed by Miloš Forman

Table of Contents

Important background 2

The film 2

Historical context – Patrons and Patronage 2

Mozart’s biography 3

Salieri 4

Plot overview 6

Character profiles 9

Themes 12

Important terminology 15

Opera characteristics 15

Important background

The film

The film Amadeus was critically acclaimed and a commercial success on its release in 1984. At the 57th Academy Awards, the film won eight of the eleven nominations it received. The wins included Best Director, Best Actor (F. Murray Abraham), and Best Picture. And, apart from dominating a series of award ceremonies, the film had another impact: it generated public interest in Mozart.

Despite the film's success with both critics and audiences, there were some dissenting voices; they felt that very few aspects of the film carried any semblance of truth, and disliked the fact that the film furthered the myth that Salieri had a role in Mozart's death. They also disliked that the film depicted Mozart as only having one son with Constanze, whereas the couple had two sons.

Peter Schaeffer, who wrote the play from which the film is adapted, and who also worked with Miloš Forman to convert the play into a script, publicly answered the dissenters. In an essay published in 1984 in the magazine, Film Comment, Schaeffer asserts that his purpose for both the play and the film is not historical accuracy, but rather entertainment. He sought to write a story that created as much drama as possible.

Historical context – Patrons and Patronage

Patron – one who protects or gives financial support; Patronage: influential support such as position, finance and influence.

Composers now rely on payments from records, sheet music, film, radio and television companies for most of their income. These payments are known as royalties. In Mozart’s day, such payments were not possible since it is only recently that composers have been protected by copyright and the recording and broadcasting industries have become important and influential in the music world.


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