Tuesday, February 17, 2009

AMADEUS (Miloš Forman, 1984, USA) The madness of genius is seemingly gifted from the gods and imbued into an unworthy vessel of flesh and bone, where creation is more important than the creator. Director Miloš Forman crafts an allegorical drama that deviates from fact, a narrative that has little basis in history but is a template for examination of human frailty: consuming jealousy, debasing humility to an imaginary and silent god, and sadistic pleasure in seeking another’s destruction. The film is called AMADEUS but it is really about his peer Antonio Salieri, one of the great composers of his time. Peter Shaffer’s script focuses upon the (fictional) devouring passion of Salieri to condemn Mozart, a virtuoso whose musical talent must be a gift from the heavens, or a curse to taunt Salieri into accepting his own mediocrity. History aside, the film is quite entertaining and Forman chooses to tell his story as a confession in a madhouse, shortly after Salieri the aged composer has tried to end his own life. The story is told is flashbacks, short vignettes that often veer beyond Salieri’s perceptions to impart knowledge and insight into the genius of Mozart. It works to a large degree because of the exceptional performance of F. Murray Abraham, his diminished ego reflected upon a tortured and aged visage, his voice a croak of scornful regret that echoes a hollow epitaph to become Patron Saint of Mediocrity. Tom Hulce’s over-the-top rock star legendary performance is immensely prescient and entertaining, bringing the 18th century Mozart into being as a 20th century boy. What becomes intriguing is the dominating aptitude that posses Mozart as the world around him recedes into musical passion, human beings become caricatures to be performed in his operas, as reality’s viscous acid begins to digests his world: he is dying for his Art. Whereas his peers are content to create “pop songs”, Mozart pushes the boundary of expression to the breaking point, and dies while unknowingly writing his own Requiem: his voice to be preserved forever…while Salieri lingers forgotten amid the insane and hopeless. (B)

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