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Peter Shaffer's Amadeus is a 1984 musical film directed by Miloš Forman and written by Peter Shaffer. Adapted from Shaffer's stage play Amadeus, the story is based loosely on the lives of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri, two composers who lived in Viennamarker, Austriamarker, during the latter half of the 18th century.

The film was nominated for 53 awards and received 40, including 8 Academy Awards (including Best Picture), 4 BAFTA Awards, 4 Golden Globes, and a DGA Award. In 1998, the American Film Institute ranked Amadeus #53 on its AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies list.

Currently, the director's cut is rated R by the MPAA for brief nudity. The theatrical version received a PG rating at its release.

Plot

The film begins in 1823 as Salieri, as an old man, attempts suicide by slitting his throat while loudly begging forgiveness for having killed Mozart in 1791. Placed in a lunatic asylum for the act, Salieri is visited by a young priest who seeks to take his confession. Salieri is sullen and uninterested but eventually warms to the priest and launches into a long "confession" about the relationship between himself and Mozart. As the scenes later cut back to this dialog, it appears that Salieri's tale goes on through the night and into the next day. This dialog comprises a frame story, with the bulk of the movie being flashbacks to Mozart's lifetime.

Salieri reminisces about his youth, particularly about his devotion to God and his love for music and how he pledges to God to remain celibate as a sacrifice if he can somehow devote his life to music. He describes how his father's plans for him were to go into business, but Salieri suggests that the sudden death of his father, who choked to death during a meal, was "a miracle" that allowed Salieri to pursue a career in music. In his narrative, he is suddenly an adult joining the 18th century cultural elite in Viennamarker, the "city of musicians." Salieri begins his career as a devout, God-fearing man who believes his success and talent as a composer are God’s rewards for his piety. He is content as the court composer for Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II.

Mozart arrives in Vienna with his patron, Count Hieronymus von Colloredo, the Archbishop of Salzburg. Salieri secretly observes Mozart at the Archbishop's palace, but they are not properly introduced. Salieri sees that Mozart off-stage is irreverent and lewd. He also first recognizes the immense talent displayed in the adult works of Mozart. In 1781, when Mozart meets the Emperor, Salieri presents Mozart with a little "March of Welcome," which he had toiled to create. At this meeting, Mozart first displays a childish high-pitched laugh which is heard, at times, throughout the rest of the film. After hearing the march only once, Mozart spontaneously "improves" this piece with minimal effort, transforming Salieri's "trifle" into the "Non più andrai" march from his opera The Marriage of Figaro.

Salieri reels at the notion of God speaking through the childish, petulant Mozart, whose music he regards as miraculous. Gradually, Salieri’s faith is shaken. He believes that God, through Mozart's genius, is cruelly laughing at Salieri's own musical mediocrity. Salieri's struggles with God are intercut with scenes showing Mozart's own trials and tribulations with life in Vienna: pride at the initial reception of his music; anger and disbelief over his subsequent treatment by the Italians of the Emperor's court; happiness with his wife Constanze and his son Karl; and grief at the death of his father Leopold. Mozart becomes more desperate as the family's expenses increase and his commissions decrease. When Salieri learns of Mozart's financial straits, he finally sees his chance to avenge himself, using "God's Beloved" (the literal meaning of "Amadeus") as the instrument.

Salieri hatches a complex plot to gain ultimate victory over Mozart and over God. He wears a mask and costume similar to one he had seen Leopold wear and commissions the composer to write a requiem mass, giving Mozart a down payment and the promise of an enormous sum upon completion. Mozart begins to write perhaps his greatest work, the Requiem Mass in D minor, unaware of the true identity of his mysterious patron and his scheme: to somehow kill him when the work is complete. Glossing over any details of how he might commit the murder, Salieri dwells on the admiration of his peers and the court when they applaud the magnificent Requiem and him when he claims to be the music's composer. Only Salieri and God would know the truth – that Mozart wrote his own requiem mass, and that God could only watch while Salieri finally received the fame and renown he deserved.

Mozart's financial woes continue and the composing demands of the Requiem and The Magic Flute drive him to the point of exhaustion as he alternates work between the two pieces. Constanze leaves him and takes their son with her. His health worsens and he collapses during the premiere performance of The Magic Flute. Salieri takes the stricken Mozart home and tricks him into working on the Requiem. Mozart dictates while Salieri transcribes throughout the night. As Constanze returns that morning, she tells Salieri to leave. Constanze locks the manuscript away despite Salieri's objections, but as she goes to wake her husband, Mozart is dead. The Requiem is left unfinished, and Salieri is left powerless as Mozart's body is hauled out of Vienna for burial in a mass grave.

The film ends as Salieri finishes recounting his story to the visibly shaken young priest. Salieri concludes that God killed Mozart rather than allow Salieri to share in even an ounce of his glory, and that he is consigned to be the "patron saint of mediocrity." Salieri absolves the priest of his own mediocrity and blesses his fellow patients as he is taken away in his wheelchair. The last sound heard before the credits roll is Mozart's high-pitched laughter.

Cast



Production

Kenneth Branagh, per his autobiography Beginning, was originally considered to play Mozart in the film, but was bypassed in favor of Hulce when Forman decided to make the film with an American cast, so that US audiences would not be "distracted" by the Britishmarker accents. Hulce reportedly used John McEnroe's mood swings as a source of inspiration for his portrayal of Mozart's unpredictable genius.

Meg Tilly was cast as Mozart's wife Constanze, but she tore a ligament in her leg the day before shooting started. She was replaced by Elizabeth Berridge. Simon Callow, who played Mozart in the original Londonmarker stage production of Amadeus, was cast as Emanuel Schikaneder, the librettist of The Magic Flute.

The film was shot on location in Praguemarker, Kroměřížmarker and Viennamarker. Notably, Forman was able to shoot scenes in the Count Nostitz Theatremarker, where Don Giovanni and La Clemenza di Tito debuted two centuries before. Several other scenes were shot at the Barrandov Studiosmarker.

Reception

In 1985, the film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including a last rare double nomination for Best Actor – Hulce and Abraham were each nominated for their portrayals of Mozart and Salieri. The movie won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Abraham), Best Director (Forman), Costume Design (Theodor Pištěk), Adapted Screenplay (Shaffer), Art Direction (Patrizia von Brandenstein), Best Makeup, and Best Sound. The film was nominated for but did not win Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Editing. Amadeus and The English Patient are the only two Best Picture winners to never enter the weekend box office top 5 after rankings began being recorded in 1982. Amadeus peaked at #6 during its 8th weekend in theaters. Both films were produced by Saul Zaentz.

The movie was nominated for six Golden Globes (Hulce and Abraham were nominated together) and won four, including awards to Forman, Abraham, Shaffer, and Golden Globe Award for Best Picture - Drama. Jeffrey Jones was nominated for Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Drama. Forman also received the Directors Guild of America Award for his work.

In his essay collection The Relativity of Wrong, Isaac Asimov praised Abraham's depiction of Salieri and voiced his support for Abraham to receive the Oscar. Abraham won the award for his portrayal of Salieri, just as Ian McKellen won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Salieri in the 1980 Broadway theatremarker production.

At the end of the Oscar ceremony, Laurence Olivier came on stage to present the Oscar for Best Picture. As Olivier thanked the Academy for inviting him, he was already opening the envelope. Instead of announcing the nominees, he simply read, "The winner is ‘Amadeus’." An AMPAS official quickly went onstage to confirm Olivier's announcement and signaled that all was well. Producer Saul Zaentz mentioned the other nominees in his acceptance speech: The Killing Fields, A Passage to India, Places in the Heart and A Soldier's Story.

The film had an effect on popular music and continues to influence writers and musicians. One well-known example is "Rock Me Amadeus", by Austrianmarker pop artist Falco, which was a hit in 1985. American rock band Fall Out Boy released a bonus track entitled "From Now One We Are Enemies", which features lyrics that act as a conversation between Salieri and Mozart. Finnish metal band Children of Bodom uses Salieri's quote, "From now on we are enemies... you and I..." as the introduction to their song "Warheart". The album Beyond Abilities by progressive metal band Warmen uses quotations from the film and includes a track entitled "Salieri Strikes Back". Warmen's later album Accept the Fact also uses a quote from Amadeus and has a song called "Return of Salieri".

Abraham appears in the 1993 film Last Action Hero. The young boy, Danny, tells Arnold Schwarzenegger not to trust Abraham because "He killed Mozart!" Schwarzenegger asks "In a movie?" Danny responds, "Amadeus! It won eight Oscars!"

Amadeus has been parodied several times, including in episodes of Family Guy ("It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One"), The Simpsons ("Margical History Tour"), Freakazoid, Mr. Show, 30 Rock ("Succession"), and How I Met Your Mother ("The Best Burger in New York").

American Film Institute recognition

Music



  • The Choruses
    • Academy Chorus of St Martin In The Fields, conducted by Laszlo Heltay
    • Ambrosian Opera Chorus, conducted by John McCarthy
    • The Choristers of Westminster Abbey, conducted by Simon Preston


  • Instrumental soloists
    • Concerto for Piano in Eb, K482, performed by Ivan Moravec
    • Concerto for Piano in D minor, K466, performed by Imogen Cooper
    • Adagio in C minor for Glass Harmonica, K617, performed by Thomas Bloch with The Brussels Virtuosi, conducted by Marc Grauwels






Original soundtrack album

(all composed by Mozart except as noted)
  • Disc One
  1. Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K 183, 1st movement
  2. Stabat Mater: Quando Corpus Morietur and Amen (Pergolesi - performed by the Choristers of Westminster Abbey, directed by Simon Preston)
  3. Early 18th Century Gypsy Music: Bubak and Hungaricus
  4. Serenade for Winds, K. 361, 3rd movement
  5. The Abduction from the Seraglio, Turkish Finale
  6. Symphony No. 29 in A, K 201, 1st movement
  7. Concerto for Two Pianos, K. 365, 3rd movement
  8. Mass in C minor, K. 427, Kyrie (Mozart)
  9. Symphonie Concertante, K. 364, 1st movement


  • Disc Two
  1. Piano Concerto in E flat, K. 482, 3rd movement
  2. The Marriage of Figaro, Act III, Ecco la Marcia
  3. The Marriage of Figaro, Act IV, Ah Tutti Contenti
  4. Don Giovanni, Act II, Commendatore scene
  5. Zaide aria, Ruhe Sanft
  6. Requiem, K. 626, Introitus (orchestra introduction)
  7. Requiem: Dies Irae
  8. Requiem: Rex Tremendae Majestatis
  9. Requiem:Confutatis
  10. Requiem: Lacrimosa
  11. Piano Concerto in D minor, K. 466, 2nd movement


The original soundtrack to Amadeus reached #56 on Billboard's album charts, making it one of the most popular recordings of classical music ever. All of the tracks were composed by Mozart, save an early Hungarianmarker folk tune and the final movement Quando Corpus Morietur et Amen by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, from his famous Stabat Mater.

The film features some music that is not included on the original soundtrack album release. As stated above, except where specified, all tracks were performed by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner, and all were performed specifically for use in the film. According to the film commentary by Forman and Schaffer, Marriner agreed to score the film if Mozart's music was completely unchanged from Mozart's original scores. Marriner did add some notes to Salieri's music that are noticeable in the beginning of the film, as Salieri begins his confession.

Music featured in the film but not included on the soundtrack album (but included in a later extended version):
  • The Magic Flute, Queen of the Night aria Der Hölle Rache performed by June Anderson
  • The Magic Flute, Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen... (Papageno), and Pa-pa-gena! … Pa-pa-geno! (Papageno and Papagena) performed by Brian Kay and Gillian Fisher
  • Axur, Re d'Ormus, Son queste le speranze... Salieri's opera shown in the beginning of the film
  • Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Martern aller Arten'... First opera that Mozart conducts in the film
  • Le Nozze Di Figaro,'Cinque...dieci...venti...trenta... The scene where Figaro Samuel Ramey is measuring a space for his wedding bed
  • Don Giovanni, 'La Ci Darem La Mano' appears as a parody sung as "Give me a hoof my darling, and I'll give you my heart"
  • K. 466 Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor 1st movement
  • K.33B Harpsichord piece in F major, played when Mozart is a child at the harpsichord, then on the violin (while blindfolded).
  • Piano Concerto No.15 KV.450, B-dur - 3.Allegro, played in the Theatrical version when Mozart is walking through Vienna carrying a bottle of champagne, and in the Director's Cut when Mozart is teaching a girl to play the piano and is interrupted by barking dogs.


Awards

United States

57th Academy Awards:
  • Won (8)
* Best Actor in a Leading Role (F. Murray Abraham)
* Best Adapted Screenplay (Peter Shaffer)
* Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Karel Černý and Patrizia von Brandenstein)
* Best Costume Design (Theodor Pištěk)
* Best Picture
* Best Director (Miloš Forman)
* Best Makeup (Dick Smith and Paul LeBlanc)
* Best Sound Mixing (Mark Berger, Thomas Scott, Todd Boekelheide and Christopher Newman)
  • Nominated
* Best Actor in a Leading Role (Tom Hulce)
* Best Cinematography (Miroslav Ondříček)
* Best Film Editing (Nena Danevic and Michael Chandler)


42nd Golden Globe Awards:
  • Won (4)
* Best Actor - Drama (F. Murray Abraham)
* Best Director (Miloš Forman)
* Best Picture - Drama
* Best Screenplay (Peter Shaffer)
  • Nominated
* Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama (Tom Hulce)
* Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Jeffrey Jones)


LAFCA Awards 1984:
  • Won (4)
* Best Actor (F. Murray Abraham tied with Albert Finney for Under the Volcano)
* Best Director (Miloš Forman)
* Best Picture
* Best Screenplay (Peter Shaffer)


American Cinema Editors:
  • Won (1)
* Best Edited Feature Film (Nena Danevic and Michael Chandler)
Casting Society of America:
  • Won (1)
* Best Casting for Feature Film (Mary Goldberg)
Directors Guild of Americamarker:
  • Won (1)
* Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (Miloš Forman)
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award:
  • Won (1)
* Best Actor (F. Murray Abraham)


United Kingdom

BAFTA:
  • Won (4)
* Best Cinematography (Miroslav Ondříček)
* Best Editing (Nena Danevic and Michael Chandler)
* Best Make Up Artist (Dick Smith and Paul LeBlanc)
* Best Sound (Mark Berger, Thomas Scott and Christopher Newman)
  • Nominated
* Best Actor (F. Murray Abraham)
* Best Costume Design (Theodor Pištěk)
* Best Film (Miloš Forman and Saul Zaentz)
* Best Production Design (Patrizia von Brandstein)
* Best Screenplay - Adapted (Peter Shaffer)


Italy

David di Donatello:
  • Won (3)
* Best Director - Foreign Film (Miloš Forman)
* Best Foreign Actor (Tom Hulce)
* Best Foreign Film
Nastro d'Argento:
  • Won (2)
* Best Actor - Foreign Film (Tom Hulce)
* Best Director - Foreign Film (Miloš Forman)


France

César Award:
  • Won (1)
* Best Foreign Film


Japan

Japan Academy Prize:
  • Won (1)
* Best Foreign Language Film


Norway

Amanda awards:
Won (1)
* Best Foreign Feature Film


References

  1. The Making of Amadeus. DVD. Warner Bros Pictures, 2001. 20 min.
  2. Before Amadeus there was 1935 Mutiny on the Bounty, 1944 Going My Way, 1953 From Here to Eternity, 1956 Giant, 1958 The Defiant Ones, 1961 Judgment at Nuremberg, 1964 Becket, 1969 Midnight Cowboy, 1972 Sleuth, 1976 Network, 1983 The Dresser
  3. The English Patient weekend box office results, BoxOfficeMojo.com
  4. Amadeus weekend box office results, BoxOfficeMojo.com


External links




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