Cast & Crew
F. Murray Abraham
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's career and life are threatened by an envious court composer Antonio Salieri.
F. Murray Abraham
Jonathan Patrick Moore
C J Appel
T M Christopher
Vivien Hillgrove Gilliam
Ronald A Jacobs
Debra L Mcdermott
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Michael G Ross
Patrizia Von Brandenstein
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Costume Design
The story of Salieri's pathological jealousy and scheming attempts to sabotage Mozart's reputation and career is historically dubious to say the least--historians have noted that their professional rivalry was also marked by mutual respect and they even collaborated on a (now lost) cantata--and his "mediocrity" a matter of context. Salieri was an influential composer and teacher in his day, no genius but a consistent creator of popular works whose work (like those of so many of his contemporaries) fell out of favor while the undeniably magnificent work of Mozart became part of the classical canon. But it is that contrast between the revered and the forgotten that makes Amadeus so compelling, with the aging artist living out his life in the shadow of the dead Mozart and recounting the story of how he killed Mozart (or so he says) to a dubious priest.
The play debuted in London in 1979, with Paul Scofield as Salieri, Simon Callow as Mozart, and Felicity Kendal as Constanze, Mozart's provincial wife. It made its Broadway premiere in 1980, with Ian McKellen as Salieri, Tim Curry as Mozart and Jane Seymour as Constanze and eventually earned five Tony Awards. Film director Milos Forman was in the audience of its first London preview and immediately declared his wish to bring it to the screen. "When I asked [director Milos Forman] what he would do with the piece, he replied that a film based on a play is actually a new work, an entirely different fulfillment of the same impulse that had created the original," recalled Schaffer. "The adaptor's task was to explore many variant paths in order to arrive in the end at the same emotional place, and that the director must collaborate with the author in order to achieve this." The process took several months and while the story and flashback structure (framed by Salieri's confession that he killed Mozart) remained the same, the finished screenplay differed significantly from the original play in many other respects. Shaffer's play used distinctively theatrical devices and stylized approaches designed for the stage. For the screen, Forman took a more "realistic" and less expressionistic approach to telling the story.
It's safe to say that few (if any) of the audience members of this highly popular film had even heard of Salieri before the credits rolled, but Mozart is a name that resonates even with those who can't name one of his compositions. As illustrated in the opening scenes of Amadeus, it takes but a few notes to call up works that have long since become part of the musical landscape of our culture. But it's not, strictly speaking, envy that drives Salieri. It's a sense of betrayal that he, who has worked so hard honing his skills and talents and who has the capacity to recognize such innovative genius and be so moved by great art, is refused the genius that God has bestowed upon a rude, uncouth man-child. This Mozart brays like a farm animal in the royal court and brings his lewd manners into drawing room society: a devilish imp who produces music fit for heaven. In Salieri's own words, describing a piece of music composed by Mozart: "It seemed to me that I was hearing the very voice of God." That voice became, to Salieri's ears, a taunt. Denied the ability to make such art, he chooses to destroy that which offends his sense of order and grace in the world.
A number of notable actors played the leading roles through the lengthy London and New York runs of the play but Forman cast the roles anew for the film. With the support of his producer, Saul Zaentz (who had worked with Milos Forman once before, on the Oscar®-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975), Forman chose to avoid recognizable movie stars and audition relative unknowns for the major roles. F. Murray Abraham had appeared on screen in a number of supporting roles but at the time he was cast as Salieri he was still best known for his stage work. Tom Hulce, who was cast as Mozart, had understudied the role on its original Broadway run but was better known in the movies as the bright-eyed college freshman rushing the most notorious fraternity on campus in Animal House (1978). Elizabeth Berridge was a relative newcomer compared to the two veterans and was a last-minute replacement for Meg Tilly, who had to drop out of the film due to an injury before shooting began. Simon Callow, who had originated the role of Mozart in London, took the role of Emanuel Schikaneder, an actor in the popular theater who engages Mozart to compose The Magic Flute. Jeffrey Jones, who went on to cult fame as the obsessive high school principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), played the dim Emperor Joseph II, a man swayed by opinion (notably that of his advisors and his court composer, Salieri) and his own somewhat banal tastes.
Forman shot Amadeus largely on location in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he could most cost-effectively recreate 18th-century Vienna on the streets of the old city, and in Vienna, he was able to stage his recreation of Mozart's Don Giovanni in the Count Nostitz Theatre where Mozart conducted the premiere two hundred years previously. In an unusual creative partnership, Forman worked closely with both Shaffer and Zaentz on the day-to-day production. The score, drawn almost exclusively from Mozart's compositions, was recorded specifically for the film by Academy of St. Martin in the Fields under the direction of Sir Neville Marriner. According to Forman and Schaffer, Marriner agreed to participate on the condition that Mozart's music would be presented as written from the original scores, with no revisions or edits.
Released in 1984, five years after the original stage production debuted in London, the film was a popular and critical hit and swept the Academy Awards by winning eight Oscar®s, including Best Picture, Best Director for Forman, Best Adapted Screenplay for Shaffer and Best Actor for F. Murray Abraham. In 2001, Forman (with the blessings of both Shaffer and Zaentz) prepared a longer "Director's Cut" for a new theatrical release, incorporating about 20 minutes of extra footage unseen in the original cut.
Amadeus brought a new popular interest in the music of Mozart (the soundtrack recording became one of the best-selling classical albums of all time) and turned the classical composer into a pop-culture figure (which reached its height--or perhaps its nadir--in the dance hit "Rock Me Amadeus" by Austrian singer Falco). The most surprising reverberation from the movie was the rediscovery of Antonio Salieri, all but forgotten for well over a century until the movie inspired orchestras to seek out his works and companies to revive his operas. But even with this minor resurgence of interest, it is the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that makes this movie sing with the voice of angels.
Producer: Saul Zaentz
Director: Milos Forman
Screenplay: Peter Shaffer (original screenplay and play)
Cinematography: Miroslav Ondricek
Art Direction: Karel Cerny
Film Editing: Michael Chandler, Nena Danevic; T.M. Christopher (2002 director's cut)
Cast: F. Murray Abraham (Antonio Salieri), Tom Hulce (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), Elizabeth Berridge (Constanze Mozart), Simon Callow (Emanuel Schikaneder/Papageno in 'The Magic Flute'), Roy Dotrice (Leopold Mozart), Christine Ebersole (Katerina Cavalieri/Constanza in 'Abduction from the Seraglio'), Jeffrey Jones (Emperor Joseph II), Charles Kay (Count Orsini-Rosenberg), Kenny Baker (Parody Commendatore), Lisabeth Bartlett (Papagena).
C-158m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning. Descriptive Video.
by Sean Axmaker
Vincent Schiavelli (1948-2005)
He was born on November 10, 1948 in Brooklyn, New York. After he studied acting at New York University's School of the Arts, he quickly landed a role in Milos Foreman's Taking Off (1971), and his career in the movies seldom dropped a beat. Seriously, to not recognize Schiavelli's presence in a movie or television episode for the last 30 years means you don't watch much of either medium, for his tall, gawky physique (a towering 6'6"), droopy eyes, sagging neck skin, and elongated chin made him a casting director's dream for offbeat and eccentric parts.
But it wasn't just a striking presence that fueled his career, Schiavelli could deliver the fine performances. Foreman would use him again as one of the mental ward inmates in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975); and he was hilarious as the put-upon science teacher, Mr. Vargas in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982); worked for Foreman again as Salieri's (F. Murray Abraham's) valet in Amadeus (1984); unforgettable as an embittered subway ghost who taunts Patrick Swayze in Ghost (1990); downright creepy as the brooding organ grinder in Batman Returns (1992); worked with Foreman one last time in The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996); and was a dependable eccentric in Death to Smoochy (2002). Television was no stranger to him either. Although he displayed a gift for comedy playing Latka's (Andy Kaufman) confidant priest, "Reverend Gorky" in a recurring role of Taxi, the actor spent much of his time enlivening shows of the other worldly variety such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Tales from the Crypt, The X Files, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
In recent years, Schiavelli curtailed the acting, and concentrated on writing. He recently relocated to the Sicilian village of Polizzi Generosa, where his grandparents were raised. He concentrated on his love of cooking and in 2002, wrote a highly praised memoir of his family's history as well as some cooking recipes of his grandfather's titled Many Beautiful Things. He is survived by two children.
by Michael T. Toole
Vincent Schiavelli (1948-2005)
Restorations - Amadeus
AMADEUS - The Director's Cut
In May 2002, Warner Brothers re-released Amadeus (1984) theatrically in a special "Director's Cut" version but the film only played a few selected cities in the U.S. so very few people had a chance to see it. Luckily, Amadeus: Director's Cut is now available on DVD. Based on Sir Peter Shaffer's London and Broadway stage hit, the film includes 20 additional minutes of drama, music and sound not included in the 1984 release, all of which were added with the approval of Milos Forman, Sir Peter and Saul Zaentz.
The 2-disk DVD of Amadeus: Director's Cut includes a commentary by Milos Forman and writer Peter Shaffer, the theatrical trailer, and a behind-the-scenes documentary entitled The Making of Amadeus. The film is presented in its widescreen anamorphic format with Dolby sound and closed-captioning options.
In 1985 the original theatrical release of Amadeus won 8 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for F. Murray Abraham, Best Screenplay Adaptation for Peter Shaffer, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Make-up and Best Sound.
Amadeus was directed by Milos Forman and produced by Saul Zaentz, the team that swept the 1976 Academy Awards (winner of the 5 major Oscars) with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). Amadeus was adapted for the screen by its author Sir Peter Shaffer. In the much coveted leading roles, F. Murray Abraham is featured as Antonio Salieri, the jealousy-ridden 18th Century composer, and Tom Hulce plays the hapless victim of his venom, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the man-child genius whose music is heard throughout the film.
Described by Shaffer as 'a fantasia based on fact,' Amadeus was inspired by persistent rumors in the early 19th Century that Mozart had been poisoned by his rival Salieri, a successful court composer driven mad by the revelation of his own mediocrity when compared to Mozart's God-given genius.
Noted choreographer Twyla Tharp staged the ballets used in Mozart's operas the way they were danced in his day. Filmed almost entirely in Czechoslovakia, director Milos Forman's native country, the segments from Don Giovanni were staged in Prague's famed Tyl Theatre, where Mozart conducted the premiere in 1787.
To purchase a copy of Amadeus: Director's Cut, visit Movies Unlimited.
The Definitive 35mm Restoration of METROPOLIS - Lang's Pioneering Futurist Extravaganza
METROPOLIS (1927), Fritz Lang' groundbreaking science fiction epic, will screen in a new 35mm restoration at Film Forum from July 12 through 25 (two weeks). This new restoration, the fruit of a four-year effort by a team of German experts who worked with source material culled from archives around the world, is the most complete version of METROPOLIS since the film's Berlin premiere 75 years ago. (Kino will be releasing it on video and DVD in 2003).
Amid the gleaming towers of a gigantic city of the future, Gustav Frohlich, pampered son of Alfred Abel, the Big Boss himself, is smitten by a young woman (Brigitte Helm, in a sensational film debut) ushering workers' children on a topside field trip, and follows her back to the depths, where he discovers what really makes Metropolis run. And as slavishly regimented workers with numbers instead of names toil amid smoke-belching machinery, he has a vision of slaves lining up for sacrifice at the flaming mouth of the idol Moloch. But anticipating unrest, Abel makes plans to defuse it, inciting eccentric inventor Rudolph Klein-Rogge to fashion an agent provocateur, the "robot-Maria" (Helm again!).
Inspired (or so legend says) by his first glimpse of the Manhattan skyline, Fritz Lang's visionary work of science fiction redefined the term "super-production" - in the process nearly bankrupting Ufa studios - with its thousands of extras (cheap, in the era of Weimar hyperinflation); already-monstrous sets inflated to the gargantuan by cutting-edge camera trickery (including the first use of the legendary Schufftan process, whereby miniatures and live action are filmed simultaneously); and eye-popping special effects extravaganzas, including the explosion of the "heart machine;" the Frankenstein-like genesis of the robot girl; and a cataclysmic, multitude-engulfing flood.
A legend and a byword almost from first release,METROPOLIS was seen as Lang conceived it only by the earliest Berlin audiences ("positively overwhelming," raved the Variety critic after the premiere), and then the cutting began, by the U.S. distributor Paramount, by Ufa itself, and so on, down to a 1984 "restoration" that ran only 87 minutes. Now, film restoration specialists Alpha-Omega, working at the behest of Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung and Bundesarchiv Filmarchiv, has collated the seven existing source copies - all original nitrate material, and digitally restored 1257 scenes via a laborious multi-step process. The result, generated back to pristine 35mm prints, is probably the most complete, integral version of Lang's work that will ever be seen - complete with a new recording of the original orchestral score by Gottfried Huppertz and jaw-dropping imagery that you won't remember from the print you saw in film class or the copy you rented at the local video store. This is, literally, METROPOLIS like you've never seen it before.
For more information about METROPOLIS , visit the FILM FORUM.
Restorations - Amadeus
Winner of the 1984 Los Angeles Film Critics Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Abraham), and Best Screenplay.
Released in United States 1998
Released in United States February 2002
Released in United States September 1984
Released in United States Summer September 1, 1984
Re-released in United States April 20, 2002
Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (2002 Director's Cut) (Programme/ in competition) February 6-17, 2002.
Shown at Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (Retrospective) October 26 - November 15, 1998.
Cinemascope (2002 Director's Cut)
Released in United States 1998 (Shown at Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (Retrospective) October 26 - November 15, 1998.)
Released in United States February 2002 (Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (2002 Director's Cut) (Programme/ in competition) February 6-17, 2002.)
Re-released in United States April 20, 2002 (2002 Director's Cut)
Released in United States September 1984
Released in United States Summer September 1, 1984