(comment from anonymous viewer of Amadeus)
Amadeus, the play and movie, conjure a bygone world, a grand society of aristocratic excess and insouciance, artists whose works were not always recognized during their lifetimes, and Wolfgang Mozart and Antonio Salieri playing central roles. Amadeus has been both applauded as one of the greatest films of the twentieth century and at the same time derogated by some academics who find "historical inaccuracies" within it. There are those who even cavil at the title, Amadeus, since Mozart himself never used that name (In his hundreds of letters, Mozart used either Amade' or Amadeo, but never Amadeus, as his middle name). But that's the whole point ! It was a movie, not a biography! (By the way, Mozart's baptismal name was Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. Theophilus transliterates to Gottlieb in Deutsch and Amadeus in Latin).
Millions have seen Amadeus, the 1984 movie, and tens of thousands have also experienced the eponymous play that preceded it in 1979. Peter Shaffer, Milos Forman and Saul Saenz never intended to make an historically accurate work when they created Amadeus. Rather, in both works, they crafted a fantasy world, loosely based on facts and Pushkin's play, Mozart und Salieri, in which they opined deeply on the relationship between genius and talent, and the gulf between ineffable art and journeyman "mediocrity."
Shaffer and Forman created their own certifiable work of art. They stated from the outset that Amadeus would not be historicity, but rather, drama and fantasy, and it has captivated us for over three decades.
Moreover, they knew a tremendous amount about the historical Mozart, more than many who still want to show their "book knowledge" in articles and essays, by nitpicking those moments where the movie and play deviated from reality and historicity.
Even when the movie deviated from "the truth about Mozart," Forman and Shaffer's deep understanding and scholarship about Mozart's creative process delighted us as it enlightened us. For example, conjure the famous scene where Salieri, as amanuensis, is taking dictation from the dying Mozart as he (Mozart) creates the Confutatis movement of the Requiem. This event never took place. (If it was anyone, it was Franz Xaver Sussmayr who took those notes). Yet, Forman and Shaffer brilliantly reconstruct cinematographically the creative process of composition, and it is much closer to "the truth" than anything else I have read or witnessed.
Shaffer and Forman took us much further. They brought us into Mozart's sublime sound world, dazzling our senses with scores of Mozart's sublime works,as splendidly performed by Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy-of-St-Martin-in-the Fields. This sonic glory is priceless and eternal.
Shaffer and Forman actually honored Salieri himself, much more than others in the music world had done to that point, by resurrecting and showcasing the finale of his greatest opera, Axur, re di Ormo (Axur, King of Ormus), complete with over-the-top period costumes and set design. The scene was unforgettable.
Shaffer and Forman won eight well-deserved Academy Awards for Amadeus. They have been lauded for having created a wondrous jewel that honors Mozart by introducing his ineffable music to millions.
Thank you, Peter Shaffer, Milos Forman, Saul Saenz. Thank you, actors Tom Hulce (Mozart), F. Murray Abraham (Sallieri), Elizabeth Berridge (Constanze), Jeffrey Jones (Emperor Joseph II) and your colleagues. You got Amadeus so right !
Ars longa !
Ars Amadei longior !
@ Vincent P. de Luise MD 2015