Critiquing Amadeus by Peter ShafferI believe that there are two ways to critique Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus.The first, and the easiest for me, is as an artistic work only.
As an artistic endeavor, Amadeus is a triumph. Particularly stunning isF. Murray Abraham’s performance as the tortured Court Composer AntonioSalieri. Abraham portrays a talented yet mediocre musician who, havingrevered God all his life, shows us clearly that “pride goeth before thefall”. It is Salieri’s greed for fame, and pride in his own “moralgoodness” that lead him to denounce Mozart as a “fiend”. When Godcontinues to shower favor upon mozart, Salieri renounces God, and vowsthat he will be the instrument to thwart God. Salieri’s Fall from Graceis brilliantly documented, and Abraham’s performance utterly believable.Tom Hulce does a splendid job portraying Shaffer’s Mozart. His wildantics and child-like behavior are charming, his laugh infectious andsingular, and his mannerisms unique. However, it is the moments when adifferent Mozart is glimpsed — the tender father, the infuriated courtcomposer, and the dying genius — that Hulce’s talent shines through.To play a buffoon well is one thing, and to show a serious side to thatbuffoon another. To do it all convincingly is the key to the range ofHulce’s abilities.
Additionally, the film is beautifully shot, the costumes enchanting andthe set design marvelously detailed. The lighting in the final scene(depicted above), with its contrasting dark shadows and harsh glare, isespecially creative. This Academy Award-winning film was crafted withgreat skill, and is worthy of the acclaim it received.——————————…
…oung music student, hearing Salieri describe the beautyof this piece — the clarity of the oboe, and the lovely tune of theclarinet — and becoming just as entranced myself by its long,mesmerizing journey to a final cadence.
Also impressive is the inclusion of the Requiem, K. 626, in itsentirety. The death-bed composition scene in Amadeus may be a bitunbelievable, but the use of various movements to accompany Mozart’sdying, Constanze’s return, and Salieri’s passion is clever.
The movie begins with the furious Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. 183,and ends with the deceptively simple Piano Concerto in D minor, K. 466,2nd movement. So begins and ends Mozart’s life, in Peter Shaffer’sAmadeus, and perhaps so begin and end we all: starting off in a fury ofnoise and vigor, and in the end, slipping away quietly with time-takingease.