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Movie: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The movie takes place in Vienna, Austria in the 1700’s. The film begins

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with the attempted suicide of Antonio Salieri, a court composer of the Austrian

Emperor. He is placed in a mental asylum where a priest visits and asks for his

confession. Salieri claims to have caused the death of Mozart. The rest of the

movie is a narration by the court composer, mostly in flashbacks, of how he

caused this death.

Salieri recounts that while he was playing games as a boy Mozart was

playing music for the King. At the age of four, Mozart composed his first

concerto, at seven, his first symphony, and at twelve, his first opera. He was

considered a child prodigy.

Salieri wished to become a famous composer, like his idol. However, his

father would not allow this. He didn’t want his son to be a ‘trained monkey, on

tour around Europe performing tricks like a circus’. Salieri prayed to God and

what he considered a miracle happened: his father dies and he was able to pursue

his musical studies. He eventually became a popular musician and teacher in the

Emperor’s court. When he heard Mozart was coming to Vienna from Salzburg, he

eagerly sought him out. He finally found him at a party, way from the other

guests, acting like a silly animal, chasing a young woman. However, as soon as

he heard his music starting without him, he changed into a serious musician,

rushing to take his place as conductor. Salieri noticed that Mozart conducted

without notes. Although he recognized that Mozart was a ‘giggling, dirty-minded

creature’, he was also able to see the genius in him. He couldn’t understand why

God had chosen a ‘obscene child to be his instrument’. At another time, Mozart’s

wife presents to Salieri some of his work in an attempt to get him a job as a

teacher. Salieri sees that the music sheets have no corrections and no notes.

Mozart simply composed from his head onto paper. It is then that Salieri is

overwhelmed by his brilliance. He realized that God has given to Mozart the

skills and genius that he has always prayed for, and all he gave to Salieri is

the ability to recognize it. It is at this point that he turned away from God

and set out to ruin Mozart.

Salieri then describes what Mozart was like. Mozart drank too much, he

partied all day and composed all ni…

…live to suffer. As the movie ends, Salieri is being wheeled

through a room of mentally ill patients and this is where he will spend his

remaining days.

I think that Hollywood may have over-exaggerated Mozart’s behaviour. In

my reading there is no evidence that he was like this. I wonder if Salieri

really hated or was jealous of Mozart. Did Salieri really plan to kill the

composer? The World Book Encyclopedia states that Mozart did try to earn money

by teaching pupils. There is no mention of any abnormal behavior.

Whether the movie is true or false, I think the movie tries to show that

genius is next to madness. A person may excel in one subject, yet the growth of

the other parts of his behavior may be stunted. The movie also points out that

jealousy brings misery. Salieri was well paid and popular, had a high position,

and had respect from other people. Yet he remained unhappy and even ruined his

life, all over the fact that another musician was better than he. Finally, it’s

a great tragedy that Mozart died so young and penniless.

The movie was well acted, and the music was beautiful to hear.

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