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Amadeus is a 1984 period drama film directed by Miloš Forman and written by Peter Shaffer. Adapted from Shaffer's stage play Amadeus (1979), the story is a variation of Alexandr Pushkin's play Mozart i Salieri (Моцарт и Сальери, 1830), in which the composer Antonio Salieri recognizes the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart but thwarts him out of envy. The story is set in Vienna, Austria, during the latter half of the 18th century. The film was nominated for 53 awards and received 40, including eight Academy Awards (including Best Picture), four BAFTA Awards, four Golden Globes, and a DGA Award. In 1998, the American Film Institute ranked Amadeus 53rd on its 100 Years... 100 Movies list. The story begins in 1823 as the elderly Salieri 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 his relationship with Mozart. Salieri's tale goes on through the night and into the next day.
Amadeus is the story of Mozart (Hulce), the composer with God's gift and the Devil's audacity, and Salieri (Abraham), the composer with God's pity and the Devil's vengeance. In Vienna, Salieri embarks on a jealous quest to bring Mozart to his knees, and, ultimately, his death.
It is a battle that only one of them fights. Mozart never really grasped that Salieri was his enemy until it was too late. Salieri, a man who traded chastity for talent, became obsessed with defeating Mozart as a way to defeat God, and thus he employed all of the impish tricks he could devise. The result is one of the finest crafted forms of revenge ever conceived.
Amadeus is a movie so good that it defies description. Although such praise is often a cop out, Amadeus holds true to this level of acclaim. Watching Amadeus is like listening to Mozart: it is a horrible beauty beyond words.
Check out our review of Amadeus: The Director's Cut here.