I’m probably going to be telling a lot of stories about the first time I watched these movies for Movie of the Week, so bear with me. The summer following my freshman year of high school, I had made a list of all of the IMDB Top 250 films that I had never seen. Each week, I would zoom over to Blockbuster (I am still in mourning) and pick up a handful of movies from the list. One week, a film was drawing near that, based on the description, sounded like an awfully slow, boring, and plain snooze-worthy ordeal. This was before the time where I could pretty much get myself excited over any movie, so to sit down and see a 180 minute run time for a biopic on Mozart, I was significantly reluctant to watch it–but I made myself.
And what a life-changing decision that was.
“Amadeus” is brilliant. Directed by the amazing Milos Forman (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, it tells the tale of Mozart not from his point of view, but of the potentially fictional (there’s a lot of criticism over the film for fictionalizing the accounts) Antonio Salieri (F. Abraham Murray), Mozart’s supposed rival. Telling the story from a mental hospital, Salieri spends the film in awe of Mozart (Seattle resident Tom Hulce) as he is horribly jealous and envious of his talent, but bitter towards the immature party boy. It can even be seen as a tragedy, as Salieri can understand Mozart’s genius, he knows what is masterful, but he himself cannot–and never will–come close to making music of the same caliber.
Hulce is completely insane as Mozart, with a screeching cackle and the horniness of a high school freshman, he is highly unpredictable and that makes him all the more entertaining to carry us through the three-hour film. Witnessing him composing some of his greatest works, and seeing them all performed with extraordinary set designs and costumes, makes this an utterly fascinating–and incredibly exhilarating-spectacle. You’d think that a musical biopic would simply be a feast for the ears, but its stunning cinematography make it just as tasty for the eyes. When I first watched it, the three hours flew by in the blink of an eye, forever silencing me from looking down on a movie for its run-time and subject matter.
Need a little more incentive to check this flick out? It won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture in 1984. If the length is daunting, split it up into two parts: but I have a feeling, once you start, you’re gonna wanna finish it right then and there.
180 mins. Rated R.