REEL MOTION: Amadeus is historical Fantasia in G minor

Oct 29, 2018

Welcome to Reel Motion, a series of blog posts that examine the Northrop Film Series selections. Find out more about the Amadeus screening Wed, Oct 31 at 6:30 pm before Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's performance of Mozart in Motion on Thu, Nov 8.

Amadeus hardly needs an introduction. Released in 1984, it won 40 awards including BAFTAS, Golden Globes, Academy Awards and a Director's Guild award for Miloš Forman.

Adapted by playwright Peter Shaffer from his stage play (itself based on a play by Aleksandr Pushkin), it is a masterpiece of the historical biopic genre. According to Forman, the film increased sales of Mozart records by 1,000 percent.

Amadeus explores obsession, ambition, and envy, all of the ingredients that make great opera. In the film you'll see Tom Hulce as Mozart conduct The Abduction from the Seraglio and the dramatic final scene of Don Giovanni.

Its original theatrical release was rated PG and ran at 161 minutes. For this screening, we will be showing the Director's Cut with additional footage restored by Forman in a 2002 release. The additional footage brings it to an R rating, more befitting the reality of Mozart’s life. This is, after all, the composer who, in addition to writing some of the most sublime symphonies and seminal operas, also wrote Leck mich im Arsch.  If you want to get to know this fascinating and complex human beyond the film, read his letters. They directly inspired Forman's characterization of Mozart in the film.

Beyond changing the film's rating, the additional footage puts a little bit more focus on the relationship of Mozart and his wife, cutting the tension of watching Salieri’s admiration turn to jealousy and then homicide. It also restores some of the choreography Twyla Tharp created for the film. With a score comprised entirely of works by Mozart and Salieri, Amadeus is the perfect warm up to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Mozart in Motion program.

Shayna Houp is Northrop's Artist Services Manager and curates the Film Series each season.

 

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