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Amadeus—Director’s Cut

Director: Milos Forman


Now running over three hours with the restoration of twenty minutes that Milos Forman had to trim before the 1984 release, this director’s cut differs from existing prints largely by degrees, most notably a slightly filled-out role for Mozart’s childlike yet canny spouse. So how does the multiple Oscar-winning adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s play stand up these days? Rather well, it has to be said. Watching this ideas-driven drama unfolding at a leisurely pace, you’re almost reminded of a more enlightened age, a time when scenes were allowed to run on to their fullest expression, guided by the thrust and counter-thrust of literate dialogue. Hard to see anyone these days stumping up millions for a lavish costume piece where classical music is the star, and whose subject is God-given genius itself, as a catalyst for joy, jealousy and misunderstanding.
The sheer craftsmanship on display compels attention. The framing device, which has institutionalised former Viennese court composer Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) confessing to the ‘murder’ of Mozart (Tom Hulce), wraps around a deft potted biography of the prodigiously gifted Wolfgang, viewed from the perspective of an enviously tormented man whose expert appreciation of Mozart made his own success resoundingly empty. With its painterly camerawork, wonderfully preserved locations in Forman’s native Prague and truly glorious soundtrack, newcomers will certainly understand where the eight Academy Awards came from, even if it’s perhaps a film which excites admiration rather than impassioned emotions. Still, the exquisite balance of Abraham’s performance, Hulce’s defiantly brattish ‘Wolfie’ and the scene-stealing Jeffrey Jones’ bumbling Emperor Joseph deliver a raft of moments to savour, while the judiciously chosen musical excerpts help shade the tone from wry comedy to dark tragedy.oTrevor Johnston.
U.S.A., 1984. Director’s Cut, 2002. Colour. Panavision anamorphic. Dolby digital stereo. 188 mins.

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