on January 30, 2003
I first saw "Amadeus" around 1984 when it was first released. Besides being a visual and musical masterpiece of film making, it kick-started my life-long love of and appreciation for classical music.
I won't repeat the story synopsis as it's already been thoroughly described both by Amazon.com's critical review and multiple customers here already.
I will say though that this edition, 'The Directors Cut', is a major improvement over the first DVD release. First, (and finally!!), the movie is now a single-side DVD...gone is the annoying 2 sided 'flipper' that the first release was. You can now watch "Amadeus" from start to finish without having to get up and turn it over. For my money, that's reason enough alone to own this new version.
Secondly, 'The Directors Cut' now adds about 20-30 minutes of previously deleted scenes, placed back into where they were originally intended. Personally I find some of the newer stuff enhances the story overall and fills in some details that were left vague in the original theatrical release. I won't give away any details, but there is a new scene between Mozart's wife, Constanza, and Salieri, Mozart's chief musical rival (and secret arch-enemy) early in the movie that puts an whole new perspective of Salieri's twisted and battered psyche.
As for the DVD itself, the picture and sound quality are both exemplary. Included is a second disk with bonus material including interviews and making-of extras.
If you loved the original, you owe it to yourself to pick up this version. If you're new to classical music and Mozart, this is the best place to start.
lr** Jan 30,2003
If you're a fan of the original theatrical cut of "Amadeus" you'll have mixed feelings about the "Director's Cut". While I perfer the latter for a number of reasons, the feeling and flow of the original theatrical version differs somewhat from the "Director's Cut". The most important part are extended scenes that include Salieri agreeing to help Constanze if she has an affair with him. He ends up rejecting her when she shows that she so loves her husband that she would be willing to do so. A number of the opera scenes are extended as well with more business after the show between Mozart and his leading lady. There's also a longer sequence involving Salieri's visit to Mozart comissioning the "Requiem". Most of the material adds to the power of the film while a few sequences just give additional back story on various characters. The original theatrical version which won an 8 Oscars runs about 25 minutes shorter than the 3 hour "Director's Cut". Forman also provide a fascinating commentary track for the film along with writer Peter Shaffer ("Equus").
The image quality for the "Director's Cut" is superior to the original theatrical version. The film was restored to its original luster for re-release resulting in much more natural flesh tones and a sharper visual image as well. The colors which play in important part in conveying the themes of each sequence are more robust and vivid. The theatrical version looks quite good although it was first issued on DVD as a "flipper" (meaning you had to flip it over) DVD after roughly two hours to watch the last third of the movie. The big advantage for the theatrical version is Neville Mariner's score on an isolated track.
The second disc of the "Director's Cut" has one terrific extra, a brief talent list and the original theatrical trailer. The marvelous behind-the-scenes documentary covers the highlights and difficulties that Forman faced in translating Shaffer's stage play to the screen. At nearly 40 minutes it could have provided more background including outtakes, rehearsals and auditions but it's quite a few documentary as it is. There was plenty of room on the second disc to include Mariner's isolated score but the documentary is really all we get.
As to which is better--it's a toss up. Both versions of the film work extremely well although I prefer the "Director's Cut" for the added footage, the sharper more robust image quality and the higher definintion anamorphic transfer. I do miss the isolated Marriner score of Mozart's music that appeared on the original disc in 5.1. Given the capacity of the second disc, it could easily have been transferred and would have added value to this special edition.
A story of envy, lust and anger "Amadeus" focuses on the brief life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart (Oscar nominee Tom Hulce giving a terrific performance) was a child prodigy who composed his first piece at the age of 4 and produced a remarkably large body of work for such a brief life. His nemesis is court composer Antonio Salieri (Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham in a remarkable performance). This is really Salieri's story as his jealousy drives him to destroy Mozart. Salieri is so consumed with his jealousy, that while recognizing the beauty and originality of Mozart's music, he can't help but want to destroy its creator. Salieri's quaint compositions can't hold a candle to Mozart's complex, original and brilliant pieces.
Featuring inspired supporting performances by Christine Ebersole, Jeffrey Jones, Simon Callow ("Three Weddings and a Funeral"), the only performer that doesn't do anything for me is Elizabeth Berridge as Constanze. She replaced Meg Tilly just prior to shooting. The stunning production design, cinematography and sharp direction make "Amadeus: The Director's Cut" an experience worth savoring. This deluxe edition features a running commentary by director Milos Forman, writer Peter Shaffer ("Equus"), a great 30 minute documentary on the making of the movie and a terrific 5.1 Dolby Digital remastered soundtrack. Restored from the original film elements, the film hasn't looked this robust and colorful in quite some time. The digital anamorphic transfer looks marvelous and almost rich enough to eat. This version doesn't replace the original theatrical version but is more of an enhanced experience for those who loved the first film. Since this version runs roughly three hours, be prepared for a long evening.
Highly recommended, this examination of the destructive power of jealousy still resonates with power, passion and wonderful music. If you're not an opera buff, I'd suggest skipping this for, while the film is powerful, part of the power comes from appreciating the music that Mozart wrote. We see a lot of excerpts from a variety of Mozart's operas throughout the movie. Whichever version of the movie you choose, you'll sure to be delighted. I'd give the "Director's Cut" a slight edge for better picture.
I've purchased every disc release of this movie: the expensive LaserDisc collector's set, the original DVD release and the subsquent Director's Cut, and this new Blu-Ray of the Director's Cut. The Blu-Ray release stands head and shoulders above the rest for picture quality, color, and sound.
My only gripe is that the original theatrical cut is not available on Blu-Ray as a separate item or as an alternative viewing option on the Director's Cut. The theatrical cut is the one that most of us saw first and saw over and over again over the course of some 20 years before the Director's Cut was released on DVD.
The additional footage in the Director's Cut is interesting but, to me at least, seems intrusive. It interrupts the flow and tempo I am used to. There is also a brief scene of female nudity that seems a bit gratuitous. The scene does, though, lend some weight to a scene later in the film where you see Constanze's open hostility toward Salieri. Normally I'm not one to complain about a little female flesh being exposed, but I think the film works well enough without it.
Other "new" scenes follow pretty much the same description: they are interesting but their necessity is debatable.
There is one small addition that I did enjoy, though. Early in the film, during one of the scenes where the elderly Salieri is confessing (?) to the young priest, Salieri is recounting the episode when he first met the young composer Mozart he'd heard about for so many years. He was blown away by his talent but outraged and offended by his peurile behavior. He insisted to the priest that such talent (evident in one composition in particular) could not and should not exist in such a vile and vulgar child. That brilliant composition simply HAD to be an accident! Salieri's lines are briefly extended in that moment, and it adds a wonderful touch of menace. I can't understand why it was cut from the original release.
The LaserDisc release included a wonderful behind-the-scenes documentary called "The Last Laugh". So far I haven't seen it included in any DVD or Blu-Ray release. I'm holding on to my LaserDisc player for precisely that reason. Add that documentary to this Blu-Ray release and you have a slam-dunk 5-star product.
Depending on the release version, this Blu-Ray movie may come in book form and include a short bonus CD of some music from the film and a picture booklet. If you bought/buy the version that comes with the bonus Digital Copy of the film (available at some retailers but harder to find online), bear in mind that the Digital Copy is NOT compatible with iTunes and cannot be loaded to your iPod. There is no wording on the package to indicate this. One has to open the Digital Copy booklet to find that out. The Digital Copy booklet looks the same on the outside as the booklet for the Digital Copies of other movies that ARE compatible with iTunes, so a consumer who has purchased iTunes-compatible Digital Copy-included DVDs before could reasonably assume this one would be compatible also. That consumer would be wrong. Nice bait-and-switch, don't you think?
If you got the non-book version of the Blu-Ray, it probably didn't come with the bonus CD, booklet, or Digital Copy.
on October 13, 2003
The first thing I did with this was watch the "making of" bonus documentary. I had only recently re-watched the film, and wasn't sure I wanted to see it again, so soon. But when I realized how much extra footage was there, I got curious. With all the formerly excised bits put in, the flow of the narrative becomes clearer. Salieri becomes more pathetically wicked, and Mozart becomes more worthy of our empathy; especially from the standpoint of "the plight of the artist". We more fully understand their motivations.
Even Mozart's wife's character is complexified, as well as their marriage (a short spat scene). Thus it takes on a character unlike the original. It's just a bit less "easy", as most Hollywood productions are these days.
But I'm still not sure I prefer this. This is because, although, as I say, this "psuedo biography" makes more sense in its narrative, the scenes that were added are sometimes questionable from a qualitative standpoint. There is an American actor who plays a patron, for example, who hires Mozart to teach his young daughter music; but the scene is so over the top, that it's easy to see why it got cut. Though, you'll understand (and it speaks volumes about how Mozart is portrayed), why Mozart is so smugly sucking on a wine bottle as he walks through the busy streets afterward.
But the scene in which I always thought Salieri's final reaction to Frau Mozart's ploy to get him to help them--wherein he drops the portfolio and leaves the room--makes a lot more sense here. So some of the revived scenes fix small annoyances like this one.
So, as I say, if, like me, this is one of your favorite films, you won't be disappointed by this version, but you will begin to think, perhaps, that the film would have seemed a bit flawed if all of this had been released in the first place. And even wonder if it would have been so popular. So buy the original theatrical version, and rent this--you may like it, but it's left me conflicted--and thus you may decide for yourself before plonking down the loot, how you feel.
Some movies are like old friends, and it's a little difficult to adjust, if say, for instance they show up with a nose job....same deal here.
on December 8, 2009
I'm in agreement with many others who have reviewed the Director's Cut - the added footage ruins the flow of the movie and coherence of the characters.
I love the theatrical release of this movie, and I'm very disappointed that they chose not to include the theatrical release in this blu-ray set. Amadeus is a gorgeous film, and I would very much like to enjoy the original in hi-def splendor.
As of now it's a choice between watching a pretty movie and a good movie. I'll be watching my old DVD theatrical version until they release it on Blu-Ray. Watching the blu-ray directors cut equates to wasting 3 hours getting mad about what they did to an excellent movie.
on March 19, 2009
I'm writing this review as someone who absolutely loves the film "Amadeus." It really is one of the top ten films made after 1980 -- a gorgeous, engrossing, funny, hugely entertaining achievement.
I'm also writing this review as someone who does not own the Blu-Ray edition and in fact refuses to buy it in its current form, even at the low, low sale price of $13.99.
Why? And why only two stars? For one reason and one reason only: this Blu-Ray edition does not (as far as I can tell) contain the original theatrical release.
When "Blade Runner" was released on Blu-Ray last year, I snatched it up immediately. I even paid $30+ for it -- gladly. Why? There were FIVE DIFFERENT VERSIONS of the film included in the package, including the original release with Harrison Ford's voiceover.
When "The Godfather Trilogy" was released on Blu-Ray, I paid more than $40 for it -- gladly -- because they had ALL THREE Godfather films included in the package.
So it's baffling why they didn't do the same thing with "Amadeus." At $30+ or even $40+ it would've been a steal. Without the original theatrical cut, I wouldn't pay more than $5 for this Blu-Ray disc.
I own the standard-definition DVDs of "Amadeus" -- both the original theatrical version (released in 1997!!) AND the Director's Cut that was released a few years later. While the Director's Cut DOES make some things a little clearer in the story, nothing in the Director's Cut -- NOTHING -- makes it a better film. With all due respect to Milos Forman, the original theatrical version is VASTLY SUPERIOR to the Director's Cut. The storytelling is tighter, the film more engrossing. The scenes that were added in the Director's Cut with Kenneth MacMillan and the barking dogs would've been better in a Deleted Scenes section of the DVD -- they're extraneous, superfluous. Too many notes.
It's like the French plantation sequence in "Apocalypse Now" (ANOTHER DVD package that was smart enough to include both the "Redux" version AND the original theatrical release), where you can't wait for the director's self-indulgent digression to end so you can get back to the story.
I would MUCH prefer to watch my 1997 standard-definition DVD of the original theatrical release than pay more than $5 for this Blu-Ray edition. If you've never seen the film, I envy you -- you'll love it. But don't buy this version. Get this one instead: http://www.amazon.com/Amadeus-F-Murray-Abraham/dp/6304712936/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1237481543&sr=8-2
The picture quality won't be as good as Blu-Ray, but you'll be seeing a better film.
on November 14, 2009
A beautiful transfer of video and sound ruined by gratuitous extra footage. The original cut won all the Oscars for a reason. It should have been left alone. Why cannot they offer both versions on the same or 2 discs! Sacrilege.
on December 15, 2004
I've got to relate a short story regarding my first experience with this movie. It was spring,1984, I was full of life and hope. I had just realized my dream of buying a consumer electronics franchise store, and was doing a crash three-week training in Denver, at that time probably my favorite city. I'd become very close to one of the trainers. One evening he invited me to dinner at his house, and I accepted. As we were eating (and drinking), we started talking about entertainment, movies in particular, and how things were changing. He lamented the fact that there was only one of the old glorious "surround screen" theatres left in Denver, and it was only 15 minutes from where he lived. I asked what was playing there. He grabbed a paper and said "Amadeus!!!" I said "when does it start?" He says "15 minutes" and I said "what are we waiting for?"
The movie opened just as we were walking to our seat. We were both immediately so absorbed that we just stood there, awestruck. The dramatic opening combined with the huge screen and overwheming sound totally mesmerized us. We finally found our way to a seat, and for the next 2 hours and 40 minutes, I can remember nothing but being totally transfixed by and trasported to a world totally its own. It was beyond suspension of disbelieve; I was part of this experience, inside the world that was created by Forman.
As the Forman and Shaffer state, the music was a character, perhaps the main character, in the film. The music served to enhance the characters, enhance the plot, and enhance the screenplay itself. Every aspect of the film was beyond perfection, every performance transparant. The fact that it explored so many ironies, explored them so well, and let the music take front and center stage separates this film from other "bio-flicks"; indeed separates this film from any other ever made.
Don't let the fact that it's not based on fact (entirely) dissuade you. The liberties Shaffer takes are all justified by the magnificent plot he creates. Don't let the length dissuade you. If you can devote three hours (if you watch the director's cut) to this, you would have to plain dislike music, all music, to dislike this film. Rather, this film will enrich, provoke, entertain and make us feel our own mortality in a way that makes us feel better. Anyone who is untouched by the final scene just might be incapable of being touched by anything.
I you are a music lover and have not seen this film, shame on you. If you want to know the truth concerning Mozart's life, there are plenty of libraries to obtain what is known. But if you want to capture the spirt of the music, the spirit of the man (Mozart), the torment of his competitor (Salieri), and a true taste of what the world was like in Mozart's time and place, there is no better place to go than this film. If you could care less about all that and just want to see a good movie, there is no better place to go than to this film.
on January 1, 2004
This 160 minute movie (best picture Oscar winner in 1984) chronicles the last ten years of the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), played by Tom Hulce (who was nominated for an Oscar for this role).
This movie's entire story revolves around the conjectured intense jealous relationship between the mediocre composer Antonio Salieri (1750-1825), played by F. Murray Abraham (who won an Oscar for this role) and the genius composer Mozart. It is theorized that this jealously led Salieri to murder Mozart. (In reality, this is one theory of many as to why Mozart died so young.)
Other relationships to watch are those between Mozart and his wife, Constanze (Elizabeth Berridge); between Mozart and his father, Leopold (Roy Dotrice); and finally between Mozart and Emperor Joseph ll (Jeffery Jones).
What's amazing about this movie is its accuracy (which is surprising for a movie usually takes many "artistic liberties"). Here are some examples. Mozart was a child prodigy. He did suffer financial difficulties after he was dismissed from his paid employment with the Archbishop of Salzburg and moved to Vienna. Mozart married Constanze Weber in Vienna. His father did have a disastrous visit to his newlywed son's home. Mozart made the bulk of his income in Vienna by giving concerts and working freelance. He did delight in dancing, billiards, and crude jokes.
The character most interesting in this movie is Salieri which Abraham portrays with great skill. Salieri is aware of Mozart's musical genius (despite other people who do not understand Mozart's music since they claim it has "too many notes" and it makes "too many demands on the Royal ear"). Thus Salieri becomes very jealous of Mozart's genius but Mozart is unaware of this and even regards Salieri as a friend.
Salieri is portrayed as a person who believes in God. The irony here is that Mozart's middle Latin name of Amadeus means "he who loves God." So Salieri eventually sees God as mocking him through Mozart. This causes Salieri to renounce his belief in God since God did not bless him with the same musical genius as Mozart.
Mozart admits that he is a "vulgar man but his music is not." Hulce as Mozart does a good job portraying this vulgarity. History tells us that Mozart had an odd laugh and Hulce does a great job recreating this laugh throughout the movie.
What's really enjoyable about this movie is Mozart's music. Music flowed from Mozart unceasingly and the movie shows this well. This movie gives a good representative sample of his more than 600 musical compositions especially his opera, piano (his favorite instrument), and symphonic (he wrote more than forty symphonies) music.
Mozart's music is not just used as background music in the movie but is an essential ingredient that adds to each scene. For example, when Mozart dies, his uncompleted choral piece, the Requiem (which he was commissioned to write) is used to heighten the dramatic and emotional impact of his funeral. It's almost as if he intentionally wrote the Requiem for his own death.
Finally, this movie is visually stunning especially with respect to the interior of theatres. I especially remember the large chandeliers. All rooms in homes and palaces seem to be filled with authentic period artifacts (such as paintings and antique furniture).
In conclusion, don't miss this movie!! It gives you a chance to experience the life of a musical genius through the eyes of a mediocre composer who described the music of this genius as the "Voice of God."
on August 22, 2014
With a name like "Amadeus," you probably know that the music in this is going to be GREAT. This is also a very good film if you don't mind the tragic tone of a man who has already fallen into insanity narrating it. There is a depressing tone throughout, and the end isn't exactly uplifting.
It basically starts with Salieri (rival to Mozart and the soon to be narrator) attempting to kill himself. Naturally, his attempt fails, and he is taken to a mental hospital. When a priest comes to visit, Salieri begins the whole story of what happened. So naturally, the story is based on Salieri's memory. I will admit there is an interesting and creepy Edgar Allen Poe style there.
Salieri becomes the court composer for the Emperor of Austria. And all seems well UNTIL Mozart comes into his life. We've all heard the stories of musical rivals before. But Salieri has to deal with not only knowing that while he is a good musician and teacher, Mozart is a genius, but he has to deal with Mozart's rudeness (to say the least) as well. The rivalry between them starts when Salieri makes a song to welcome him, and then Mozart decides to criticize it, embellish it, and laugh at Salieri. (Let's be honest. Salieri didn't deserve that, and anyone would have been hurt there.)
Needless to say, the rivalry doesn't get better. It only gets worse, until Salieri decides to arrange Mozart's death somehow.
One of the most depressing things about this film is the tragic paradox.. Salieri is pious, socially graceful, and skilled as far as a businessman in music. But it's his very knowledge that is driving him mad. Because he is the one who can see just how much Mozart's skills exceed his: "I spent all this time praising a sound that I alone seemed to hear." So he has enough knowledge to be hurt by Mozart's skills, but not enough to come close to them. To make it even worse for Salieri, not only is Mozart's music driving Salieri insane, but poor Salieri becomes addicted to the very music that is driving him insane.
The other depressing thing is that Mozart is a musical genius. But he has little if any social grace. He can create masterpieces, but he can't fit it into the needs of the people who could offer him money and a living. He looks like he's going to fly into insanity when the Emperor explains that his works are just too long. ("There are too many notes.") It's as if Mozart considers himself subject only to the music without understanding that if you want to sell the music, you have to take (at least to some extent) into consideration the people you expect to win approval and wages from.
In a sneaky way, the film does hint that if they hadn't had so much animosity towards each other, they probably would have been an unstoppable team. But it was not to be. What we can see from the film is that Salieri (despite falling short of being a musical genius) knew how to please the people and keep himself employed, whereas Mozart, despite being the musical genius that he was couldn't understand that the audience he played to was not at the musical level he was. (Thus they couldn't really appreciate his over the top work.)
Very quick comparison of the Theatrical vs the Director's Cut. The DC has 20 extra minutes, but in my opinion, these extra 20 minutes don't help the film. (1) Salieri's conversation with the priest goes on a bit longer,(2) There is a scene in a dressing room where Salieri has a discussion with the woman he loves, and with Mozart present as well, he realizes she slept with Mozart, (3) Salieri prays for God to relocate Mozart for both of their sakes, (4) Costanza asks Mozart to be more cooperative with certain powers who could get him a teaching job, and he basically tells her to shut up. (5) Salieri at one point demands an 'R rated favor' from Costanza in return for helping Mozart get a job, (6) Salieri pleads to Christ to give him some inspiration for in which return, he will give Mozart a job, (7) Costanza takes off her to top to Salieri, but he can't bring himself to perform the act, (8) Salieri tells Emperor Joseph II that Mozart has been molesting his students, (9) Mozart asks Salieri for a loan, (10) Mozart tries to give a young girl a teaching lesson, but is unable to do so because of the noise her father's dogs are making. (I'll admit I thought that scene was funny.) Moving on,(12) Salieri discusses Mozart's declining financial status with the Baron, and (13) Mozart in a desperate state goes to borrow money from the father of the woman he tried to teach in the 10th scene I mentioned.
The restored scenes (while interesting to see), in my opinion really don't add much to the film. If anything, they slow it down and restate things that we already know from footage in the theatrical version. My opinion is that you're better off with the theatrical version.
Summed up, it's a great film with excellent music, and a creepy Edgar Allen Poe type narration. It is however depressing in that we have a genius who can't learn, and we have a man with good knowledge which doesn't allow him to create beyond a certain point, but it does allow him to see what he's lacking. Possibly the best thing about this film is that more of us can probably identify with Salieri, and while we might be disturbed by his fall into insanity, and his desire to 'end' Mozart, we might find ourselves wondering just how different we may have been given the same circumstances.
In a chilling irony Salieri decides to start Mozart's undoing by (in disguise) asking Mozart to write a requiem for a man who died and didn't get the requiem he deserved. Perhaps Salieri on a subconscious level is talking about himself. Mozart did (in a way) kill the man Salieri was.
(But if it's any comfort, Salieri did win an award for his role in this film, and when he accepted the award, he said good things about Mozart.)
If I do have a complaint about the film, it's the tragic hopelessness of it. But then of course, history does show that Salieri ended his life in an institution and was screaming (even if in insanity) that he killed Mozart. Though of course, no signs of foul play were found when Mozart died, despite dying at a young age. It follows a very Cliff Marlowe style. By that I mean, its been said that "Marlowe isn't quite sure why man was put on the earth. But he did seem sure that the arrangement didn't work." And that is the kind of concept we have here in this film.
However, even if the story is depressing and hard to take, the music is great.