Of all the films about the arts that have ever been made, I can think of
only three that stand out, for its sheer ability to display the art of its
creator, so well, and with such vigor. AMADEUS was the first, that I can
remember, and much later, and only in 1993, films like TOUS LES MATINS DU
MONDE and LA BELLE NOISEUSSE. These films are more about the art of
visualization, than they are about anything else. And through their work,
we get an idea how a person sees what they see, and they describe what they
see, in notes, or paints. TOUS LES MATINS, is a painstakingly beautiful
course in music appreciation. NOISEUSSE, is an outstanding expose of what
the hands of an artist actually see in a model, from the first line to a
In between, there is a little of the artist wondering what his own work is
worth, and how it is meaningful to him. On occasion, it helps for us to see
these images. And at times, the images are events which are locked up
inside the creative person, and our seeing them is not very helpful at all.
But somehow the work survives, because people see other things in them.
And this we have learned to love and appreciate through much of these
AMADEUS, is one of those films that stands out, not because of its
outstanding cast, and excellent interplay of very well thought out and
written dialogue by the playwright himself ( what a difference a playwright
makes... ) but also because the story of the young man who became a genius,
also had his moments of self doubt, and several personal failures amidst the
great successes he enjoyed.
Wofgang Amadeus Mozart, is a wiz with a piano (it wasn't called that then,
but it's close enough for us today) under his fingertips, and he set many
parties on fire in his younger days of much carousing and womanizing by
practicing what was then considered a healthy disrespect for music. But
while he had the talent for creating pop events with his dexterity, he also
developed several petty jealousies which nearly destroyed him. One of them,
was a composer called Salieri, who had the ability to write good music, but
his talent was not as free as Mozart's was wild. And the film sets about to
show us how Mozart managed to stay away from the vultures that chased him in
the world of music, until his body finally gave out. Salieri, had enough
ability to recognize the good music, and becomes a good friend by making
sure the young man composes, before he destroys himself, which he predicts.
And to this effect, he undertakes several charades to make sure the
frightened young man is doing the work instead of drinking and carousing.
The film is told in retrospect through the older Salieri, who really misses
the music of the young prodigy, and the wonderful moments it created for him
At times, the film takes on the tongue in cheek approach, to make fun of the
stodgy music lovers in the court, whom Mozart does not dislike, but the
competitive for the king's favorite does make the young man stay on the
outside. Instead the young man creates fun stuff for the street audiences,
and accomplishes some success, though he is not gaining financially. But
still it impresses the older Salieri.
With a superb cast, and lovingly directed to explain, and appreciate the
mind of a genius and its destruction, this film stands out as one of the
best, and very special ones at that...
Peter Shaeffer, is known for his quality of theatre, and his presence in
this work of his, is really one of the few times when a play actually fits
the screen better than it could a stage.
Copyright © 1994 Pedro Sena