OH! This movie is WONDERFUL, this movie is BEAUTIFUL! I just love it, and not because of my fixation on Mozart, but because it is a beautifully made, completely moving work of art.
What many people do not seem to understand is that the film is entirely Salieri's--it is NOT in any way about Mozart himself, nor is it a biography about the composer. It is about Salieri's madness and obsession WITH Mozart, and yet because the character of Mozart is played so unforgettably by Tom Hulce in such an unconventional performance, the viewer takes most notice of him and will think him the central figure. The film chooses to highlight the comparison of mediocrity versus genius; Mozart is obviously the better of the two composers, and Salieri can see his own mediocrity and recognize his inferiority to Mozart so well that he is driven insane. Watch the film again; while it is true much biographical information about Mozart's life is given while telling us relatively little on Salieri's, you will see that the purpose of this is only to highlight Mozart's genius, his natural and uncanny abilities that come so easily to him. We see how his life affects Salieri's directly and we see Salieri old in his wheelchair, long after Mozart has died, still being affected by it.
One might say "Then WHY is it called 'Amadeus?'" as that is Mozart's middle name, and naming the film after him would certainly cause one to believe that the central figure would have the title (was not "Forrest Gump" about Forrest Gump?) But why, then, "Amadeus?" Why not "Mozart" or "Wolfgang," the only names he is referred to as in the movie? Look at the connotative meaning of the name "Amadeus:" In Latin it means "Loved by God." It's so perfect, so fitting that this should be the title; Peter Schaffer could not have asked for better! Not only does Salieri throughout the entirety of the movie express his disdain for Mozart, but he keeps coming back to God: "Why does God not give me talent? Why Mozart? Why does God love him, but not me?" Indeed, Mozart IS loved by God, if God's love is shown through gifts and abilities. "Amadeus" does not stand for Mozart himself, but for a major theme expressed throughout the film.
Oh, the themes, motifs, symbolism and hidden meanings! But what of the movie itself? The brilliant acting, the beautiful dresses and jackets, the unforgettable scenes? F. Murray Abraham is perfectly cast in this perfectly acted role; he grimaces and holds back hatred so perfectly, and nothing about his performance makes you think he is acting. Tom Hulce as Mozart is wonderful-most will remember his annoying laugh that bursts forth at the most inappropriate of times. The most memorable scene occurs at the end, when Mozart is on his deathbed, dictating his requiem to Salieri as Salieri struggles still to understand the brilliant notes flowing through Mozart's mind. The importance lies not in the fact that Mozart is dying (though his departure from the movie, for me, was quite traumatic) but in seeing how Salieri must have more of Mozart's work; he hates this man and yet he recognizes the brilliance of his music, a brilliance he will never posses. Some of the most enjoyable scenes depict productions of Mozart's operas; "The Abduction from the Seraglio" finale in the beginning is bright and joyous; "The Magic Flute" Queen of the Night aria scene is shown and contains of the most beautiful arias I have ever heard. Even if you don't like opera, you will be amazed at how high the soprano must sing.
This is just my absolute favorite movie, and I certainly did not analyze it like this the first time I saw it. I did not see everything either, the important themes and such, but every time I watched it I got more out of it. And it really is just so enjoyable, so funny, so perfect. The music, the actors-there is just something about them. Perhaps because none went on to be stars, and all you see is the movie, not the actors. I am basing everything on the original cut, not the new director's version, which I have seen, but I have entirely different things to say about it. The original is perfect as is. Watch it, you will see what I mean. You'll love it. I know I do!