Amadeus (movie)

Amadeus is an American film directed by Miloš Forman , released in 1984 , and taken again in 2002 in a director’s cut lengthened version of twenty minutes. Adapted from thehomonymous play by Peter Shaffer , who also signs the script for the film, the story is freely inspired by a short play by Pushkin , Mozart and Salieri (1830).

The film was nominated for 53 awards and received 40, including eight Oscars (including the Oscar for Best Picture ), four British Academy Film Awards , four Golden Globes , and a DGA Award . In 1998, the American Film Institute ranked Amadeus 53 th on its top 100 films.


Vienna , November 1823 . In the heart of the night, a lost old man proclaims this confession: “Forgive, Mozart, forgive your assassin! ” . His room is locked, his servants try to lure him with treats but hear only muffled sounds followed by a shriek. The door sunk, they are face to face with the old man drowned in blood. This man is Antonio Salieri , once a famous musician and composer of the Court.

From childhood, he devoted himself entirely to the service of God, committing himself to celebrate it with his music at the cost of incessant toil and chastity. For the price of his sacrifices, he claims eternal glory. It is then that the world hears about a young boy named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , promoted throughout Europe by his father Leopold . His brilliance enchants the greatest characters and the most brilliant courses. On the other hand, Salieri is disappointed by his own father, who disapproves of his musical ambitions; his accidental death will allow his son to take revenge and begin a career at the height of which he is named composer of the court of the emperor music lover Joseph II. His talent earned him for a few years the highest honors.

In 1781, however, the young Mozart burst into Vienna, preceded by a flattering reputation, but without great education. Mozart is on the way to becoming the greatest composer of the century. Salieri is the first to be convinced. When you have talent but you are faced with genius, how to survive? Understanding the threat his young Mozart poses for his career, Salieri tries to oust him while approaching him to find out why he is so talented.

Technical sheet

  • Director: Miloš Forman
  • Scenario: Peter Shaffer after his play
  • Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , Johann Sebastian Bach , Antonio Salieri , directed by Neville Marriner
  • Music Coordinator: John Strauss  (en)
  • Sets: Patrizia von Brandenstein
  • Costumes: Theodor Pištěk
  • Photography: Miroslav Ondříček
  • Editing: Michael Chandler , Nena Danevic  (in) , TM Christopher ( Director’s cut )
  • Production: Saul Zaentz , Michael Hausman (delegate) and Bertil Ohlsson (delegate)
  • Distribution Companies: Orion Pictures ; AMLF
  • Budget: 18 million dollars
  • Size: Technicolor • 2.35: 1 • 35 mm
  • Language: English , Italian , Latin , German , French
  • Duration:
    • 153 minutes (movie version) ( 1984 )
    • 173 minutes ( director’s cut ) ( 2002 )
  • Release dates:
    •  United States :( preview ), (national release)
    •  France :


Caption : Dubbing the movie version (1984) / Dubbing the Director’s cut version (2002)

  • F. Murray Abraham (VF: John Topart / Pierre Dourlens ) : Antonio Salieri
  • Tom Hulce (VF: Luq Hamet / Idem ) : Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Elizabeth Berridge (DV: Maïk Darah / Agathe Schumacher ) : Constanze Mozart
  • Simon Callow (VF: Patrick Poivey / Constantin Pappas ) : Emanuel Schikaneder
  • Roy Dotrice (VF: Jean Berger / Alain Doutey ) : Leopold Mozart
  • Christine Ebersole (VF: Évelyne Selena / Mélody Dubos ) : Katharina Cavalieri
  • Jeffrey Jones (VF: Claude Giraud / Idem ) : Emperor Joseph II
  • Charles Kay  ( VF: Bernard Dheran / Jean-Luc Kayser ) : Count Francesco Orsini von Rosenberg  (it)
  • Nicholas Kepros (VF: Jean Michaud / Frederic Cerdal ) : Hieronymus von Colloredo , Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg
  • Jonathan Moore (VF: Jacques Brunet / Jean-Pierre Gernez ) : Baron Van Swieten
  • Patrick Hines  ( VF: Jacques Deschamps / Vincent Grass ) : Giuseppe Bonno
  • Jan Blažek : the commander in Don Giovanni
  • Kenny Baker : the commander in the parody-food of Don Giovanni
  • John Strauss  (en) : the conductor
  • Cynthia Nixon (VF: Régine Teyssot ) : Lorl, the servant recruited by Salieri
  • Vincent Schiavelli (VF: Philippe Peythieu ) : the valet of Salieri
  • Philip Lenkowski (VF: Gérard Rinaldi ) : the servant of Salieri
  • Richard Frank  ( VF: Edgar Givry / Stéphane Ronchewski ) : Father Vogler
  • Roderick Cook  ( VF: Georges Berthomieu ) : Count Von Strack
  • Barbara Bryne  ( VF: Jacqueline Porel / Annie Bertin ) : Cäcilia Weber  (in) , Constance’s mother
  • Kenneth McMillan (VF: Christian Peythieu ) : Michael Schlumberg ( Director’s cut only)
  • Cassie Stuart (VF: Maïté Monceau ) : Gertrude Schlumberg (Director’s cut only)
  • Zdeněk Mahler : the cardinal (uncredited)


  • Virtually unchanged since the xviii th century, the Baroque theater Tyl in Prague , which hosted the premiere of the opera Don Giovanni in 1787 , which was used for opera sequences.
  • Only four venues were shot in the studio: the Salieri Hospital Room, Mozart’s Apartment, the Staircase and the Vaudeville Theater . The other shots were made in natural scenery. The light is entirely natural.
  • Forman preferred Prague – although the capital of a Warsaw Pact Member State – to Vienna for the filming not only because it offered less contemporary elements, but also because Forman spent much of his life there.
  • Every day before and during the filming, Tom Hulce spent four hours practicing the piano to look more convincing.

Music samples

The film has many musical passages represented on Viennese stages:

  • The Abduction to the Seraglio : Act III, Bassa Selim lebe lange
  • The Marriage of Figaro : Act I, Cinque … dieci … and Act IV, Gente, gente, all’armi, all’armi
  • The Magic Flute : Act II, Der Hölle Rache
  • The Magic Flute : Act II, Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen
  • Piano Concerto No. 22 Movement 3
  • Serenade “Gran Partita”
  • Piano Concerto No. 15 Movement 3
  • Requiem (Introitus, Dies irae, Rex Tremendae majestatis, Confutatis, Lacrimosa)
  • Axur, re of Ormus de Salieri
  • Piano Concerto No. 20 movements 1 and 2
  • Don Giovanni : Ossia Il dissoluto punito, K.527 – Overture
  • Don Giovanni : ossia Il dissoluto punito, K.527 – Prague version 1787 – Act 2 a cenar teco m’invitasti
  • Symphony No. 25 movement 1
  • Mass in C minor by Mozart , Kyrie, andante moderato

Around the film

  • F. Murray Abraham was offered to play in the film during the filming of Scarface . Thinking to play a supporting role, the actor immediately agreed but, to his surprise, won the first role, that of Salieri.
  • Simon Callow was familiar with the script as he himself played Mozart in a performance of the play at the Royal National Theater in 1979 .
  • The scene of the conversation between Salieri and Constance, enjoying a nipple of Venus , was shot in several takes. At each of them, the actress Elizabeth Berridge ate a new cake and ended up being sick.
  • The dictation scene of the Requiem was largely improvised, giving it a unique character. Hulce and Abraham each had a headset that transmitted the music to them. At one point, one gets the impression that Mozart is lost in his thoughts, but Hulce said that the sound did not come and he forgot his aftershocks, hence the many interruptions of Abraham / Salieri who sought to take over the thread of the scenario.
  • The idea of so particular laughter comes from the letters written about it. In one of them, the artist’s laughter is described as a kind of “contagious stun”, in another as “the scratching metal of glass”.
  • The film is parodied in the series The Simpsons , in the episode In Margin of History in 2004. Bart plays the role of Mozart and Lisa the role of Salieri. Likewise in an episode of the Family Guy series . There are also many parodied scenes in the thirteenth episode of the second season of 30 Rock .

Long version

A long version director’s cut was presented at the Berlinale 2002 and distributed internationally 1 , 2 . This version also presents a character totally absent from the movie version: Michael Schlumberg , played by Kenneth McMillan. For the French version, instead of only doubling the unpublished passages, it was decided to redouble the entire film, and only Luq Hamet and Claude Giraud resumed their places on Mozart and Joseph II. It should be noted that Jean Topart , the voice of Salieri, was contacted for this redoubling but refused to redo what he had already done.

Freedom from reality

This film should not be considered as a biography, but as a fiction that is freely inspired by Mozart’s story, which explains the few differences from the facts.

For example :

  • It is Salieri who is shown commanding the Requiem to Mozart, but we know that it is about a servant sent by Count Franz de Walsegg .
  • Salieri was not present at the time of Mozart’s death and never assisted him in writing his funeral mass; On the other hand, he was very present at his funeral, proof of his admiration and esteem for his young colleague, who was only six years old.
  • Excerpts from L’Enlèvement au serail and La Flûte Enchantée are interpreted in English and not in German, as in the original version.
  • Mozart conducts an orchestra, which he seems to have never done in reality, at least in Vienna, since he had no title other than imperial musician and not Konzertmeister, a title he sought in vain.
  • At the end of the film, Mozart dies in the early morning shortly after the return of his wife and son. In fact, he would have died at about five in the morning, according to the doctor’s diagnosis, and surrounded by his wife and two students at his bedside for several days. At his funeral: in the film, the gravediggers slide Mozart’s body out of his coffin into the mass grave, in fact, the whole coffin was placed in the same grave. In addition, in the film, it snows when ordering the requiem while it was ordered in July 1791. And it rains on the death of Mozart in the film while it was snowing on December 5, 1791.

On the other hand, the play of the actor corresponds to real features of Mozart: he was small of size (1m55), he says it in the correspondence, “remained child” according to his sister, merry and joking constantly, rather hard of judgment against his colleagues, little courtier according to Grimm, not able to manage his career according to his father, who specifies it in a letter that he sends to his son during his installation in Vienna and the rupture of relations .


The film raised $ 51 million in the USA and made 4,585,292 cinema admissions in France in 1984.

It received a very favorable critical reception, receiving 95% of positive reviews, with a score of 8.6 / 10 on Rotten Tomatoes , based on 75 opinions [ref. necessary] .

In addition to its eight Oscars and extremely positive reviews, Amadeus is ranked among the 100 best movies of all time on the IMDB website . For the American Film Institute , the film is ranked in the 53 th place on the list drawn up in 1998, the 100 best American films of cinema history 3 .


Hulce and Abraham were both nominated for the Oscar and the Golden Globes for Best Actor for the same film. Abraham won most of the awards, including the Oscar and the Golden Globe 4 .


  • Oscars of cinema – 1985 (10 proposals / 8 won )
    • Best film
    • Best director : Miloš Forman
    • Best adapted screenplay : Peter Shaffer
    • Best Actor : F. Murray Abraham
    • Best Art Direction : Karel Cerny, Patrizia von Brandenstein
    • Best Costume Design: Theodor Pistek
    • Best Makeup : Dick Smith , Paul LeBlanc
    • Best Sound : Tom Scott, Chris Newman, Mark Berger, Todd Boekelheide
  • Directors Guild of America Awards – 1985
    • Best director: Miloš Forman and his assistant director Michael Hausman
  • César of the cinema – 1985
    • Best foreign film
  • Golden Globes – 1985 (5 proposals)
    • Best director : Miloš Forman
    • Best Actor in a Drama : F. Murray Abraham
    • Best Dramatic Film
    • Best Screenplay : Peter Shaffer
  • BAFTA Awards – 1986
    • Best Photography : Miroslav Ondricek
    • Best Editing : Michael Chandler and Nena Danevic
    • Best Makeup and Hairstyles : Dick Smith and Paul LeBlanc
    • Best sound : John Nutt, Christopher Newman and Mark Berger
  • American Film Institute – 1998
    • 53 st in the list of 100 Greatest American Movies 3
  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards – 1984
    • Best film
    • Best Actor: F. Murray Abraham
    • Best director: Miloš Forman
    • Best Screenplay: Peter Shaffer

Reward proposals

  • Academy Awards – 1985
    • Best Photography : Miroslav Ondricek
    • Best Actor : Tom Hulce
    • Best Editing : Michael Chandler, Nena Danevic
  • BAFTA Awards – 1986
    • Best film
    • Best Actor : F. Murray Abraham
    • Best adapted screenplay : Peter Shaffer
    • Best costumes : Theodor Pistek
    • Best Art Direction : Patrizia von Brandenstein
  • Golden Globes – 1985 (5 proposals)
    • Best Actor in a Drama : Tom Hulce
    • Best Supporting Actor : Jeffrey Jones


  • (in) Martha A. Townsend, ” Amadeus as Dramatic Monologue” Literature / Film Quarterly , Vol. 14, No. 4, 1986, p. 214-219.

External links

  • (in) Amadeus on the Internet Movie Database [ archive ]
  • Amadeus on Allociné [ archive ]
  • (en) Analysis of the film and the play (in English) on 55 pages [ archive ]
  • Analysis of some of the freedoms taken in relation to the historical reality [ archive ]
  • Marceline Evrard, “Representations of the other in the film Amadeus of Milos Forman”, Combined Human Sciences , n ° 2, “Identities, images and representations of the other”, read online . [ archive ]

Notes and references

  1. ↑ See the list of (in) difference on IMDB [ archive ]
  2. ↑ Amadeus on Movie-Censorship [ archive ]
  3. ↑ a and b (in) List 1998 100 greatest American films – 1998 [ archive ]
  4. ↑ (in) Awards and proposals – Internet Movie Database [ archive ]

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