Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Amadeus (1984)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Amadeus (1984)

In Oscar-winning director Milos Forman's opulent, historical epic/costume drama based on Peter Shaffer's extravagant 1980 Broadway play:

  • the opening attempted suicide scene in which envious Austrian court composer Antonio Salieri (Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham) - driven by guilt - slashed his throat with a razor, believing that he had killed rival composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Oscar nominee Tom Hulce)
  • one of many flashbacks: the dining room sequence of Salieri's voyeuristic watching (while hiding) of a boisterous couple: the amorous, crude and bawdy, lecherous, hyena-laughing, giggling childish musical prodigy - Mozart himself - and his fiancee Constanze (Elizabeth Berridge); he saw Mozart grab Constanze and drag her under the table with him; Mozart playfully spoke with her: "Ssik, Kiss, Ym, my, ssa. Kiss my ass"; he seriously proposed marriage to her ("Em-yrram!"), but when she refused, he replied that he loved her ("Uoy-evol-I-tub"); when he then told her to eat his shit ("Tihs-ym-tae") while kissing her bounteous cleavage, she called him a "filthy fiend"; it was unnerving for Salieri to hear the supposedly 'dignified' and virtuous musician drunkenly using lewd scatological humor while chasing after Constanze; reflecting back, Salieri expressed his disgust and disbelief: "That was Mozart! That, that giggling, dirty-minded creature I'd just seen crawling on the floor..."
Dining Room Scene: Salieri Spying on Mozart and Constanze
  • in flashback, after Mozart's musical concert for Prince-Archbishop Colloredo (Nicholas Kepros) of Salzburg in Vienna, Salieri's blissful memory of being further awed by the childish musical prodigy when he examined Mozart's sheet music for Serenade for Thirteen Wind Instruments and was amazed by its genius: ("On the page, it looked nothing! The beginning, simple, almost comic. Just a pulse. Bassoons, basset horns - like a rusty squeezebox. And then, suddenly, high above it, an oboe. A single note, hanging there, unwavering. Until a clarinet took it over, sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! This was no composition by a performing monkey! This was a music I had never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing. It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God")
  • another flashback when Salieri jealously reacted to original samples of profligate Mozart's work, brought to him in secret by Mozart's Frau Constanze, so that he could be considered for a royal appointment: "These were first and only drafts of music. But they showed no corrections of any kind. Not one. He had simply written down music already finished in his head! Page after page of it, as if he were just taking dictation! And music, finished as no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall. It was clear to me that sound I had heard in the Archbishop's palace had been no accident. Here again was the very voice of God! I was staring through the cage of those meticulous ink-strokes at an absolute beauty"
  • Mozart's sudden transformation from boor to artistic genius at the piano (he later stated: "I am a vulgar man, but I assure you, my music is not")
  • Mozart's constant embarrassment of Salieri (i.e., improving a 'Welcome March' that Salieri had composed for the Emperor, literally farting in Salieri's face to humiliate him during a masquerade ball, promiscuously seducing Salieri's object of lust - his music student and soprano opera singer Caterina Cavalieri (Christine Ebersole), etc.)
  • Salieri's bitter rejection of God as he growled sarcastically: "Graci, maestro" to a crucifix -- out of jealousy at Mozart (because God had given a "creature" such talent and left him only as a self-proclaimed "mediocrity"), and his plan to sabotage Mozart by discrediting him (in a conspiracy with other courtiers to sway tone-deaf Emperor Joseph II (Jeffrey Jones), known for his frequent utterance: "Well, there it is!")
  • the character of Mozart's somber, critical father Leopold (Roy Dotrice) - and his stranglehold on Mozart's emotions and sanity even after his sudden death (inspiring Mozart to compose Don Giovanni)
  • Salieri's appropriation of Leopold's identity (appearing to Mozart at his door, with a chilling black, frowning mask that Leopold had worn during a costume party)
  • Mozart's lingering death in bed of liver disease while Salieri took down musical dictation as Mozart composed his final Requiem Mass
Mozart's Death
Salieri's Black Mask
Mozart's Death
Mozart's Pauper's Coffin and Gravesite
  • Mozart's unceremonious corpse-dumping in a mass pauper's grave
  • the final, downbeat ending in which a half-insane Salieri proclaimed himself as the King of Mediocrities and "absolved" his fellow asylum patients as he was wheeled down an asylum's corridor in a wheelchair: ("Mediocrities everywhere... I absolve you... I absolve you... I absolve you... I absolve you... I absolve you all...!")

Flashback of Envious Antonio Salieri Looking at and Describing Mozart's Sheet Music for Serenade for Thirteen Wind Instruments

Mozart Playing For Emperor Joseph II of Austria

Jealous Reaction to Mozart's Original First and Only Drafts

Salieri: "Mediocrities"


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