“That was God laughing at me through that obscene giggle.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
I think Peary largely misses the mark in his overly harsh review. If the characters here don’t “vary”, it’s because they’re coherent protagonists in a compelling narrative (consisting of much more than simply “four basic scenes”) which shows the doomed trajectory of a brilliant but insolvent genius (Mozart) — and the lifelong regrets of the man (Salieri) who most fully recognizes Mozart’s gifts while simultaneously cursing God for giving them to such a “shockingly vulgar” young man. The actors’ American accents aren’t distracting, given they’re uniform across the production, and the occasional anachronisms can easily be forgiven if viewing this as a passionate tale of jealousy and revenge rather than a faithful historical biopic (which it’s not; it’s largely fictional). The flashback structure — in which aging Salieri, who has just attempted suicide, explains his “sins” to a priest — works well as a framing device for depicting an aging man coming to terms with his own inadequacies and failings:
… but most importantly, we deeply understand the reverence both Salieri and Mozart held for music — and how challenging it was for each of them (in different ways) to rely on the charity of patrons to survive. Berridge is nicely cast as Mozart’s wife — one can see both why she’s chosen him as her partner, and how he causes her so much consternation.
Meanwhile, the music throughout is — naturally — top-notch; conductor Neville Marriner only agreed to participate in the film if not a single note of Mozart’s music was changed.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)