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Movie Discussion: Amadeus

My wife, Jennifer, and I sat down and watched the film Sunday night and I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts. I’m going to throw out a few things that jumped out at me and from there the floor will be open. Feel free to jump in and join the conversation. Let’s try to keep the discussion away from technical critique and aimed more toward an examination of story, character, and theme. Here we go:

1. The Prodigal Son – It’s really easy to see the parallels between Mozart as the prodigal son of the parable and Salieri as the elder brother. The movie, however, isn’t interested in the the resolution of the biblical parable, but focuses instead on the elder brother’s progression from envy to hatred and self-destruction.

2. Historicity – Neither Mozart nor Salieri are portrayed favorably, nor even particularly accurately. From what I can tell, Mozart wasn’t the buffoon he was portrayed as, and Salieri wasn’t a mediocrity. I think there are a wealth of artistic reasons for doing this, but I do wonder at what point a writer crosses a line and becomes irresponsible in his depiction of history.

3. The Love of God – The meaning of the name “Amadeus” is “The Love of God.” So the film essentially depicts the way in which one man’s self-righteousness and envy result in him doing everything in his power to destroy the “love of God.”

4. The Fool Who Shames the Wise – I think there’s a deliberate statement being made by the way Mozart is depicted as a fool. He’s cast as a sort of court jester who, in classic Shakespearian form, is the foil to the pseudo-wisdom of kings and wisemen.

5. The Hunt for God – This is considered one of the major themes of Peter Shaffer’s work and Amadeus certainly explores this frontier. In the case of Amadeus, what do you think Shaffer discovers about the nature of God?


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