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Amadeus, 1984

This study will compare and contrast the life of eighteenth- century composer Amadeus Mozart with that of his rival Antonio Salieri, using the 1984 film Amadeus as the basis for the comparison. The historical accuracy of the film with respect to the two composers will be analyzed, as will be the theme of man in relation to God which the film addresses and which reflects on the questions and changes brought to society and thinking during the Enlightenment. The arguments of the study will be that (1) the film is fairly accurate, although it exaggerates and oversimplifies for dramatic purposes, and appears to take greatest license in the area which is central to the film--the relationship between Mozart and Salieri; (2) the relationships of both Mozart and Salieri to life, music and creativity shed much light on the questions raised by the Enlightenment with respect to the relationship between God and man, although at times that light is confusing and contradictory.

The genius Mozart and the frustrated Salieri, and their turbulent relationship are the centerpieces of the film, but the setting of Vienna itself at the hectic end of the eighteenth century is also a character. It is an era of great creative turbulence but one which nevertheless did not take easily to Mozart's brilliant compositions. The talented but conventional and limited Salieri, on the other hand, was favored by those with the power to elevate artists to heights of fame. The film delves into this struggle of Mozart's for recognition in an allegedly Enlightenment-oriented Viennese society, and in doing so is certainly not far from accurate. Mozart and his family were in "perpetual neediness" due to "absurdly low fees" for his teaching, the neglectful public who did not understand or appreciate his operas, the businessmen who cheated him. As for who was honored in Mozart's place: "Who was better fitted than Mozart to win the admiration" of the Viennese who "preferred S...

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Amadeus, 1984. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:20, December 06, 2021, from