Amadeus Movie Poster Image

Amadeus

(i)

 

Lavish, award-winning film with mature themes.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1984
  • Running Time: 158 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The importance of perseverance and being dedicated to working hard at musical composition is shown in both Mozart and Salieri, perhaps the only trait the two men have in common. 

Positive role models

Despite his portrayal as a bon vivant given to vice, Mozart also is shown to be always working, and his wife makes reference to this. 

Violence

The main character attempts suicide by slashing his wrists; blood is visible. A man chokes to death on food. Disturbing images of mentally ill men kept chained and naked in a sanitarium.

Sex

Mozart enjoys romps with his wife -- some kissing and groping shown. A naked backside and partial breasts shown. Implied sexual liaisons between Mozart and the star of one of his operas. Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro is set in a brothel, which provokes strong objections from the king as well as other composers. Male nudity in a sanitarium. 

Language

Mozart has his wife-to-be translate when he says backwards phrases such as "eat my s--t" and "kiss my ass." Words such as "damn," "hell," and "s--twit" also are used. 

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking, sometimes to excess. Mozart is frequently shown to be drunk, working or running around town with a bottle of wine close at hand. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Amadeus is a 1984 movie based on a play. The film includes an attempted suicide, disturbing images of mentally ill men kept chained and naked in a sanitarium, and some sexual hanky-panky, but there's little else of concern for teenage viewers. Mozart has his wife-to-be translate when he says backward phrases such as "eat my s--t" and "kiss my ass." Words like "damn," "hell," and "s--twit" also are used. Mozart is frequently shown to be drunk, working or running around town with a bottle of wine close at hand. Parents also should know that there's no real evidence to back up this movie's plot.

What's the story?

At the start of AMADEUS, the aged Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) has just attempted suicide in an asylum and wants to confess his mortal sins to a tremulous young priest. Three decades previously, Salieri held an exalted position as the state composer in the Austrian Imperial palace of the 1700s. Into the royal court comes a potential rival in the form of music prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), whose lively melodies, tossed off effortlessly by the 26-year-old, are far superior to Salieri's. But what really gets the older man seething is Mozart's mannerisms; he's a grinning goof with a high-pitched giggle and an adolescent's social skills, and he playfully mocks Salieri's stiff demeanor and formal, uninspired style of musicianship. Salieri embarks on an elaborate campaign to destroy a man-child on whom he believes God has unfairly bestowed creative genius.

Mozart has plenty of weak points. He gambles away his money and carouses with the Viennese nightlife, then works feverishly on operas and symphonies to support his small household. Salieri's insinuations keep Mozart from enjoying a comfortable salary from the Emperor, and he discovers another way to mess with Mozart's head through the composer's troubled relationship with a demanding, disapproving father. All the while Salieri pretends to be Mozart's truest friend, and he's tremendously moved by Mozart's artistic output, even as he ensures his ailing victim won't live past his early 30s.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Czech-born director Milos Foreman draws viewers in by having his largely American cast speak with their own voices in plain English rather than performing in out-of-tune accents and dialects. While the real Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was not the scruffy and impish type depicted here -- and there's no real evidence his jealous rival Salieri engaged in a conspiracy to murder him -- Amadeus does rock as a morality drama using these real-life figures and their music in an ornate, if lengthy, tale of envy, talent, and wicked manipulation. Some music scholars wince at the distorted images of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and lesser-known composer Antonio Salieri perpetuated by this multiple Oscar winner (and the Peter Shaffer play that inspired it).

One of the movie's strongest images is an ominous Dr. Doom-masked figure (an agent of Salieri) pushing Mozart over the edge by hiring the struggling composer to write a funeral requiem. It really did happen, but this culprit was actually a notorious fraud who regularly commissioned pieces from down-on-their-luck composers, then passed the work off as his own. And, though Salieri's jealousy of Mozart is well-documented, there's no evidence he deliberately drove the upstart to an untimely grave.

Families can talk about...

  • Parents can talk about how historical movies like Amadeus and TV shows can distort the truth. What sources do you use to learn about history? When do you question the accuracy of a historical tale?

  • Are there any role models in this story?

  • What comments do you think this movie is making about the meaning of genius, of mediocrity, and of the role of the artist in society and whether talent is innate, developed through hard work, or a combination of the two? 

  • Though the movie clearly attempts to show Mozart as the "rock star" of his time, it could inspire discussion about why some artists choose to abuse drugs and alcohol.

  • How do the characters in Amadeus demonstrate perseverance? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 19, 1984
DVD/Streaming release date:September 24, 2002
Cast:Elizabeth Berridge, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce
Director:Milos Forman
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Drama
Topics:Arts and dance, History, Music and sing-along
Character strengths:Perseverance
Run time:158 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:brief nudity

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bysteven009 December 9, 2010
There is more than just "a naked backside". There is a scene when Mozart's wife goes to sleep with Salieri so he will let Mozart teach lessons to someone. It shows her stripping and makes no effort to hide her completely bare torso. I didn't finish the movie, so I don't know what else there is, but it is certainly worse than "Sex: Mozart enjoys romps with his wife. A naked backside."
What other families should know
Too much sex
Parent of a 10 and 12 year old Written bynaturelovers October 8, 2011

perfect movie - kids won't appreciate

The acting is superb, the music heavenly and I don't really care it's not true to history. Most historic accounts aren't... It gets us to listen to beautiful music and appreciate his genius! This is one of my most favorite movies! In America only for kids over 16 because of the puritan fear of nudity!
Teen, 15 years old Written byanimalloverkt April 9, 2008

I was hooked!

AMADEUS is a wonderfully written movie full of intrigue, plot twists, and classical music. (What more could one want?) This movie is told in first person...from the viewpoint of Antonio Salieri, the badguy, also Mozart's rival. Rather, Mozart was Salieri's rival. There are some weak spots, however. There is social drinking, hypocrisy by Salieri at many points, Mozart's running around with various women, and his outright disrespect for Salieri and others. For example, Salieri is in love with an up and coming soprano. It is mentioned in front of the company, which includes Mozart, Salieri, and Salieri's crush, if you will. It is mentioned that Mozart is engaged to another girl. Salieri's crush hits Mozart over the head with her fan, and storms off. Salieri concludes that he had been messing with her, and henceforth begins his obsession with killing Mozart. But Mozart's talent was not to be denied, and he quickly gained favor with the Emperor, which threatens Salieri's high ranking job as the Court Composer. This further motivates him to kill Mozart. He comes up with a plan to steal a funeral mass written by Mozart and play it at his funeral as his own [Salieri's own work]. Mozart dies, and the funeral mass is unfinished. Salieri claims guilt, but his obsession leaves the question of whether he pleased with his devilish deed.

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