Lavish, award-winning film with mature themes.
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  • Review Date: February 24, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1984
  • Running Time: 158 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The importance of 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. 


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.


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. 


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. 

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?

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?


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.

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Parents can talk about how historical movies 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.

Movie details

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

This review of Amadeus was written by

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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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, 14 years old Written bysuper mello January 11, 2009

great movie

this is a great movie for musicians to watch, but my non musician friends really enjoyed it too. it was really an interesting perspective, and even though its a ficticious story, there were some really interesting bits of truth.


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