Director: Milos Forman
Screenplay: Peter Schaffer based on his stage play.
It's rather easy to look back and see the flaws in "Amadeus". The strange combinations of the more modern spoken language juxtaposed with setting and locations of late 17th & early 18th Century Vienna, as well as the fact that it's an English spoken film, with American actors, and much of the discussion of the film, revolving around what language should be appropriate for operas. On this level, the film is unlike any other period piece I can think of. Something's are so exaggerated, like the punk-like wigs that Mozart (Oscar-nominee Tom Hulce) obsesses over, with accents of pink or the ever slightest hint of a mohawk, it almost borders on parody, how the vast extravagant rooms of the Emperor's palace, can seem so empty from the right angles. In fact, it is farce really, the comic asides of Mozart being stopped at by the palace guards before entering the Emperor's (Jeffrey Jones) music room, where he's playing Salieri's (Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham) concerto he wrote for Mozart, which he masters by ear, with one listen, and then improves upon drastically, within seconds of playing it, 'cause he's Mozart after all, something Salieri will just, never get over.
"Amadeus" is beloved, especially by film people. It won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and it was credited with many for bringing back a resurgence of the popularity of classical music. (Although I would say classical music has always been popular in general.) Based on Peter Schaffer's play, I think there's two ultimate reasons for why "Amadeus" remains popular. One is that, it really showed the essence of rock'n'roll in the era and times of Mozart. Milos Forman purposefully chose some lesser-known actors for the majority of the parts. Tom Hulce had played Pinto in "National Lampoon's Animal House" before playing the greatest musical prodigy of all-time, and he didn't exactly have too many other credits to his name either. Mozart was the biggest musician of his time, and just because he didn't have an electric guitar available to him, didn't mean that he wasn't a party animal, a drunk, a sex fiend, or any of the other cliches of musicians; he was all that and more than that, he was unbelievably talented, he just had the limits and tools of the musical instruments of the time. That's the second and more important part of "Amadeus", it shows just how artists, and in particular, great artists work, especially when compared to some who aren't as talented.
Salieri's last two acts towards Mozart, represent this two-sided nature of his emotional struggle, first to show up, disguised with the infamous mask Mozart uses in Don Giovanni, to request a Requiem Mass, the infamous one that Mozart never finished, and a sickly Salieri, trying desperately to peel out the Requiem out of Mozart on his deathbed. He had hoped that he would finish it originally, so that he could pull it out after he killed him, in a crazy scheme, even he must've known wasn't gonna completely work. Still, few movies truly get to the core of the process of the artist as well as "Amadeus". It's based on a Peter Schaffer play that most people once thought was unfilmable, but Milos Forman and producer Saul Zaentz, who had teamed together for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" earlier came together to help Schaffer adapt the work, and the real key to the film is Salieri, 'cause,- when you think about other musical biopics, uh, especially the ones of great artists, they're really just, well, the great artists; you watch something like "Don't Look Back" and you see Bob Dylan, typing his lyrics, kinda behaving rather insipid towards most everybody else; you don't see the genius, it's just natural to him, but it's through this prism of somebody who's talented, but not a natural, not a genius, not a prodigy at the craft, and the differences between the two and what they're actually capable of, that's the sort of thing, that we don't see portrayed well much at all.