Filmsite Movie Review
Amadeus (1984)
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The Story (continued)

Mozart's Competing Work Demands: the Requiem Mass (for Salieri) and The Magic Flute (for Schikaneder):

The often-drunk and impoverished Mozart began to laboriously and feverishly work long hours on his Requiem Mass for the mysterious masked gentleman. With music ringing in his head, he didn't hear vigorous knocking at his door one night, and then feared to answer it - believing it was the demanding black-caped benefactor. However, it was Schikaneder who wanted to know about the progress on his play. After seeing musical manuscripts in Mozart's work-room, he picked up a page and asked: "What's this? A requiem mass? You think I'm in the funeral business?" Mozart emerged from another room and struggled for the page. And then, the half-demented Mozart was forced to admit that he hadn't even begun composing Schikaneder's 'vaudeville' play that was due to start rehearsals the following week. He said that the entire score was still in his head:

...there's nothing to see. (giggle)... It's all right here in my noodle. The rest is just scribbling. Scribbling and bibbling. Bibbling and scribbling.

Schikaneder grabbed Mozart's collar and yelled at him, while Constanze defended him: "Leave him alone!...He's doing his best...You know what's ridiculous? Your libretto, that's what's ridiculous. Only an idiot would ask Wolfi to work on that stuff. 12-foot snakes, magic flutes!" [Note: The work for Schikaneder would become The Magic Flute.] She asserted that the Requiem Mass was a priority, because of the "money." Schikaneder ended the conversation:

She's mad, Wolfi....Wolfi, write it down. Just write it down. On paper. It's no use to anybody in your head. To hell with your Death Mass.

The agitated and frightened spy-maidservant Lorl complained to Salieri about the living conditions among the Mozarts: "I'm not working there anymore...You don't know what it's like. Herr Mozart frightens me. He drinks all day, then takes all that medicine and it makes him worse....When he speaks, he doesn't make any sense." She explained Mozart's work habits: "He sits there all the time, doing some silly opera." Salieri appeared shocked, as The Overture to The Magic Flute began to play - she told him that she refused to go back.

In the middle of the night in his apartment, Mozart (carrying candles) entered their bedroom where Constanze was sleeping. He quietly kissed their two year-old son and then retreated. He stared at his father's portrait and then giggled, dancing wildly and acting silly and crazy, until he heard knocking at the door. Before him stood the black-masked stranger, and Mozart blurted out: "I don't have it yet...I promise you. I'll give you a wonderful piece - the best I ever can!" Constanze ("Stanzi") appeared next to Mozart - and was introduced - and she reinforced Mozart's claim that he wasn't ill: "He's all right. And he's working on it very hard." Mozart was granted two more weeks to work on the Requiem Mass. But afterwards, Stanzi feared the worst about Mozart's mental condition - and his neglect of work on the mass:

Constanze: I think you really are going mad. You work like a slave for that idiot actor [Schikaneder] who won't give you a penny. And here. This is not a ghost! This is a real man who puts down real money. Why on earth won't you finish it? Can you give me one reason I can understand?
Mozart: It's killing me.

She accused him of excessive drinking as she cried: ("All you can do is drink and talk nonsense, and frighten me"). He abruptly ordered her back to bed, as she begged: "Let me stay here with you."

Constanze's Split From Mozart:

After she fell asleep in a chair near him, he tiptoed from the house with an overcoat covering his nightdress. In the next scene, Mozart was drunkenly partying with Schikaneder in his wooden summer house with a group of actresses. By dawn as he staggered back home in the cold snowy atmosphere, he entered his apartment and discovered that Constanze (with her son) had deserted him. The bedroom and its closet were emptied of her belongings. In his mother-in-law's house, Mozart was lectured by shrew-like Frau Weber:

I did it and I was proud to do it. 'Leave,' I said! 'Right away! Clear out and take the child with you. Here's the money! Go to the Spa and get your health back.' I was shocked, shocked to my foundation when I saw her. I couldn't believe my eyes, poor little thing. Oh, you monster! No one exists but you, do they? You and your music! I warned her. 'Choose a man, not a baby,' I said. 'You marry him, you won't have a pot to piss in.' You selfish thing! Selfish - that's all you are. Selfish! Simply selfish, do you hear me?

Mozart's The Magic Flute - His Physical Collapse and Duping by Salieri:

The shrill condemnation by Constanze's vicious mother transitioned into (or inspired) a jump cut to the high-pitched notes sung in an aria by the lead female performer, the Queen of the Night (June Anderson), in the climactic second act of Mozart's finished work, The Magic Flute, with 35 year-old Mozart conducting. The debut of the opera ended with a flash of lightning and thunder. With resounding applause, the next part of the opera was conducted by Count Orsini-Rosenberg, while Mozart played a glockenspiel's keyboard with great flourish in the orchestra pit. However, exhausted and sick, Mozart soon collapsed unconscious to the floor, while the performance continued.

[Note: The Magic Flute was first performed in 1791 in Schikaneder's Theatre in Vienna, just two months before the composer's premature death.]

Salieri rushed to Mozart's side, and ordered the heavily-sweating, frail and limp body of Mozart to be carried to his outdoor carriage, for transport to Mozart's apartment and bedroom. There, Salieri inquired: "Where is your wife?" Mozart weakly responded: "She's not well either. She went to the spa." He then thanked Salieri for attending the opera: "You are the only colleague of mine who came." Salieri responded with false praise: "I would never miss anything that you had written...It's a sublime piece. The grandest operone," as Mozart downplayed his own work: "It's just a vaudeville." But then Salieri turned sincere: "I tell you, you are the greatest composer known to me."

Loud knocks at the door were interpreted by the terrified Mozart as from the 'masked' black-caped individual, and he instructed Salieri: "Tell him I'm still working on it. Don't let him in!", but then he requested that Salieri ask for more money to help finish his composition. At the door, however, was Schikaneder straight from the production and still in costume with other actresses - all concerned about Mozart's health. When assured that Mozart was only exhausted and dizzy, Schikaneder urged Salieri to give Mozart his "share" of the production's proceeds - a bag of coins ("That should cheer him up"). Salieri returned to the bedroom and poured out the coins for Mozart, implying falsely that the dark-masked benefactor at the door had urged immediate work on the mass to finish it. Conveniently, Salieri volunteered to assist:

Salieri: And if you finish the work by tomorrow night, he will pay you another hundred ducats.
Mozart: (astonished) That's too soon! Tomorrow night? It's impossible! Did he say a hundred?...It's too soon!
Salieri: Could I help you?
Mozart: Would you? Actually, you could.

At a dance held in Baden, Germany, Constanze frantically told a uniformed military officer of her urgent need to return to Vienna: ("I feel wrong being here").

Mozart's Death-Bed Work with Salieri on the Requiem Mass:

Late into the night, the feverishly-sweating Mozart was propped up in bed, lingering and stricken with liver disease (and probably acute rheumatic fever), while also suffering from exhaustion due to the demands of further composing. Nearby on a small table at the foot of the bed, Salieri transcribed the notes for Mozart's final work onto blank sheets of manuscript paper with a quill-pen as he listened to the musical dictation. During one conversation, Mozart asked if Salieri believed in eternal Hell-fires: "Do you believe in it?...A fire which never dies, burning you forever?" Salieri emphatically answered: "Yes." Salieri labored feverishly to keep up with the complex directions, as Mozart hurriedly proceeded through the notes of the various vocal lines for one movement - heard on the soundtrack.

Meanwhile, a horse-carriage was on its way to Vienna, carrying Constanze and young Karl - in a race against time. Upon their arrival in the morning, they walked down the cobble-stoned streets to their apartment. White and pasty-faced, Mozart asked Salieri: "Do you want to rest a bit?" Salieri was energized and wanted to continue, and would remain while Mozart rested. Sheepishly, Mozart admitted his shame: "I was foolish. I-I thought you did not care for my work - or me. Forgive me. Forgive me!" Shortly later, after Constanze's arrival, she found Mozart sleeping in the bedroom, with Salieri reclined nearby on Karl's smaller bed. Salieri haltingly explained his presence: "Your husband took sick. I brought him home....Because Madame, I was at hand." She thanked him, and then dismissed him, but Salieri objected: "He needs me, ma'am." She ordered more firmly: "No, he doesn't, and I don't want you here." Hearing Mozart stir on the bed, she forgot about Salieri and went to his side: "Wolfi, I'm back. I missed you so much - if you'd just show me that you need me. And I'll try to do better too."

Then, after noticing the new manuscripts strewn all over the bed, she gathered the papers together ("No, Wolfi, not this. Not this. You're not to work on this ever again! I've decided"). She then observed that the script was not in Mozart's hand-writing, and Salieri confirmed he had been assisting. Constanze ordered: "Well, he's not to work on this anymore. It's making him ill." She locked up the sheets of unfinished music manuscript in a cabinet and pocketed the key, as she told Salieri to leave ("Please respect my wish and go") - but it was already too late.

Mozart's Death, Funeral, and Burial:

During those last short moments, Mozart had already expired. At his bedside, Stanzi repeatedly cried out her pet name for him: "Wolfi!" - as Salieri also stood nearby - stunned by the thought of a deceased Mozart.

[Note: Mozart's quiet death in bed in 1791 was at the age of 35. Salieri's clever plan to benefit from Mozart's Requiem, to be falsely attributed to himself, failed miserably (although his objective to ruin Mozart had been perversely fulfilled). Mozart's sudden death and poorly-attended pauper's funeral did not include the playing of the Requiem or any recognition and profit for the out-witted Salieri.]

A sparse funeral-church service was held on a very rainy day in Vienna - mourners included Salieri, Caterina, Constanze and her son Karl, Madame Weber and her youngest daughter Sophie, Schikaneder, and even Lorl, the maid (the only one who openly cried). Mozart's corpse - placed into a plain, cheap dark wooden coffin and carried by four pallbearers, was taken by carriage to the outskirts of town to a common gravesite. All of the mourners stopped at the outer gate as the cart moved on to the cemetery. There a local priest crossed himself, as three gravediggers carried the coffin unceremoniously over to a communal, mass pauper's grave and tipped it, so that the canvas-wrapped body slid out of one end of the coffin. Mozart's corpse was anonymously dumped into an open dirt pit with other sacks of bodies, and was covered with two shovel-fuls of white lye.

The underlying music on the soundtrack during this segment was 'Lacrimosa' from Mozart's Requiem Mass - the choir sang (with translation):

Lacrimosa dies illa (That day is one of weeping)
Qua resurget ex favilla (on which shall rise again from the ashes)
Judicandus homo reus. (the guilty man, to be judged)
Huic ergo parce, Deus: (Therefore spare this one, O God)
Pie Jesu Domine: (merciful Lord Jesus:)
Dona eis requiem. Amen. (Give them rest. Amen.)

Salieri's Final Benediction:

This final flashback ended, and returned to the year 1823 (32 years after Mozart's death), where the aging royal composer Salieri, now insane and placed into an asylum, had just finished looking back at his complicity in Mozart's premature death, to Father Vogler's horror. Not humbled in any way, Salieri was instead angry at God, expressing his incensed frustration about life at the young visibly-emotional priest. Salieri pondered the irony of how a merciful God had spitefully and deliberately destroyed and killed Mozart ("his own beloved"), rather than giving his mediocre-talented servant any share of "the smallest part of his glory":

Your merciful God. He destroyed his own beloved rather than let a mediocrity share in the smallest part of his glory. He killed Mozart. And kept me alive to torture. 32 years of torture. 32 years of slowly watching myself become extinct! My music growing fainter. All the time fainter, till no one plays it at all. And his...

A cheerful hospital attendant (Brian Pettifer) entered the room - announcing: "Time for the water closet. Then we have your favorite breakfast for you. Sugar rolls. (To the Father) He loves those. Fresh sugar rolls." As the sweet-toothed Salieri was pushed out into the hallway corridor in his wheelchair, the half-insane inmate placed his hand on the Father's shoulder to assure him that he would offer the day's blessing - he had realized that he had been given a higher calling - he had been appointed the "champion" and "patron saint" of mediocrities by God:

I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint.

In the downbeat and triumphant ending, as Salieri was wheeled down the outer hallway, he stretched out his arms to 'absolve' his fellow, crazed and disturbed asylum patients of their madness (they lined his way - some chained or confined in pens) - with a final benediction:

Mediocrities everywhere. I absolve you. I absolve you. I absolve you. I absolve you. I absolve you all!

Mozart's high-pitched giggle-laugh was heard echoing (literally, 'the last laugh') as the screen went black.


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