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USA 1984
Directed by
Milos Forman
159 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4.5 stars


This fine biopic of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart takes a very unconventional approach to the story of the composer's life thanks to the film's star, Tom Hulce who plays Mozart like an over-grown adolescent with a silly laugh performance (Hulce based his performance in part on the antics of tennis super-brat, John McEnroe) . Whilst this will not be to everyone’s taste, the film, which won 8 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, a double whammy that Forman had already snaffled in 1975 with One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, is nevertheless a triumph for all concerned with a fine counter-balancing performance by F. Murray Abraham as the sinister Salieri (Abraham, a relative unknown, won the Actor Oscar for which Hulce was also nominated), a strong Peter Schaffer script from his own play, superb production design, not to mention Forman's typically fine direction and, of course, Mozart’s music.

Filmed in Prague, capital of Forman's home country, Czechoslovakia, the film never looks less than convincing and its off-beat approach actually works in its favour, giving it a vitality that a more conventionally reverential approach probably would not have had. Hulce, whose only prior screen appearance of note was Animal House (1978) never come so close again to stardom since nor did Elizabeth Berridge, who played his young wife, Constanze.

FYI: There was a director's cut released in 2002 although it did not really do more than add 20 minutes to the running time. 




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