The previous post, which obviously took a while to wrote and reflect on (hence my lack of Top 10/Skandies updates), was made as my commitment to an AMADEUS blogathon, led by my bud Bilge Ebiri, who also has a post linking to all the other posts in the Blogathon. The links I reproduce here (you can also obviously go to Bilge’s site too) as reciprocation and thanks to everyone else for participating.
Peter Labuza on Milos Forman’s use of music.
Matthew Wilder on AMADEUS as an 80s film.
Glenn Kenny on the literary origins of AMADEUS.
Paul Clark on his personal history with AMADEUS and Mozart.
Zach Ralston on Salieri’s musical talent — as a critic.
Andrew Welch applies Graham Greene’s theory of film to AMADEUS.*
Tim Grierson on audience identification in AMADEUS.
* Look for that theory tomorrow (I promise) when I wrote about #9
“For by grace you are saved … not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God. Not by works, so that no man may glory. For we are His workmanship.”
– St. Paul, Letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 2
When describing AMADEUS, Salieri is frequently described as an initially pious man who turns against God because He gave Salieri the gift of the love of music while giving the gift of music itself to Mozart, an impious clown. I myself used almost those exact words a couple of years ago when describing the effect seeing AMADEUS had on me in the late-80s. While it is obviously correct as a description of the general narrative trajectory, I used one word there that is significant. “Initially.” The central event is the tossing of a crucifix on the fire, and the whole back half of the film is about an explicitly-named plot against God.
Or so I thought.
When I looked at AMADEUS again a week ago for this blogathon, I had religious questions and issues in the front of my head because I had told Bilge in vague terms that I would write something about how the character of God is presented. This caused me to look more closely at the ways in which Salieri describes his piety, and to privilege mentions of religiously-fraught details. Viewed in that light, the film turned itself upside-down from how I had previously seen it. Never before had I seen how spiritually inevitable it was and how Salieri’s undoing was the result of his own vices, which he sees as virtues. AMADEUS is not the story of a pious man cruelly treated by a Tyrant-god given to cosmic jokes (though that IS how Salieri presents it). Rather, it is the story of an impiously proud man who tries to exercise Providence as if he himself were God.