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Amadeus (1984)

By Adele Marley | Posted

From his spiky assortment of bow-tie mullets to a teased 'do that looks like a puff of pink cotton candy, Tom Hulce's Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart sports an outrageous assortment of powdered wigs in this period costume drama. And it's not just flashy costume design--director Milos Forman wanted to liken the artistically rebellious composer to the assortment of sneering, high-haired scenesters who were just starting to make waves on MTV when this adaptation of Peter Shaffer's Tony-winning play hit the screen back in 1984. A winner of eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Amadeus contrasts id-driven musical savant and goofball colossus Mozart with his bitter, repressed, envious rival, Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham, who deservedly copped one of those statuettes), the unspectacular court composer for Hapsburg Emperor Joseph II (Jeffrey Jones). The story is told in flashback as an aged Salieri confesses his tale of obsessive jealousy and vengeance to a priest. Questioning the motives of a God who would bestow such transcendental talent on a profane, party-hearty bad boy, the mediocre composer is driven to ruin Mozart financially and crush his spirit, if only to spite the deity for passing him over. Epic in execution but hauntingly human in scale, Amadeus is hilarious, heartbreaking--and, thankfully, historically inaccurate. (Adele Marley)

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