It took me a long time before I allowed myself to watch Amadeus. In fact, I’m not even sure why I finally did. I have an aversion to costume dramas. It’s not like I’d seen all the many before, so I might not have any real reason to dislike them, but just the sight of renaissance clothing makes me turn away. At least that’s the way I used to think. So, maybe it was the fact that the film won Best Picture in 1984 that turned me around, but after seeing the film it stands toe-to-toe with my other favorite costume drama, Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. However, things might have been different if it weren’t for this amazing scene.
Amadeus tells the story of the relationship between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) and Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham). The film is told from Salieri’s perspective, a fellow composer so dedicated to the craft, he can’t help but ask God why he’s not the best. Mozart is young, rude and a party-hard fool. What makes matters worse for Salieri is the fact that Mozart doesn’t even need to try. He’s just a genius and that’s the way it is. Like Will Hunting and math. Because of this Salieri views Mozart as his livelong enemy and rival.
This scene is toward the end of the film, but I don’t think you can deduce too much spoiler material from within. Mozart is sick and bedridden. He’s been commissioned to write a requiem mass for a large sum of money and Salieri (up to no good) offers to assist Mozart in transcribing the music Mozart dictates. This scene is beautiful for the music contained within, but also for its depiction of how the mind of a genius works, with little to no effort. Director Milos Forman developed the idea of playing parts of the dictated music on the soundtrack as it was being transcribed and the effect is glorious.