Why it’s famous:
Featuring a great number of Mozart’s most famous compositions, this eight-time Oscar winner brings together a brilliant cast, mind-blowing sets, and unparalleled costume design to tell the story of one of the world’s most beloved geniuses through the eyes of his bitter rival.
Salieri: You don’t mean to tell me that you’re living in poverty?
Mozart: No. But I’m broke.
Salieri: But they showed no corrections of any kind. Not one. He had simply written down music already finished in his head. Page after page of it as if he were just taking dictation. And music, finished as no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall.
Mozart: Forgive me, Majesty. I am a vulgar man. But I assure you my music is not.
Why you haven’t seen it:
Unless you are a die-hard lover of classical music, it simply may not have occurred to you to pick up a biographical piece on a famous composer. After all, you tell yourself that if you’re not keen on the works, why watch a three-hour biopic about their creator?
Why it might be tough to get through:
With a director’s cut that clocks in at 180 minutes, this movie is not exactly a thrill seeker’s paradise. The biggest obstacle to successfully finishing this one will probably end up being Salieri himself. As much compassion as you may have for the “patron saint of mediocrities,” his lengthy over-stylized monologues can get cringe-worthy after a while.
Why you should see it anyway:
As irritating as Salieri becomes, he is a character that most of us can identify with on some level. If you’ve ever loved doing something, but simply didn’t have the aptitude for it, you will understand the complexity of the character and his love-hate relationship with the genius that was born with a gift Salieri could never have. On top of that, the movie is strikingly beautiful, neatly set, and authentically costumed — that alone is worth the watch.
• After studying all of the musical keys struck on pianos throughout the film, several professors of music stated that not one key is struck incorrectly compared to what is heard at the exact same moment. In other words, what you see is exactly what you hear.
• Sets and costumes for the operatic productions were based on sketches of the original costumes and sets used when the operas premiered.