photo manipulation by nacrowe
MILOS FORMAN's masterful film AMADEUS (ORION PICTURES, 1984) follows the life and career of childlike musical prodigy WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART from the envious perspective of his "rival," 18th century VENITIAN composer ANTONIO SALIERI. despite the fact that this rivalry is up for serious dispute by historians, in this film it functions as a useful tool in examining the nature of genius.
when confronted with those whose natural gifts for surpass our own, we often superimpose on these people an aura of power and supremacy. i know i am that way whenever i visit a clinic or step on an airplane. to me physicians and pilots are superhuman, when in reality i know that these are just talented people with lots of training and hard work to hone their respective crafts. but what if they didn't necessarily work for their position. what if it was just innate and furthermore, what if they acted immature about their stature.
to me this is the crux of AMADEUS. MOZART is depicted as a spoiled, lustful, immature, self-absorbed twit who also happens to me a musical prodigy of the first order. in SALIERI we see a composer that used his limited ability and gifts to rise up the ranks via sheer willpower and attention to his craft over years of diligent training and self-examination. he is the embodiment of the puritan ethic and yet he is outshined by this impetuous imp.
anyone entering this film has a cursory knowledge of the work of MOZART and his legacy as a seminal pillar in the western cultural tradition and very likely unfamiliar with a minor historical footnote like SALIERI, yet the film confronts us to have conflicting emotions about the two and who has value.
despite its supposed historical inaccuracies, for me this film is an incredible examination of the nature of genius and the cult of adoration that follows. obviously genius isn't bestowed on those that deserve it, but each time i look past the unfortunate aspects of people that i admire, whether that be MORRISSEY, MILES DAVIS, JAMES BROWN, MARTIN LUTHER KING JR or even CHUCK BERRY, i consider this film and how it illustrates that at the end of the day these are still just people.