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Superlative and Very Different
on 19 October 2002
"Amadeus", was a great success on stage prior to becoming a film that garnered 8 Academy Awards, together with dozens of other international honors. This director's cut version of the film not only adds 20 minutes to bring this exceptional film to 3 hours, it also has created a spectacular new digital transfer, and most interestingly a new film.
Many special editions and director's cut offerings are little more than the addition of scenes that were dumped prior to the film's original release, and rarely have any fundamental impact on the story that is told. Fully one third of all the chapters in this film have new footage, and the changes have a very real impact on the film. Most of the new exposition is about Salieri and it makes him a much darker character, this Salieri is much more than a jealous admirer of Mozart. This man makes demands of persons and actively intervenes much more in the professional destruction of Mozart in Vienna.
One of the film's mysteries for me was why Mozart's wife held such hatred for Salieri at the close of the film. This question is answered, and it again makes for a major change in how you will view Constanze. And of course more insight is given to Mozart as well. If you are a devotee of the original film you may have trouble warming to this version, you may even be well advised to avoid it. For once you see this film you will never be able to watch the shorter version and confine your thoughts to what they were prior to seeing the additional 20 minutes of film.
There is a second disc that includes extended interviews with Milos Forman, Peter Shaffer, and many of the main characters. An interesting aspect that is shared is that this entire film was shot behind the Iron Curtain of the USSR when it was still the nemesis of The United States. The difficulties in filming in Prague were countless, and even fascinating, as the director, Milos Forman was returning to his homeland as a self-described traitor who had previously left.
I have always felt, "Amadeus", is one of the finest films ever produced, and at first I did not care for some of the additional expository material. Now that I have seen it and thought about it a bit, this version really is the complete film, and even if I were to watch the original, I believe I would enjoy it as much, or possibly even more.