My favorite film, the top of my Top Ten of All Time, the one that made me realize I was going to have a career, a life, in cinema. I watched in a music appreciation class, maybe 6th or 7th grade. I knew very little, other than my dad laughing that Mozart Cuts A Loud Fart in it when I told him the title of the movie I was going to watch in class.
Never has a script, or a film as a whole, developed and used an abstract concept (music, or more specifically, Mozart’s music) as a character so effectively. Mozart’s music is the third player in the narrative: it drives one man to make increasingly poor choices and drives the other into such a jealousy that he enables and helps the former’s self-destructive nature.
Every element of the film works in tandem to elevate it to a high standard of polished film-making. The rich and powerful soundtrack is synchronized perfectly with the actors’ responses towards the diegetic music – a synchronization of picture and sound that portrays story and character. Tom Hulce flirts and buggers around the Prague/Czech locations in bright pastel wigs and kinckerbockers as naturally as if he’d been born in 18th century Vienna. F. Murray Abraham pouts and schemes in suits of a more subdued color palette. The Catholic background and struggle with God shadows Salierie visually with both sensible, boring costume and darker, fickle lighting.
The film was shot entirely in natural lighting. An artistic decision and shooting nightmare director Milos Forman stuck by to realistically showcase an era lit only by sun and candles.