Heisting Amadeus

Borrowing a Blu Ray in the Digital Age


Written by Robert D. Patrick

Sinking like a downed merchant marine vessel into a sea of pillowy cushions, I must look, from a faraway glance, like a disheveled mop head. It’s been years since I’ve seen Milos Forman’s Amadeus, and what I remember most is the tickling, mad hatter laugh of an ebullient Tom Hulce. Marching, lilting, shining those incisors with abandon like a naïve child in a ball pit. The zany embodiment of Mozart would net a Academy Award nomination for the geeked out, carbonated Hulce in something that was anything but a muted performance. And now I’m about to watch the film again. This time on a herculean television as a cat waltzes over my collarbone.

But before my religious reintroduction to the 1984 classic:

“Can I borrow Amadeus?” I ask my friend, Tom, with a sort of melodic hopefulness that I’m all but positive he felt immune toward. “Sure,” he relents, defeated by my fumbling paws that clumsily patter around his shelf of movies before he can say yes. I have to see this, restored, on blu-ray. The definitive cut, with buoyant notes ebbing against the walls of giant, domed, acoustic theaters. F. Murray Abraham’s portrayal of a wilted, emotionally eviscerated musician, whose love for the arts is tenderized by Mozart’s manic, bubbly and otherworldly talents.

Tom doesn’t care for my windmill mannerisms of excitement and touches my shoulder to calm me down, much like a coach making a mound visit.

Back to the present.

The director’s cut is now three hours long. Twenty-minutes are tossed back into the belly of the ship, like ballast in reverse motion. Forman’s magnum opus, a cornucopia of costumes and music, tumble out with wild, unbridled joy. Much like Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now redux, the additional footage includes superfluous amounts of boobs.

Yes, the academic nature of boobs on director cuts.

While watching Forman’s bouquet of exotic colors, there is no chance in hell that you cant, all of these years later, abscond from the curious sadism of Salieri’s barbed, quixotic mind. And while Hulce’s flippant, sonic, genius Mozart gleefully howls and perversely crawls on all fours like a salacious Neanderthal, the grim, fanged jealousy of F. Murray Abraham’s Salieri is what fastens Forman’s film to our memories.

My favorite scene, one where Mozart dons a traditional powdered wig that is pickled in a very atypical soft pink hue, is something indicative of the 1980s, the era in which the movie was made. That pink wig was a transcendent neon touchstone of an egocentric decade that coddled excessive abandon. Forman knew where to put his fingerprints.

Still, after the credits have rolled and the bombastic orchestra has tamed itself from a roaring thunder to a faint mew, there is no doubt that Amadeus couldn’t have been made in any other decade, with any other actors.

I also forgot to give Tom the blu-ray back.

Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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