One of the greatest depictions of artistic rivalry ever conjured (and one based on real-life events, too!), Amadeus chronicles the plight of Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham, who won the Best Actor Oscar for his terrific performance), a so-so music composer locked in a maddening (and mostly self-inflicted) competition, both creatively and emotionally, with the brilliant impudent upstart known as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), a man who makes musical genius look easy. Not one to be one-upped by a kid, Salieri dons a disguise and plots revenge, obsessed with “muffling Mozart’s maddening laughter,” to quote Netflix’s own can’t-top-it description. Director Milos Forman, who would go on to tell the cinematic stories of other young creative geniuses such as Andy Kaufman and Larry Flynt, is at the top of his game here, conducting a truly operatic melodrama as moving and striking as anything Mozart himself ever composed; the Oscar-winning screenplay was adapted by Peter Shaffer from his own 1979 stage play, which itself was inspired by Alexander Pushkin’s 1830 short play, Mozart and Salieri. For the record, Netflix has the R-rated alternate version released in 2002, which runs 20 minutes longer than the PG-rated 1984 theatrical cut; the only real noticeable difference is now the movie has naked people in it.
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