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(Directorís Cut)

Twenty-five years after its release, AMADEUS ($36) remains a remarkable piece of film entertainment. The winner of eight Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture, AMADEUS reaches tremendous cinematic heights, while yet remaining totally accessible to those, who are not well-versed classical music. It is through this level of accessibility that AMADEUS was able to introduce new generations to one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time. Based upon the play by Peter Shaffer, which I had the good fortune of seeing during its original Broadway run, AMADEUS presents a fictionalized biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as told by a rival composer, who supposedly confesses to murdering Mozart, while confined to an insane asylum.

As a film, AMADEUS is an opulent costume drama, but it is anything but a dusty or boring look at a classical composer who has been dead for more than two centuries. Peter Shafferís screenplay is lively and filled with ironic humor, while Milos Formanís inspired direction keeps the film from slowing down, despite its three hour running time. Both menís Academy Awards are richly deserved, as is the filmís Oscar for Best Picture. AMADEUS also took home Oscars for art direction, costume design, makeup and sound. Even F. Murray Abraham earned himself an Academy Award for his performance as Antonio Salieri, the Austrian court composer, whose jealousy of Mozartís God given talent drives him to systematically ruin the musical genius, thus sending him to an early grave. Tom Hulce also received an Oscar nomination for his performance as the brilliant, but emotionally retarded Mozart. The outstanding cast of AMADEUS also features Elizabeth Berridge, Roy Dotrice, Christine Ebersole, Simon Callow, Richard Frank, Cynthia Nixon, Vincent Schiavelli and Jeffrey Jones.

Warner Home Video has made the Directorís Cut of AMADEUS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec.  Miroslav OndrŪcekís Oscar nominated cinematography is nicely rendered in this 1080p presentation. While the Blu-ray doesnít have the hyper-realistic qualities of new film, image sharpness, dimensionality and fine detail are all wonderful in comparison to everything that has come before. One will once again be able to appreciate Oscar winning sets and costumes, thanks to high definition. On Blu-ray, colors are richer, better defined and far more stable than they have appeared in the past. Blacks are pure, as are the whites. Contrast is smooth, plus the picture produces a nice level of shadow detail. The elements from which AMADEUS have been transferred appear relatively free from blemishes. Grain is milder than what I would have expected, and there are moments where the image gives the impression that it is a bit smoother than it should be, signifying that some digital manipulation has been employed.

AMADEUS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Considering the period setting, the sound design does not aggressively deploy for sound effects placement. Music is where the AMADEUS soundtrack excels sonically. As always, this has been a truly marvelous soundtrack that that has been further enhanced by its presentation in the lossless format. Sir Neville Marriner orchestrated Mozartís music to underscore the motion picture and it is indeed a glorious re-purposing of the works of a musical genius. Even Salieriís compositions sound wonderful on this release. The music swells and swirls beautifully through the entire soundstage, with excellent augmentation of the rear channels. As you might expect, fidelity is terrific. Dialogue reproduction is always crystal clear. English, French, Spanish, German and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese and Swedish.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the supplemental materials. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Milos Forman and writer Peter Shaffer. Next, is the other main supplement, The Making Of Amadeus, an hour-long program that looks at the production in significant detail. A Theatrical Trailer is also featured on the first disc. The second disc is a Special Compilation CD offering more Mozart. Finally, there is a third disc that contains a Digital Copy of the film. AMADEUS features book styled packaging that contains thirty-four pages of photos and production notes.

Considering that AMADEUS is now twenty-five years old, it there is no way to dispute the filmís classic status. For my money, AMADEUS is a marvel of a motion picture. The Blu-ray presentation is head and shoulders above everything that has come before. Recommended.



Amadeus (Blu-ray Book) [Blu-ray] (1984)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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