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AMADEUS ($25) is a remarkable piece of film entertainment that introduced new generations to one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time. Based upon the play by Peter Shaffer, AMADEUS is 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 two centuries.

Peter Shaffer ‘s screenplay is lively and filled with ironic humor, while Milos Forman’s inspired direction keeps the film from slowing down, despite its near three hour running time. Both men’s Academy Awards are richly deserved, as is the film’s Oscar for Best Picture. AMADEUS also took home Oscars for art direction, costume design, makeup and sound. F. Murray Abraham earned himself an Academy Award for his performance as Antonio Salieri, the Austrian court composer, whose jealousy of Mozart’s God given talent drives him to systematically ruin the musical genius, thus sending him to an early grave. Tom Hulce earned 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 and Jeffrey Jones.

Warner Home Video has beautifully transferred AMADEUS to DVD and for that they deserve high praise. However, I found myself somewhat disappointed by the fact that the film is spread to two sides, instead of using the dual layer capabilities of the DVD format for uninterrupted playback. AMADEUS is offered wide screen only, framing the film close to its 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio. The Letterbox presentation features the 16:9 anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. Color reproduction on the DVD is glorious, offering good saturation that serves to complement the sharp and well-defined image. Digital compression artifacts were never a consideration on this DVD.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is a marvel. Mozart’s music sounds phenomenal on this well mixed track, as does the music of Salieri, which is also featured. The beautiful music orchestrated by Sir Neville Marriner only serves to enhance this wonderful motion picture experience. Other soundtrack options include a Dolby Surround compatible track, plus the film’s musical score on an isolated track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish. The interactive menus offer access to a theatrical trailer, extensive production notes, plus cast and crew biographies/filmographies.

AMADEUS is a great looking and sounding DVD, which deserves to be added to most personal DVD libraries. Despite my slight reservations about the two-sided presentation, this Academy Award winning Best Picture is tremendous film entertainment and should be considered a must have. Recommended.


Amadeus (Director's Cut) (1984)


DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 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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