7/25/14: Amadeus (9/19/14)


Amadeus

Some of you know how much I love Jerry Garcia. On 4/23/77, [reverently] “he came…to the Springfield Civic Center. That night…changed my life. I was quite immobile – in a sling with my left arm badly broken & my left shoulder shattered. Everyone else was dancing wildly. On the stage, he looked like nothing, wearing a black t-shirt & brown corduroys. The lights…were simple, almost comic: Like a rusty squeezebox. When the music started, it was just a pulse – bass & rhythm section. Then suddenly – high above it – lead guitar, a single note, hanging there unwavering, until Jerry’s vocals took over & sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! This was no performance by an aging hippie! This was a music I’d never heard; filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing, it made me tremble. It seemed to me that I was hearing the very voice of God.” And I went on “searching for the sound”, seeing shows by the Grateful Dead and the Jerry Band whenever possible; a total of [slowly] 115 more times; the last on 6/25/95 – RFK Stadium. Then, on 8/9/95, “that fateful day”: “The day…the music…died!” It all ended. Cindy called me at The Hartford and told me to sit down. She said, “Jerry died!”. My response was, “Jerry who?” And then it hit me. It’s impossible to describe how traumatic it was! “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror & were silenced.” Our connection was so close though I never met this genius that I felt certain in the days to come that it was my fault. I was not trying to be my best & this was my punishment. “Alas, poor Jerry, I knew him, Horatio!” “Jerryyyyy! Jerry, I confess, I killed you! Forgive me, Jerry!”

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Music is like no other art form. For those of us of a certain mentality, it can drive you crazy. And that’s one of the themes Miloš Forman explores in Amadeus. F. Murray Abraham is composer Antonio Salieri in an insane asylum in 1823 telling Father Vogler (Richard Frank) the story of his relationship with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), that began more than 40 years earlier. He’s was put in the asylum relatively recently because he blames himself for Mozart’s death and, as a result, tried to commit suicide. Salieri is simultaneously obsessively jealous of & sycophantically in awe of Wolfgang & his music. Hulce was nominated for Best Actor in 1985 at the 57th Academy Awards; Abraham took home the Oscar. 2 more great performances: Elizabeth Berridge as Stanze, Mozart’s wife; and Jeffrey Jones as Emperor Joseph.

 

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Amadeus was nominated for 9 additional Oscars, winning 7 of them, including Best Director and Picture. Best Picture was presented by a 77 year old Sir Laurence Olivier who, beginning to show signs of dementia, opened the envelope & read the winner but not the nominees. Although music crucial to the picture, it was not nominated for Best Song or Original Score. Because, of course, the score – the music which accompanies the action & sets the mood for the film, or in this case drives the action & mood – is not original; much of it is Mozart; a bit Salieri. Amadeus’ soundtrack is fantastic. A film’s soundtrack differs from its score in that the soundtrack is a product that accompanies the film for independent or packaged sale, consisting of some or all of its music. These days, soundtracks are sold on CD. The first soundtrack was a package of 78 RPM records of the music of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. All but 2 tracks of Amadeus’ 2 CD Soundtrack LP are Mozart. So watch the trailer below then add the movie to your Netflix Queue.  4 Stars! “Well, there it is.” http://www.hark.com/clips/jfkwbnrbhh-laughing

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