Amadeus: The Director's Cut Amadeus: The Director's Cut
In 1781, court composer Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) is maddened with envy after discovering that the divine musical gifts he desires for himself have been bestowed on the lewd, mischievous Mozart (Tom Hulce), whom he plots to destroy by any means necessary. Salieri appreciates Mozart's miraculous compositions more than anyone while blaming God for his own musical shortcomings.
Winner of eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor (F. Murray Abraham), and Best Director (Milos Forman), Amadeus was a surprise hit in 1984, generating over $50 million in box office receiptsnot bad for a movie about a classical composer who had been dead for 200 years. Tom Hulce's portrayal of the juvenile genius elicits many laughs, but Abraham's cosmetically aged Salieri steals the show as the "patron saint of mediocrity."
Unfortunately, the rating has changed from PG to R due to some frontal nuditysomething that could have been avoided with seamless branching. I prefer the theatrical cut and found this version to drag with its three-hour length (the theatrical cut is 160 minutes). Also, some of the new scenes don't enhance the story.
The video quality is a remarkable improvement over the 1997 "flipper" version I've owned since its debut on DVD. The print is in fantastic shape, and the added resolution of the 1080p VC-1 encode shows off the remarkable set design and elaborate costumes (both Oscar winners). Color saturation is improved, the black levels are deep and inky, and most scenes offer rich detail. Occasionally, the resolution falters and appears soft, but this is by far the best it has looked on home video.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is an improvement over the lossy Dolby Digital found on the DVD. Dialog sounds more lifelike, and Mozart's music is more impactful. The original audio elements were recorded in stereo, and for the most part, the track stays true to its roots with a front-heavy presentation. Ambience is limited, but score bleed to the rear opens up the soundstage, placing the viewer in the middle of the concert hall.
The standard-definition bonus features include a commentary by director Milos Forman and writer Peter Shaffer. Additional supplements include an hour-long "making of" featurette from the 2002 DVD release, a theatrical trailer, a digital copy (Windows only), a bonus CD compilation of Mozart's music, and Warner's Digibook packaging that includes a 38-page write-up about the film.
Amadeus is a fabulous film well deserving of its many awards, but unfortunately, the theatrical version is excluded with this director's cutwhich, in this writers opinion, is an inferior version. Regardless of my personal disappointment, the audio and video are very good and a worthy upgrade over the DVD releases.
Release Date: February 10, 2009
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