Amadeus (1984)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Production Notes
Isolated Musical Score
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 153
RSDL / Flipper FLIPPER (98:54) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Milos Forman
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring F. Murray Abraham
Tom Hulce
Elizabeth Berridge
Simon Callow
Roy Dotrice
Christine Ebersole
Jeffrey Jones
Charles Kay
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Neville Marriner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Amadeus tells the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a composer who lived in the 18th century and who died relatively young under somewhat murky circumstances. In his short life, he contributed enormously to classical music. He was gifted and prodigious, and is considered one of the greatest composers ever to have lived.

    The story is presented as the recollections of an old man, Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham in his Academy Award winning role). Salieri was the court composer in the Viennese court, the most influential musical arena in the world at the time. Salieri dedicated his life to the service of God through his music, and his piety. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) bursts onto the Viennese musical scene. He is crude, arrogant, bawdy and brash, but is a musical genius. Salieri hears his music and is convinced that Mozart is expressing the voice of God through his music, something which Salieri has only been able to aspire to do. Salieri cannot reconcile Mozart's musical gift with his crude demeanour. He becomes mad with jealousy, and vows to destroy Mozart by any means at his disposal, renouncing God in the process.

    Amadeus is a brilliant film, well-deserving of its eight Academy Awards. It is visually stunning, and spirited on by breathtaking music. The acting is superb, both from the two lead actors and from the superb supporting cast. Two-and-a-half hours long, the movie races past at breakneck speed, never once faltering, and never once feeling over-long. In fact, it is over far too soon, and you are left wanting more, which is a sure sign of a great movie.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of this movie is borderline acceptable, given the age of the film.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was not as sharp as current generation transfers, but this was consistent throughout the entire transfer, so this was not a major issue. Shadow detail was not as good as current transfers, but also quite acceptable. No low level noise was apparent.

    The colours varied somewhat between being somewhat muted in some scenes and vibrant in the more festive scenes. Colour bleeding was never a problem. Overall, I felt that the fidelity was true to the original cinematography so I was happy with the colour balance.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts were a significant problem with this transfer. A significant amount of telecine wobble mars this transfer from time-to-time. Whilst the wobble is not enormous, it is noticeable and slightly distracting. In terms of total time involved, I felt that around 2% of the movie was affected by this artefact, though I did not keep a specific record of the times that this occurred. Minor aliasing was also present, most noticeably when Salieri is looking at Mozart's music for the first time.

    Film artefacts were extremely common at times during this transfer, and in some scenes, were very distracting. The scenes that I considered the worst affected were 48:03 - 49:19 and 73:55 - 79:13. Having said that, some scenes were very clean and free of artefacts. I was very disappointed by this aspect of the film's transfer.

    This disc is a flipper. The side change is placed at 98:54, just after the opera Don Giovanni finishes. I felt that this was an excellent place for a break, as the disruption to the storyline is minimal. Of course, RSDL formatting would have been far superior.

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on this DVD. The default is English Dolby Digital 5.1. This is the track that I listened to. The other track present is an Isolated Music Score in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. This movie was originally released in Dolby Stereo, and has been remixed for this DVD.

    Dialogue was placed in the centre channel, and was very clear almost all of the time. Very occasionally when the musical score is sounding forth in its full glory, some of the words are a little hard to make out, but the dialogue intelligibility of this soundtrack is remarkably good considering the amount of competition that it often has from the musical score. There was an area of the movie where I felt audio sync was a problem. This was in the scene where Mozart is getting a tongue lashing from his mother-in-law which then segues into The Magic Flute. His mother-in-law appears marginally out of sync, though this is probably an ADR problem rather than a disc mastering problem.

    The music is a highlight of this soundtrack, and consists of classical pieces, mainly Mozart's own music. His music evokes a range of emotions, from sadness to joy to fear to anger. The music is wonderfully performed, and considering Neville Marriner's talents, this is no surprise. It is mixed in stereo with some presence in the rear channels, which places you in the midst of the soundtrack. This is very effective in drawing you into the on-screen action, especially since the music is near-continuous throughout this soundtrack.

     The surround channels sounded mono, but were well-utilized nonetheless, with music frequently coming from the rear speakers. As stated above, the surrounds contributed effectively to the overall enveloping sound of this soundtrack.

    The .1 channel was subtly used for the music, and was only moderately, but very effectively, used.

Extras

    There are only limited extras on this disc. What you get, however, is at least reasonable.

Menu

    The menu design is unremarkable.

Theatrical Trailer

    The theatrical trailer is present on this disc, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. This is nicely presented with an effective stereo mix.

Production Notes

    Very extensive production notes cover historical and location perspectives on this movie. They make for good reading.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Very extensive Cast & Crew Biographies round out the extras on this disc.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R4 and R1 versions of this DVD are identically featured.

Summary

    Amadeus is a masterpiece. It is a stunning, passionate and exciting movie.

    The video quality is mostly very good, but significant film artefacts mar the transfer somewhat, which is a great pity. This is not enough, however, to detract in a large way from the overall wonderful experience of this movie.

    The audio quality is extremely good considering the film's vintage. Dialogue is remarkably clear, and the music is magnificent. My only gripe with the audio in this movie is that the operas are often sung in English rather than their original language.

    The extras are quite limited, but interesting nonetheless.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Saturday, January 02, 1999
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Amplification2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
SpeakersPhilips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer

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