Amadeus (Remastered) (1984)

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 153:27
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:25) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
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
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/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
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
Romanian
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian 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 has been a critical and commercial success as both a play and a movie. As a movie it won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor. I have seen the movie a number of times, and I never tire of it. The sound and music are truly sublime, the acting and direction are great, the lighting, editing and photography inspired, and the costumes, art-direction and production generally are superb. This movie also has some of the best make-up effects I have ever seen (which scored an Oscar for the talented Dick Smith). In short, the movie is faultless, and the DVD is very good.

    Amadeus the play originally opened in the Broadhurst theatre, England in 1980 and ran for over 1000 performances. It later ran on Broadway as well, and bagged a Tony award along the way. On stage, great actors such as David Suchet and Sir Ian McKellen have played the main role of Salieri. Peter Schaffer adapted his play for the big screen, and provided a great screen adaptation. While some great plays make very stilted and awkward movies, such as Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolfe? and A Man For All Seasons, as a movie, Amadeus never suffers from its roots as a play. Movies are a visual medium, and Amadeus never gets bogged down in long scenes of dialogue. The movie seems much shorter than its two and a half hours, and is very well-paced. Of note, the brilliant director Milos Forman did a fantastic job with another great play adaptation, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

    Amadeus is set in the grandeur of late 18th century Vienna, where an ambitious composer, Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), finds himself driven to jealousy and rage. The object of his envy and hatred is the young musical genius Mozart (Tom Hulce), who has recently arrived in town. Bitter at his own mediocrity, and believing that God is mocking him through Mozart, Salieri begins to evilly scheme to bring about Mozart's failure, or death.

    One must remember that the movie Amadeus is based on a play, and not on history. There is no suggestion in any historical source that Salieri was involved in Mozart's death, which was from a combination of depression, sickness and alcoholism. Salieri also did not pay Mozart to compose a requiem that he could pass off as his own, although a Count named Walsegg tried unsuccessfully to do this.

    Snippets of my three favourite Mozart operas, The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni are used, and as an aside, this movie does remind me how much the child-prodigy Mozart achieved in his short life. He sadly died at the age of 35 after composing a vast quantity of some of the most moving and perfectly crafted music ever heard. One can only imagine what we missed out on by his early passing. As a note of trivia, it does not appear in the movie, but Salieri taught music to Schubert, Beethoven and Liszt. Also, unlike the movie, Saleiri was known to be deeply upset with Mozart's passing, and was the only member of the Viennese Court to attend Mozart's 'third-class' funeral.

    I can still vividly recall my parents taking me to see Amadeus as a child. I later saved my pocket money and went to see it again. It was the first movie I saw twice at the movie theatres. I then saved my money to buy the double-album soundtrack on vinyl LP. When our family finally got a video player, guess what was the first ex-rental video I bought? I later got a CD player, and I bought the Amadeus soundtrack on CD. And when DVD arrived, guess what was one of the first DVDs I ever bought?

    That was the original 'flipper' (DVD10) version of Amadeus, which has been replaced by this 'remastered' DVD9 version. I feel that it is a little misleading to call this DVD 'remastered' as it appears to be the same transfer, but on a RSDL disc. Also, before you race out and replace the 'flipper', be aware that all the extras from the original DVD (trailer, production notes, cast & crew bios, and isolated music score) have all been removed from this version. You can read Michael D's great review of the original 'flipper' here.

    Amadeus has been given a 'Director's Cut' (although not by the Director) in the US, and a new restored print with 20 extra minutes is being released in a limited theatrical run in April 2002. Details can be found on the official web site at http://movies.warnerbros.com/amadeus. However, I have not yet uncovered any official missive from Warners in regards to a 'Director's Cut DVD' in R1 or R4.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is reasonable for its age, but this is no demo disc.

    The transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is a little soft throughout, but still manages to display intricate detail, such as is displayed in the detailed shot at 23:25. Shadow detail is reasonable, as seen in the shot of the dark room at 19:53.

    The colours sometimes appear to be dark or muted, but in other scenes, such as in the Vatican at 10:20, there was a great display of vibrant, lush colours, with bright golds and deep reds. The use of colour is very effective in this movie, and it gives some scenes a very warm and intimate feel.

    There were no MPEG artefacts, but there were some Film-to-video artefacts. Aliasing usually took the form of a mild shimmer, such as on the score at 23:43 and 53:17. There was also some very slight telecine wobble at times.

    Film artefacts appear frequently throughout this movie. Fortunately, most are small, such as the smattering of white flecks that appear between 7:10 and 7:15, but some are quite large, such as the monster film artefact that appears at 45:36.

    There are twelve sets of subtitles present, and the English subtitles are simplified but accurate.

    This is a RSDL disc, with the layer change placed during Chapter 16 at 66:25. It is smooth, and as it is between scenes, it is not disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Originally released theatrically in Dolby Stereo, this movie won Best Sound at the Academy Awards. Remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 for DVD, the audio retains some of its original stereo feel.

    Apart from the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, there are also French and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks available on this DVD.

    The default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track has no major problems with dialogue quality nor audio sync.

    Mozart provides most of the music for this movie, and it has been beautifully arranged by the renowned Sir Neville Marriner. What can one possibly write about Mozart's music? How utterly barren would be any attempt by me to render his perfection into my crude words. What I can add is that John Strauss, the movie's music coordinator, makes a cameo appearance as a conductor during the Magic Flute. Also, the premiere of Don Giovanni was filmed in the Tyl Theatre in Vienna, almost two hundred years to the day from when it actually premiered in that theatre.

    The surround presence and activity mainly takes the form of the score being piped to the rears. The surround sound mix is a little front-heavy, but the rear speakers are used effectively to help carry the score throughout, and provide ambience, such as the audience applause at 40:56 and the party ambience at 61:09. This maintains a nice soundfield while keeping the viewer firmly focussed on the screen.

    The subwoofer is also utilised very subtly to support both the score, for example during Don Giovanni at 93:40, and the sound effects, such as the stampede of deer at 47:16.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    As I observed earlier, unlike the previous 'flipper' release of this DVD, there are no extras at all on this RSDL-formatted DVD.

Menu

    A very simple menu, it is static and silent.

R4 vs R1

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

    This 'remastered' DVD appears not to have been released yet in Region 1, as Region 1 retailers are still happily selling the original 'flipper' they released in 1997. That version had the same features as our original 'flipper'. This anomaly may be explained by a 'Director's Cut DVD' potentially being released later this year in R1.

Summary

    Amadeus is one of the all-time great movies and I would love to see a restored and truly 'remastered' version of it on DVD. Even if you're not a fan of 'classical' music, I'm sure that this movie, with its absorbing story, has something to offer everyone. If you already own the 'flipper', I would think twice before looking at this version.

    The video quality is slightly disappointing but still very watchable.

    The audio quality is very good albeit quite front-heavy.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Wednesday, April 17, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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