Amadeus: Director's Cut (1984)
Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1984|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Milos Forman|
Warner Home Video
F. Murray Abraham
|RPI||$34.95||Music||Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Amadeus: Director's Cut is truly sublime. Featuring around 20 minutes of new footage, and digitally restored and remastered picture and sound, one of the all-time best movies (winner of 8 Oscars including Best Picture), is now also one of the best DVDs!
Before I discuss the Director's Cut, I will start with my plot review for the original version of Amadeus:
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. The 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.
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 which does not appear in the movie, Salieri taught music to Schubert, Beethoven and Liszt. Also, unlike the movie, Salieri 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 tape 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 was later superseded by a "remastered" DVD9 version, which appeared to be the same transfer, but on an RSDL disc. Strangely, all the extras from the original DVD (trailer, production notes, cast & crew bios, and isolated music score) were all removed from this version. You can read Michael D's great review of the original 'flipper' here.
Amadeus has been given the "Director's Cut" treatment, and a new restored print with around 20 extra minutes was released in a limited theatrical run in the USA and Europe in April 2002. The popularity of a "Director's Cut" or "Extended Edition" is an interesting one, as it really begs the question of when a movie is finished. Some movies, such as Spartacus, had been released for decades before having deleted scenes restored to them. The advent of DVD has really encouraged this practice, as many of these Director's Cuts and Extended Editions are made purely for the DVD market. I personally like the idea, and I have never seen a Director's Cut or an Extended Edition that was worse than the original movie. Sometimes, like Spartacus, they're better. Sometimes, as with Armageddon, they're much the same. However, I would prefer (where possible) if it could be done utilising DVD's ability for seamless branching, as in Independence Day. This allows viewers to watch either the theatrical or special edition. Some Director's Cuts merely extend the movie, allowing for greater exposition, such as the brilliant extended edition of Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring. Others allow the movie to break free of its theatrical family-friendly rating, and release a more adult film, such as Pearl Harbor: Director's Cut. However, there is also the Director's Cut which allows one to enjoy the movie in a whole new light, a version that allows viewers to gain a new insight into the plot and characters, for example Blade Runner: Director's Cut. I would place Amadeus: Director's Cut in the last category. Of the DVD's 46 chapters, 16 include new or extended scenes. These scenes don't merely pad the movie out, but some contain material of such importance that I am baffled as to why they were cut in the first place. For example, I was always surprised at the level of vitriol between Constanze and Salieri in the final scenes, however the new and extended scenes add a whole new dimension to the plot and characters of Amadeus. Furthermore, Salieri's character gets far more development in this version, and Mozart's failed teaching career is explained.
The transfer is much better than that of the last two DVD releases.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which is close to the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.
The image is reasonably sharp throughout. The black level is great, but the shadow detail is poor is some of the darker scenes, such as at 100:54.
Unlike the last release, where the quality of the colour was a little variable, the colour here is simply magnificent, except in scenes where it appears purposely muted.
While there appeared to be some minor pixelization in some scenes, there were no real problems with MPEG artefacts. Aliasing was rare, but usually took the form of a mild shimmer, such as on the score at 57:57. Film artefacts appear throughout this movie, but most are small white flecks.
There are 8 sets of subtitles present. The English subtitles are simplified but accurate.
This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 87:09. It is fairly smooth, and not disruptive.
Originally released theatrically in Dolby Stereo, this movie won Best Sound at the Academy Awards.
Apart from the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and English Dolby Stereo Surround are also available on this DVD. The audio commentary is presented in English Dolby Digital 1.0.
The default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio has no major problems with dialogue quality nor audio sync.
As expected, Mozart provides most of the music for this movie, and it has been beautifully arranged by the renowned Sir Neville Marriner. As I wrote in my last review of Amadeus, "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". In my opinion, this movie has arguably the best score of any film.
As with the previous DVD release, the surround presence and activity mainly takes the form of the score being piped to the rears. Again, the surround sound mix is a little front-heavy, but the rear speakers are used effectively to help carry the score throughout, and provide suitable ambience, such as the crowd at 41:39.
The subwoofer is also utilised very subtly, such as the booming footsteps during the Don Giovanni sequence.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are a number of genuine and enjoyable extras which is a vast improvement on the last release, which had none. However, the isolated music score that was available as an extra on the original 'flipper' is not one of them.
A very simple menu with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.
Theatrical Trailer (2:17)
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.
Cast & Crew
The director, Milos Forman, and author, Peter Schaffer, provide a very informative and entertaining commentary. Forman exhibits a great sense of humour, and they both offer many insights into various aspects of the movie.
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo surround audio, this is a genuine and very recent documentary, featuring stills and behind the scenes footage from the production. There are also a number of fascinating interviews with key cast and crew members.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Amadeus: Director's Cut was released on DVD in Region 1 with the same features.
As Amadeus is a period drama, it will never date. The quality of this movie demands that it be watched and rewatched. I thoroughly recommend this DVD to any movie or music lover.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is also very good.
The extras are genuine and enjoyable.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-545|
|Speakers||Sony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer|