Analysis of Amadeus

Summary The movie "Amadeus" depicts the life of composer Antonio Salieri, who harbors jealousy and bitterness towards the talented Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Salieri schemes to undermine Mozart's reputation and ultimately plans his downfall, while Mozart struggles to balance writing various compositions and deal with failing health. As Mozart becomes increasingly desperate to complete his work, Salieri and others offer him money to finish a composition, ultimately leading to Mozart's death. Salieri confesses his wrongdoing and laments his own mediocrity. The film ends with the sound of Mozart's Funeral Music.


Screenplay Story Analysis

Story Critique The story of the screenplay is a complex and introspective exploration of the relationship between Old Salieri and Mozart, filled with themes of envy, guilt, and obsession. The juxtaposition of Salieri's inner turmoil with the glittering masquerade ballroom of Vienna adds depth and contrast to the narrative. The screenplay effectively delves into Salieri's troubled past and his deep-seated desire for recognition and greatness. The scene where Salieri plays his music for Father Vogler and reflects on his life is particularly powerful, showcasing the character's vulnerability and regrets. The overall story is compelling and thought-provoking, and it successfully engages the audience in its exploration of music, talent, and the nature of genius.
Suggestions: To improve the screenplay, it would be beneficial to further develop the relationship between Salieri and Mozart. While their dynamic is hinted at, some scenes could benefit from more interaction and conflict between the two characters. Additionally, the pacing of the story could be tightened in certain areas to maintain the audience's engagement. Finally, further exploration of Mozart's character and his own struggles and motivations would add depth to the overall narrative.

Note: This is the overall critique. For scene by scene critique click here

Characters in the screenplay, and their arcs:

Old Salieri

Old Salieri is a complex and tormented character throughout the movie. He is consumed by guilt and jealousy towards Mozart, feeling deeply unappreciated and overshadowed by his talent. Salieri is an accomplished composer, but he is constantly plagued by his envy and his inability to match Mozart's genius. Despite his bitterness and pride, Salieri is introspective and reflective, revealing a desire for recognition and a complicated relationship with God. He is a melancholic and nostalgic figure, haunted by his past and the mistakes he has made.



Father Vogler

Father Vogler is a compassionate and understanding priest who seeks to help others find redemption. He is patient and persistent in encouraging them to confess their sins and find peace. He is a good listener and a source of comfort for those who are struggling.



Salieri

Salieri is a successful and respected composer who is consumed by envy and resentment towards Mozart's talents and success. He is manipulative and willing to go to great lengths to ensure that Mozart doesn't overshadow him and that he remains in favor with the court. He struggles with his own self-worth and talent and harbors a deep-seated desire for recognition and adulation. Despite his bitterness, he is also fascinated by Mozart's unique musical ability and struggles with conflicting emotions of admiration and envy.



Mozart

Mozart is a brilliant and passionate composer who is often consumed by his music. He is easily excitable and impulsive, valuing his work above all else and often neglecting other aspects of his life. He has a deep love for his wife and a playful, mischievous side that endears him to those around him. However, he is also emotionally volatile and easily led astray by peer pressure. Despite his flaws, he is a musical genius with a desire to share his talents with the world.



Madame Weber

Madame Weber is a middle-aged, overbearing woman who is deeply invested in her family's success. She has high expectations for her daughters and can be pushy at times. Despite this, she is fiercely loyal and protective of her family.



Emperor Joseph

Emperor Joseph is a discerning and curious ruler who values the arts and seeks to improve the cultural reputation of his kingdom. He holds strong opinions about music and is not afraid to express them. He is also a patron of the arts who admires Mozart's talent and enjoys his performances. He values the opinion of the public and seeks to please them.



Leopold

Leopold is a strict, critical, and controlling father who is proud of his son's musical talents but disapproves of his financial struggles. He is manipulative and abrasive, often interjecting with anecdotes and boasts. He is out of touch with Mozart's passion for music and frivolous games, and is somewhat jealous of his son's success.



Constanze

Constanze is a determined and emotional character who loves her husband Mozart deeply, but struggles with financial instability and anxiety for his future. She is willing to take risks to promote his music and seeks help from influential figures. She is also playful and enjoys attending extravagant events, but becomes increasingly worried about Mozart's erratic behavior and struggles to defend him against criticism. She is a fiery and fierce protector of their household, who shows great strength in the face of adversity.



Schikaneder

Schikaneder is an eccentric and flamboyant impresario with a colorful personality. He enjoys creating games and entertainment for his guests and is always looking for ways to entertain the audience. However, he can also be impatient and demanding, pressuring Mozart to finish his work quickly and criticizing his artistic vision. He is focused on the bottom line and sees Mozart as a means to an end.



Character Arc Critique Suggestions
Old Salieri Salieri's arc is centered around his journey of self-discovery and his eventual confession of his role in Mozart's death. Initially consumed by guilt and envy, Salieri is unable to let go of his rivalry with Mozart. His failed suicide attempt and subsequent reflection force him to confront his demons and his relationship with God. As Salieri becomes increasingly introspective, he begins to understand the extent of his jealousy and envy towards Mozart. This culminates in his confession to Father Vogler, where he reveals the truth about Mozart's death and his own complicity in it. By seeking eternal infamy, Salieri is finally able to let go of his bitterness and guilt, accepting that he will never reach Mozart's level of talent. The character arc is well-done, but there could be more nuance to the character's motivations and emotions. Salieri's jealousy of Mozart is clearly established, but it may have been more effective to explore the root of his envy and how it relates to his own sense of self-worth. Additionally, while his confession and acceptance of his role in Mozart's death is a powerful moment, there could be more development of his relationships with other characters, such as his wife or Mozart's widow.
To improve the character arc, consider delving deeper into Salieri's past and the events that led to his jealousy of Mozart. This could provide more insight into his own sense of self-worth and add complexity to his motivations. Additionally, developing his relationships with other characters could add more emotional depth to the story. For example, exploring the tension between Salieri and Mozart's widow could add another layer of conflict to the story.
Father Vogler Throughout the movie, Father Vogler serves as a guide and confidant for Salieri. At first, Vogler tries to persuade Salieri to confess if he has anything to confess and seek redemption. However, as Salieri's jealousy and anger towards Mozart grows, Vogler's encouragement becomes more intense. He challenges Salieri to confront his demons and find a way to move past them. In the end, it is Vogler's voice that helps Salieri find peace, and he realizes that true forgiveness and redemption only come from within. The character arc for Father Vogler is well-developed and provides a helpful contrast to Salieri's journey. However, it might be more effective if Vogler had a clearer motivation or backstory. While he is portrayed as a compassionate and caring priest throughout the movie, we don't know much about his personal journey or what drives him to help others. This could make his character even more impactful and relatable.
To improve the character arc for Father Vogler, consider adding a scene or dialogue where he shares more about his personal journey or motivation for helping others. This could provide a more nuanced and empathetic perspective on his character, and make him even more impactful in his role as a guide for Salieri.
Salieri Salieri's character arc centers around his envy and bitterness towards Mozart, and his eventual realization that his obsession with destroying Mozart has ultimately consumed his own life and happiness. Throughout the film, Salieri engages in unethical behavior to sabotage Mozart's career, going as far as to impersonate a masked figure to commission a requiem from him under false pretenses. Despite his efforts, Mozart's talent continues to prevail, leaving Salieri feeling increasingly powerless and consumed by his own bitterness. At the end of the film, Salieri reflects on his life and past decisions, ultimately realizing that his envy and obsession with Mozart has robbed him of his own potential and happiness. He is left alone with his guilt and remorse, realizing that he may have been the real villain in the story. The character arc for Salieri is well-formed and effectively conveys the character's inner turmoil and eventual self-awareness. However, it could benefit from more overt moments of self-reflection and change throughout the film rather than relying solely on the final scene. Additionally, there may be opportunities to deepen Salieri's character by exploring the sources of his envy and bitterness more thoroughly.
To improve Salieri's character arc, consider adding more moments of self-reflection throughout the film. This could include scenes where Salieri begins to question the morality of his actions, or moments where he recognizes Mozart's talent and begins to appreciate it more deeply. Additionally, the film could delve deeper into the sources of Salieri's envy and bitterness, perhaps through flashbacks or conversations with other characters. This would add greater depth to his character and make his eventual self-awareness more satisfying.
Mozart Mozart's character arc follows his journey from a confident but arrogant young composer to a brilliant yet troubled musician struggling with financial and emotional issues. Throughout the movie, he faces personal and romantic problems, and his jealousy towards Salieri is evident. As he progresses, he becomes increasingly consumed by his work, neglecting his health and other aspects of his life. He is often at odds with those around him, including Salieri and Schikaneder, and his behavior becomes increasingly erratic as he deals with external pressures. Despite all of this, Mozart remains deeply passionate about his music until his tragic death from illness at a young age. While Mozart's character arc is well-developed, it could benefit from more consistency in his behavior throughout the movie. His impulsive nature and disregard for others at times contradict his deep love for his wife and playful, endearing nature. Additionally, the progression of his emotional volatility and disregard for his health could be more gradual and well-defined.
To improve Mozart's character arc, the filmmakers could focus on developing his flaws and their impact on his relationships, rather than simply introducing them for plot convenience. Additionally, more emphasis could be placed on his emotional growth and the impact that his struggles have on his music. A clearer, more well-defined progression of his emotional instability and neglect of his health could also add depth to his arc.
Madame Weber At the beginning of the movie, Madame Weber is eager to gain access to the backstage area with her daughters. This displays her ambition and determination to further her family's success. As the movie progresses, she becomes more complex and multi-dimensional. During her encounter with the Emperor, she becomes overwhelmed and theatrical, demonstrating her desire for status and validation. Later on, during her argument with Mozart, she reveals her anger and disappointment with him for neglecting his family. By the end of the movie, Madame Weber has transformed into a confrontational and fierce advocate for her daughter, confronting Mozart about his mistreatment of Constanze and his role in furthering his own mental instability. The character arc of Madame Weber starts off promisingly, but ultimately falls flat. While it is interesting to see her motivations and desires, her transformation into a confrontational and angry woman feels rushed and contrived. Additionally, her character lacks nuance and subtlety, making her feel like a caricature at times.
To improve the character arc of Madame Weber, it would be beneficial to spend more time exploring her emotions and inner life. This could be achieved through more intimate scenes where she reflects on her relationships with her family members. Additionally, it would be helpful to avoid relying on cliches or stereotypes when depicting her character. Instead, focus on making her more complex and multi-dimensional, with a range of emotions and motivations that are nuanced and authentic.
Emperor Joseph At the beginning of the movie, Emperor Joseph is shown to be a patron of the arts who enjoys new music and has opinions that he is not afraid to express. He is intrigued by Mozart's opera and ultimately decides to restore the ballet scene, showing his curiosity. As the movie progresses, Joseph becomes more appreciative of Mozart's talent and his music. By the end of the movie, Joseph publicly honors Salieri for his achievements, showing that he values the opinion of the public. The character arc for Emperor Joseph is one of growth and appreciation for the arts. The character arc for Emperor Joseph could have been more complex, with more ups and downs. The arc seems to be fairly straightforward and predictable, lacking in dramatic tension.
To improve the character arc, it could have been more interesting to see Joseph struggle with conflicting opinions about Mozart's music and his own personal taste. This would have added more dramatic tension and made the character arc more interesting. It may have also been interesting to show Joseph facing opposition from other members of his court who did not agree with his decisions about the arts.
Leopold Throughout the movie, Leopold starts off as a controlling and critical father who is concerned about his son's financial situation and success. As the story progresses, Leopold becomes more proud of his son's achievements but still struggles to understand Mozart's passion and lifestyle. Ultimately, Leopold begins to realize the value of his son's music and passion, and learns to appreciate Mozart for who he is. The character arc for Leopold feels somewhat predictable and cliché. It would be more interesting to explore his jealousy and controlling behavior in more depth, and to see him struggle with letting go of his own desires for his son's success. Additionally, Leopold's transformation from disapproving father to proud supporter feels sudden and not fully developed.
To improve Leopold's character arc, consider delving deeper into his motivations and insecurities. Show more conflict between him and Mozart, and explore the tension between his desire for Mozart's success and his jealousy. Additionally, give Leopold more agency in his transformation by having him actively work to understand and appreciate Mozart's music and lifestyle, rather than just having it happen suddenly.
Constanze Constanze starts as a passionate and supportive wife who desperately seeks opportunities to promote her husband's music and secure their financial stability. As the story progresses, she becomes increasingly aware of the danger and manipulation of figures like Salieri and Schikaneder. She shows strength through her determination to protect Mozart's health and well-being, but also struggles with the weight of trying to balance her love for him with her responsibilities to their family. In the end, she emerges as a strong-willed and protective character who defends Mozart against those who seek to harm him. The character arc is well-constructed and depicts Constanze's evolution from a naive and anxious wife to a strong-willed protector of her husband. However, some of the descriptions are a bit vague and could benefit from more specific examples from the movie to illustrate how she changes over time.
To improve the character arc, it would be helpful to highlight more specific moments in the story that demonstrate Constanze's transformation. For example, showing how she becomes increasingly aware of Salieri's manipulation or how she struggles to defend Mozart against Schikaneder's criticisms. This would help to make her character arc more compelling and engaging for the audience.
Schikaneder Schikaneder's character arc in the screenplay involves him initially being portrayed as a lively and outgoing personality, collaborating with Mozart and enjoying creating entertainment for his guests. However, as the story progresses, Schikaneder's true motives are slowly revealed. He becomes increasingly frustrated with Mozart's delays in finishing his work and is shown pressuring him to hurry up. Schikaneder also appears to be more concerned with the monetary success of their productions and sees Mozart as a means to an end. In the end, Schikaneder's manipulation and greed are exposed, and he is forced to confront his true motives and face the consequences of his actions. The character arc for Schikaneder is well-developed, illustrating his gradual transformation from a lively and outgoing personality to a manipulative and greedy impresario. However, the arc could be improved by delving further into his motivations and backstory, particularly in regards to his relationship with Mozart and the theater business. Additionally, Schikaneder's redemption in the end could be more fully explored, showing him taking responsibility for his actions and making amends with the other characters.
To improve the character arc for Schikaneder, there could be more flashbacks or scenes showing him interacting with Mozart and other characters in the past. This could provide more insight into his motivations and why he is so focused on the bottom line. Additionally, his redemption in the end could be more fully explored, with him apologizing to Mozart and the other characters and making efforts to reconcile with them. Overall, the arc for Schikaneder is strong, but could benefit from more depth and complexity.
Theme Theme Details Themee Explanation
JealousySalieri's jealousy towards Mozart and his work, leading him to manipulate Mozart's career and plot his downfall.This theme is at the core of the screenplay as Salieri's jealousy towards Mozart is the driving force behind his actions.
Mediocrity vs. GeniusSalieri's realization of his own mediocrity compared to Mozart's genius, leading him to feel guilty for his actions.This theme is explored throughout the screenplay, as Salieri struggles with his own talent and the comparison to Mozart's unparalleled genius.
BetrayalSalieri betrays Mozart by plotting his downfall and spreading rumors about him, leading to Mozart's death.Betrayal is a secondary theme as Salieri's actions towards Mozart can be seen as a form of betrayal due to their complicated relationship.
RegretSalieri's regret for his actions towards Mozart and his realization of the mistakes he has made later in life.Regret is a theme that is explored through Salieri's remorse for his actions towards Mozart, leading to a sense of redemption.
MusicThe importance of music and its impact on characters throughout the screenplay, particularly Mozart's music.Music is a recurring motif throughout the screenplay and is used to highlight its emotional impact on the characters.



Screenwriting Resources on Themes

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Goals and Philosophical Conflict
internal Goals The protagonist's internal goal is to cope with guilt and seek forgiveness for his actions, as well as to understand and appreciate Mozart's talent.
External Goals The protagonist's external goal is to maintain his position and reputation in the music industry, while also manipulating Mozart's career and attempting to undermine him.
Philosophical Conflict The overarching philosophical conflict revolves around themes of jealousy, talent, artistic integrity, and the relationship between God and human creativity.


Character Development Contribution: These goals and conflicts contribute to the character's development by challenging his beliefs, inspiring introspection, and ultimately leading to his realization of the limitations of his own talent.

Narrative Structure Contribution: The protagonist's goals and conflicts provide a framework for the narrative structure, driving the plot and shaping the interactions between characters.

Thematic Depth Contribution: The goals and conflicts delve into deeper themes such as the nature of genius, artistic integrity, the corrupting power of envy, and the search for meaning and validation in one's life and work.


Screenwriting Resources on Goals and Philosophical Conflict

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YouTube Videos

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How I Build a Story's Philosophical Conflict How do you build philosophical conflict into your story? Where do you start? And how do you develop it into your characters and their external actions. Today I’m going to break this all down and make it fully clear in this episode.
Endings: The Good, the Bad, and the Insanely Great By Michael Arndt: I put this lecture together in 2006, when I started work at Pixar on Toy Story 3. It looks at how to write an "insanely great" ending, using Star Wars, The Graduate, and Little Miss Sunshine as examples. 90 minutes
Tips for Writing Effective Character Goals By Jessica Brody (Save the Cat!): Writing character goals is one of the most important jobs of any novelist. But are your character's goals...mushy?