As January comes to a close so does the movie theme for the blog, and the last flick to pick could only be Milos Foreman’s 1984 masterpiece, Amadeus. It’s quite the departure from the ones we’ve discussed thus far, and it’s not like we’re headed for cult classic territory either, as this film was well loved at the time of its release garnering a litany of awards, including 4 Oscars, one of which being a win in the Best Picture category. Weirder still, I have steadfastly removed us from the realm of rock & roll, in fact we've left the 20th century altogether for the powdered wig enlightenment era of the 18th.
There’s a reason I’ve brought us here however, a method to my madness if you will. It’s been my experience as an avid music fan immersed in the confines of all things rock that the love for classical music among my fellow headbangers is sorely lacking. And it’s not like I don’t understand why. Classical music has a poshness to it that is altogether unpalatable to rockers of all varieties with the opera going public providing even further obviation for good measure. Yet there is some marvelous music here that needs to be heard! And it’s my belief that Amadeus provides the perfect introduction for the more modernly inclined music fan to enjoy.
This isn’t a biopic of the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, so the plot falls far from the actual facts of the composer’s life. Instead, the plot creates a fictional rivalry between Mozart and fellow composer of the era Antonio Salieri, who takes on the role of narrator over the course of the film. This unique approach removes the film from the grasps of the musical elitist crowd, who undoubtedly loathe the films cavalier adherence to the facts and opens the forum up to pretty much everyone else.
The greatness of the actor’s performances can’t be overstated either as both Tom Hulce (Mozart) and F. Murray Abraham (Salieri) are phenomenal in their portrayals of the two composers. Abraham for his part really does steal the show and it makes perfect sense to me why he won the Oscar that year for best actor in a leading role. It’s his narration that creates this mystique around Mozart and his music, helping us understand just how lofty the talent the composer had, and how utterly important the music he created was. But it isn’t adoration that motivates our narrator, rather it’s an intense sinister jealousy that sees Mozart’s genius as an affront not only to him, but to the music word entirely. This storytelling dynamic is the backbone of the movie and the reason why it’s so great. In a way it’s not so different than SLC Punk, or, more appropriately, 24 Hour Party People in that respect. Once again, our narrator is educating us, but not in some rigid academic way, rather the focus here is the romanticism of the art and the raw emotion of each piece of music described. It’s this approach I believe that makes this movie so appealing to music fans generally, and I’m often told how a newfound adoration and respect has been garnered by the respective viewer when the final scene fades to black, and credits begin to role.
It can’t be left unsaid how gorgeous the set design and fantastic opera performances that persist throughout the film. No expense was left unfilled it seems when it came to the recreation of some of Mozart’s greatest hits like Marriage of Figaro, or Don Giovanni, check out the performance of the former below and I think you’ll get a taste of what I’m going on about.
In any case, Amadeus is one of my all-time favorites, so I do hope you give this one watch at your earliest convenience. I promise you, it’s worth it!
Next Time on The Greatest Thing You've Never Heard
Next up, Ben and John focus back to to the familiar stoner/doom/psych realm and back to instrumental music for the first time since last summer. The 54th record for the show will be Terra 42 by Italy's L'ira Del Baccano and it's a doozy! Chops and instrumental hooks for days; this is gonna be a fun one!
What We’ve Been Listening to
Ben has been enjoying 40 Watt Sun’s 2022 effort, Perfect Light. This one is an early contender for album of the year for Ben, so you know you’ve gotta give it a listen; I know I will! He has also been digging Monster Magnet's 1995 release, Dopes to Infinity.
John has been listening to Can’s, Live at Brighton 1975, which was released just last year, and Killing Joke’s eponymous 1980 debut which is also a personal favorite of mine as well. Good taste on Jon eh!
As for me, I’m loving all things Dead Soft, particularly their self-titled 2014 release. I’ve also been rediscovering my youth a bit with Jane’s Addiction's 1988 classic, Nothing's Shocking.
Be sure to check those out and a have a rockin’ weekend!