Amadeus Literary Elements


Milos Forman

Leading Actors/Actresses

F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce

Supporting Actors/Actresses

Richard Frank, Elizabeth Berridge, Roy Dotrice, Simon Callow, Christine Ebersole, Jeffrey Jones, Charles Kay, Cynthia Nixon, Roderick Cook, Barbara Bryne






55 Awards: 13 nominations, 42 wins (8 Academy Awards wins, 4 BAFTAS wins, 4 Golden Globes wins, many other domestic awards wins, and a variety of international awards wins)

Date of Release

Original Copy (1984), Director's Cut (2002)


Michael Hausman (executive producer), Bertil Ohlsson (executive producer), Saul Zaentz (producer)

Setting and Context

The story is a frame narrative; both the outer story and the inner story take place in Vienna, Austria. The outer story occurs in 1823; the inner story occurs in different parts of the 18th century, mostly in the decade leading up to 1791.

Narrator and Point of View

Antonio Salieri is the narrator, and the story is told from a first-person point of view.

Tone and Mood

Nostalgic, passionate, confessional, dramatic, elaborate, exagerrated, and comical.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Antonio Salieri (Protagonist), God and Mozart (Antagonists)

Major Conflict

Antonio Salieri in his youth promises to be chaste and devoted to God if God blesses him with exceptional musical abilities. He believes that God has answered his prayers until he encounters Mozart, a musical prodigy with a vulgar personality. When Salieri meets Mozart, Salieri realizes that Mozart is the exceptional talent and that Salieri is mediocre at best. Mozart is at a level that Salieri will never reach, and Mozart does his best to throw this fact into Salieri's face whenever he can. After being made aware of his mediocrity multiple times, Salieri seeks revenge against both Mozart and God.


The climax occurs when Mozart and Salieri spend the night together, working on the Requiem. Mozart dies unexpectedly soon afterwards.


The first line of the film, "Mozart! Mozart, forgive your assassin! I confess, I killed you...," informs the audience immediately that Mozart will die at some point in Salieri's narrative.



Innovations in Filming or Lighting or Camera Techniques

The director's cut has twenty minutes of extra footage. The extra footage makes it easier to understand certain scenes from the original release. For example, the director's cut shows that Salieri propositions Constanze for sex and that when she shows up to sleep with him, he kicks her out. This extra piece of information makes it clear why Constanze is not too happy to see Salieri in her house just a few minutes before Mozart dies. The director's cut also makes it clear why Mozart is unable to find a tutoring position: it shows that Salieri has been spreading negative rumors about Mozart. The director's cut also gives more screen time to Salieri's prayers.


Mozart wants to write an opera based on a play that the emperor has banned. When Emperor Joseph II of Austria and the other musical advisors tell him to choose another topic, Mozart tells them the following: "Come on now, be honest! Which one of you wouldn't rather listen to his hairdresser than Hercules? Or Horatius, or Orpheus... people so lofty they sound as if they shit marble!"




Mozart and Salieri are similar in many ways. They share a strong passion for music. They both experience the weight of domineering fathers, and they both have a tendency to subvert authority. Mozart's subversion of authority, however, is brazen and straightforward, whereas Salieri's methods are roundabout and covert. Parallelisms also exist between Constanze and Leopold. Both Constanze and Leopold play the role of Mozart's caretaker in the film. Constanze is in many ways more of a parent to the infantile Mozart than a wife. Like Leopold did before he passed away, Constanze tries to manage Mozart's finances, and she tries to get him to follow reason rather than emotions. Constanze, however, faces the same difficulties that Leopold faced with Mozart. Mozart has the disposition of a spoiled child, and he does not heed any advice. Furthermore, the scene in which Leopold tries to save Mozart's ties with Prince-Archbishop Colloredo of Salzburg mimics the scene in which Constanze secretly meets with Salieri to try to secure a position for Mozart after Mozart decides to let pride get in the way of applying for the position.