Amadeus: Original Play vs. Film Adaptation

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Though extremely different in many ways, Amadeus was successfully translated from stage to film not as an adaptation but a parallel work. Peter Shaffer’s stage version is highly theatrical and unfortunately does not literally translate well to film, for multiple reasons. Shaffer and Milos Forman adapted Amadeus in a way that appealed to cinema audiences through cutting characters, expanding upon characters, altering language and narration, set and costume design, plot changes and taking full advantage of the dramatic powers of the camera. Milos Forman said “The fact that Amadeus was so stylized, so theatrical—well, so un-cinematic, was actually a blessing—it meant we wouldn’t be tempted to merely translate the play to screen, but would be forced to demolish the original, then totally reimagine it as a film.” One of the largest differences between play and film that make the film Amadeus its own piece of art, are the changes in narration. Though called Amadeus, it is really Salieri that occupies the center of the stage and “conducts” the action of the play. In the film, Mozart’s role is enhanced from the beginning. The film commences with the declaration of “Mozart! Mozart!” as opposed to the play’s “Salieri! Salieri!” In the play, Salieri doesn’t mention Mozart in his speech until the end. He goes on and on about his undying passion for absolute music and his dedication to his father, the Lord, until finally “The same year I left Lombardy, a young prodigy was touring

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