SCREENnBetween Truth &nSchlocknby Eric ShapearonAmadeus; Directed by MilosnForman; Play and Script by PeternShaflFer; Orion Pictures.nAt cocktail parties there are inevitablynpeople who introduce themselves asnartists or writers or composers, whichnseems to mean nothing more than thatnthey consider themselves creative individualsnand have no doubts about thenvalidity and usefulness of their work.nThey do work: they write books that arennever published, paint pictures thatnare never publicly displayed, conceivenmusic recorded at their own expense.nThey are writers, artists, etc., becausenthey believe it to be so. In old andnweary Europe, these tormenting selfdelusionsnhave been long ago cruellynset into proper perspective: a writer, ornartist, is someone the others have acknowledgednas such—the title is notnself-conferrable. In America, wherenthe matrix of human rights is advancednad absurdum, dreams acquire autonomy,nand reality is secondary to thensovereign ravings of an ego.nPerhaps it is this creative everymannattitude that makes possible the successnof a mediocre play, turned into anshallow scenario. Amadeus oscillatesnbetween truth and schlock—one stepninto the direction of profundity, severalnsteps back into the glib language ofnadvanced film technology. The libertiesnand frivolities taken with historynare in overabundance. Mozart—thenputative subject—emerges as a mildlynrebellious but immensely likeablen”Beatle,” wearing wigs and clothes asnif for another Sergeant Pepper albumncover. He is stripped of all connectionsnwith the most fertile and inspiringnminds and philosophies of his contemporarynEurope, whom and which henknew well. His wife, Constance, anX/CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnVITAL SIGNSnfateful slattern, usually blamed fornmost of Mozart’s woes, moves throughnthe screen with all the virtues andncharms of a one-dimensional Hollywoodningenue. The obligatory accentnof class consciousness is introduced:nMozart is allegedly rejected by aristocraticnsnobbery and hugged to thenbosom of Vienna’s “people.” The supportingncast of historic charactersn— Emperor Joseph II and his retinue,nrepresented as a standardized team ofncourt dummies—move with puppetlikenmechanicality like the artifacts ofnan opera comique or buffo. The circumstancesnof Mozart’s death and funeral,none of the most poignant andnshameful incidents in the annals ofnWestern civilization, are presentednwith a melodrama that jars with thenfilm’s ambitions.nSo, what stays are two elements.nOne is the visual insight into thensplendors of Hapsburg rococo, perhapsnthe most intriguing, heartwarmingnperiod of European culture, which setnthe tone for two centuries of doctrinalnorgies, artistic and literary flourish,npolitical and social onslaughts. Thenmovie is shot in Prague, a well-knownnjewel of baroque and rococo architecturenand, in Mozart’s time, a veritablenrepository of future developments innmorals, manners, and pleasures. Mozart’snmusic, played against this skillfullynsumptuous backdrop, sparklesnwith intensity and elegance.nThe second is Salieri. In general, itnis hard to admit that acting can improvenwhat is infirm as literature andncinema. But in this instance, it seemsnto be exacriy the case: the remarkablenperformance of Mr. Murray Abrahamnas Salieri carries the role and thencharacter himself far beyond the playwright’s,nscriptwriter’s, and director’sninterpretation. The scriptwriter’snpremise is that Salieri hated Mozartnbecause he made him aware of hisnown mediocrity. The loutish Mozartnwas one through whom “God sang”n—an unbearable insult to Salieri whoncraved to devote his art to God. Annnstruggle with divine injustice is a seriousnmatter, but the film finally reducesnit to a divagation on envy—a deplorablensimplification. Historically,nSalieri’s animosity, even hostility, tonMozart was on record; but not hisninfluence on Mozart’s life. But Mr.nAbraham transcends the script; henmanages to suggest vulnerability andnadoration, hate and love, base impulsenand torment at the same time, turningnhis participation in the movie intonglory. Which ultimately makes usnwonder whether the success of it innNew York is not to be looked for in thendilemma of identification. Who reflectsnthe quandaries and malaises ofnthe cocktail-party writer or artist, whonfiercely refuses to.see him- or herself asnjust a “peintre du dimanche”? Certainlynnot Mozart, a genius acknowledgednby his time, all his miseriesnnotwithstanding. But Salieri? He knewnthe bitterness of knowing how good henwas and how this “good” was notnenough. He was not exactly maltreated,nbut he did not get his due, eithernfrom Providence, or from the world.nHe was wronged, after all—what anfamiliar condition. One thing is obviouslynoverlooked in such speculation:nnamely that, in the end, AntonionSalieri, after 200 years, has a respectablenentry in every encyclopedian—and deservedly so. ccnEric Shapearo frequently reviews filmsnfor Chronicles of Culture.nRegressnby Stephen MacaulaynThe Cotton Club; Directed by FrancisnCoppola; Screenplay by WilliamnKennedy and Francis Coppola;nOrion.nThe art of Francis Coppola requiresneither epic scope or severe limits.nThere is no in-between. Actually, thenepic is his long suit. The Godfathern