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Amadeus: Director's Cut

The "Director's Cut" of Milos Forman's 1983 Amadeus has 22 more minutes added to the running time — something that doesn't seem at all necessary, since Amadeus is close to a perfect film, with nary a misstep in its entire two-and-a-half-hours-plus. So really, the added elements just emphasize points we already got the first time around. There's a few more scenes of a conniving Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), and a couple more of Salieri and Mozart (Tom Hulce) together, which only serve to make Mozart look even more clueless, actually weakening his character. There's a scene involving the down-on-his-luck Mozart attempting to give a music lesson to the daughter of a wealthy man with a pack of distracting dogs, illustrating his ego/dignity even in the face of abject poverty. And there's a lot of extensions of scenes that didn't need extending. Overall, the additional material doesn't harm the film, but it doesn't add anything either. That said, the transfer on Warner's two-disc Amadeus: Director's Cut is a beauty, rich and crisp with amazing depth. This is a beautiful film, with phenomenal outdoor scenes of 18th-century architecture (Prague stood in for Vienna in both the exterior and most interior scenes), indoor scenes lit by candlelight, snowy late-night exteriors ... all of it looks gorgeous in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1). And it sounds great, too. With the music playing as much of a role in Amadeus as any of the actors, it's wonderful to hear Mozart's masterpieces booming out in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (or, if you choose, Dolby 2.0 Surround) without sacrificing dialogue. The audio mix is as good as one could ask for. Disc One offers the feature film with optional commentary by director Forman and scenarist Peter Shaffer (it's scene-specific and very informative, if a little stiff — one gets the feeling that Forman and Shaffer never had what you'd call a buddy-buddy relationship), as well as cast-and-crew notes. Disc Two offers the theatrical trailer and the hour-long featurette The Making of Amadeus; as "making-of" features go, this one is very good, with lots of behind-the-scenes anecdotes, including a little cattiness — Shaffer calls his time at Forman's house working on the script "going to prison"; Forman says he cast Abraham because the actor's ego made him remarkably like Salieri in real life. Dual-DVD digipak with paperboard slipcase.
—Dawn Taylor

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