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3.4.4 Supporting characters

Due to the naturalistic requirements of the film medium, the supporting characters, which have been just schematic figures on stage, gain plasticity in the film. Some additional characters are introduced, for example Leopold Mozart, Madame Weber, Emanuel Schikaneder, or the maid Lorl. The introduction and development of those minor parts serves to make the film appear more realistic than the play and some scenes more entertaining. There are, for instance, splendid comic performances by Jeffrey Jones as the "musical king" Emperor Joseph II, and by Patrick Hines as Kapellmeister Bonno. The humorous elements are mostly a contribution of Milos Forman who is known for his ironic approach towards his screen characters.

An important character added in the film is Leopold Mozart. "Mozart's father -- who was nothing but a symbol in the play -- has become a real person, who arrives in the flesh to chastise his self-indulgent son." (Kakutani, 20) The father-son relationship is more fully developed in the film than on stage. Leopold is shown as an overpowering personality who wants to keep total control over his son's life. He is against Mozart's living in Vienna and marrying Constanze, whom he considers common. When he comes to visit his son in his new home, he disapproves of everything he sees, and he nags at the young couple constantly. Finally, when Mozart refuses to return to Salzburg with his father, Leopold has a violent quarrel with Constanze and leaves Vienna. Several months later, he dies in Salzburg without having reconciled with his son. Leopold's grim portrait on the salon wall forever reminds Mozart of their conflict and haunts his conscience. Even after his death, Leopold has not lost his power over Mozart, and he reappears in his operas, first as the vengeful Commendatore in Don Giovanni, then as the forgiving Sarastro in The Magic Flute. Through The Magic Flute, Mozart achieves a spiritual and artistic reconciliation with his father. Despite this, Leopold's final incarnation is the masked messenger of death embodied by Salieri.

The other secondary roles -- Emperor Joseph II, his courtiers and other figures in the music world -- have been "stripped of their stylized mannerisms and given naturalistic lines" (Kakutani, 20). They now appear far more human. An example of this is the comical scene of Mozart's introduction to the Emperor, in which Joseph plays a March of Welcome for Mozart. Struggling through the manuscript, he no longer resembles a dignified ruler, so that Mozart is mistaken and bows to one of the courtiers. The fat, puffing Kapellmeister Bonno with his heavy Italian accent also contributes to this naturalistic effect.

Other characters, including "Mozart's shrill mother-in-law, a maid hired by Salieri to spy on his rival, the Archbishop, and various singers and performers, were totally invented for the movie" (Kakutani, 20) and have important functions in the plot. The Archbishop Colloredo, who is the employer of Mozart and his father in Salzburg, is introduced in order to show the servant status of an eighteenth-century musician and Mozart's insubordination. The maid Lorl serves as a replacement for the Venticelli, providing information on Mozart's private affairs, which would not be available to Salieri otherwise. She is also the only one who cries openly at Mozart's funeral, which is perhaps a symbol of Mozart's popularity with the common people, who are happily singing the melodious tunes from Mozart's operas in Schikaneder's vaudeville theatre. Emanuel Schikaneder provides the inspiration for The Magic Flute in place of the Masons, who are not mentioned in the film. Father Vogler, the young priest to whom Salieri is confessing, takes over the role of the theatre audience, because the audience in a cinema is much too impersonal to participate in the drama. He is much younger than Salieri, and so inexperienced that he can easily be classified as a mediocrity in his profession. This ensures the necessary premise for Salieri's confession. Those characters are necessary to replace theatrical devices with cine-matic ones and to give the film a solid body.

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