The play and the film versions of Amadeus have been conceived on several levels. The title is Mozart's middle name and means literally "beloved of God", but it covers many symbolic meanings. The simplest interpretation of the name Amadeus is that it stands for Mozart, God's chosen instrument and thus his "beloved" one. Another interpretation is to read the name as "lover of God", which would mean Salieri rather than Mozart. Thus, "the title ironically doubles back to reflect Salieri's situation" (Gianakaris 1982, 51), the situation of a man who loves his god, but decides to destroy him. Salieri's real god, however, is music, and therefore the title comes to mean "lover of music" as well.
The transfer of the drama from stage to screen was a difficult enterprise, because it was necessary to "translate" Shaffer's elaborate theatrical language into cinematic means of expression. Therefore, the overall structure of the drama had to be changed, which required not only the rewriting of existing scenes, but also the invention of new scenes and characters. However, Milos Forman's experience in adapting literary works for the cinema and his willingness to co-operate closely with Peter Shaffer resulted in a successful adaptation.
What survives all criticism, and what is central to Amadeus, is not Mozart's mischief or Salieri's scheming, but the music that dominates the film in a way not possible in the stage version. Unfettered by the three walls of a stage, Milos Forman and Peter Shaffer expanded Amadeus in space and scope to recreate impressively the musical world of Mozart.
What we are left with are two Amadeuses, each powerful in its own way, the play more confrontational to the audience, the film more powerful in its over-all storytelling, each a solid accomplishment. (Deemer)