Friday, February 12, 2010

The 9 Most Influential Films of My Life: #2

Leave me alone.  
I cannot leave alone a soul in pain.
Do you know who I am?
It makes no difference. All men are equal in God's eyes. 
 Are they? ... Are they?
Smoldering in its extravagant exoskeleton, under those ridiculous wigs, lies the devil.  The genius of "Amadeus" is that it does an excellent job of pretending to be a period drama, while it really is nothing short of a horror blazed on film.

As I stood there understanding how that bitter old man was still possessing his poor son even from beyond the grave, I began to see a terrible way I could finally triumph over God.

Our protagonist is not the obnoxiously rude Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but the hard working, professional composer, Antonio Salieri.  A moving moment in the first act of the film shows an aged Salieri playing his most famous bits of music to a Priest who is present only to hear the old man's confession.  The Priest doesn't recognize any of Salieri's works.  His music is dying with him.  Soon no one will ever listen to the works of Antonio Salieri.  His efforts at immortality have failed.  And yet, the second he pounds a few chords on the piano of Mozart, the Priest lights up with recognition.

The name Amadeus is the latin form of the Greek Theophilus, which translates to "Beloved of God".  Mozart is Amadeus, Salieri is not.  And so the awful game of jealousy commences.

This film terrifies me because the world it envisions is an utterly tragic kingdom.  I mentioned in my last post (#3 on the countdown) that our world is broken.  Well, that's still true, but the good news is that it is in the process of being redeemed.  Our God is a good and just God.  He will save us who cry out, and perfect our broken souls.  But in "Amadeus" lies the most vile of ideas; an idea whose presence mocks all of creation if it be true.  It is a perilous journey to look down that path, but when we do, we are brought to places that have smashed souls to bits.  What if God is not good?

Lord, make me a great composer. Let me celebrate Your glory through music and be celebrated myself. Make me famous through the world, dear God. Make me immortal. After I die, let people speak my name forever with love for what I wrote. In return, I will give You my chastity, my industry, my deepest humility, every hour of my life, Amen. 

Once I prayed from a dark place.  I waited there, and when the Lord did not come to comfort me, a choice came in my mind.  'God doesn't love me, for if he did, he would comfort his sorrowful child in his suffering.  If He is my Father, then why does He not come to help his helpless child?  So God must either not exist or be against me.'  "Amadeus" continues this reasoning further: 'God is against me, so I will be against God.'

[addressing a crucifix]
Salieri: From now on we are enemies, You and I. Because You choose for Your instrument a boastful, lustful, smutty, infantile boy and give me for reward only the ability to recognize the incarnation. Because You are unjust, unfair, unkind, I will block You, I swear it. I will hinder and harm Your creature on earth as far as I am able.  

Ever quickly the stakes are raised.  Before the film concludes we are forced to watch, through breathtakingly beautiful music, the near ascension of a man to god.  Salieri becomes the greatest of all  adversaries: the devil incarnate, set to destroy God's work.

 Imagine it, the cathedral, all Vienna sitting there, his coffin, Mozart's little coffin in the middle, and then, in that silence, music! A divine music bursts out over them all. A great mass of death! Requiem mass for Wolfgang Mozart, composed by his devoted friend, Antonio Salieri! Oh what sublimity, what depth, what passion in the music! Salieri has been touched by God at last. And God is forced to listen! Powerless, powerless to stop it! I, for once in the end, laughing at him!

Living through "Amadeus" can be a fire walk.  Be careful how close you get to those flames.  As for me, I've peered into those depths.  My hairs have been burnt by that flame.  I am wiser for it. 

God is alive, and He knows us.  So why not wrestle with Him?  Ask yourself those horrifically difficult questions.  I, like Salieri, often feel like a mediocrity.  I too can be that patron saint.  I am smart, but not brilliant.  My reflection is fair, but not beautiful.  I am verbose, but my words are not elegant.  I am quirky, but not wholly unique.  I analyze my own plans night and day, but am inconsiderate to the dreams of others.  My sense of humor isn't as awesome as I want it to be.  My hairline is receding.  My mind is forgetful of pretty much everything.  I love, but am not loved in return.  I am loved, but I do not love in return.  Why is it this way?  Of all the worlds He could have created, why did God create this one?

The horror of "Amadeus" is perfect in its despair.  Sinners, I urge you, let us ask the dark questions of God, while remembering that He is God, and we are not.  

All I wanted was to sing to God. He gave me that longing... and then made me mute. Why? Tell me that. If He didn't want me to praise him with music, why implant the desire? Like a lust in my body! And then deny me the talent?

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