Mozart (a.k.a., Life and Loves of Mozart) (1956)
Director: Karl Hartl.
Starring: Oskar Werner (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), Johanna Matz (Annie Gottlieb), Erich Kunz (Emanuel Schikaneder), Gertrud KŁckelmann (Constanze Mozart), Nadja Tiller (Louise Weber Lange), Annie Rosar (Frau Weber), Hugo Gottschlich (Don Primus), Angelika Hauff (Suzi Gerl), Albin Skoda (Antonio Salieri, Hofkompositeur).
Mozart and his wife, his former mistress and his new mistress
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
Four men discuss Mozart. One of them says that Mozart is one of the most eminent composers they have. Another says as a child he showed great promise, but he is not as good as and he lists a number of names. A woman listens to their conversation. Mozart comes rushing into the store. He brings two string quartets, one to be copied and the other to pay for the wedding. The men in the store criticize him by saying he canít even pay for the copying of his own music. The woman, named Annie, gets angry and scolds them for their criticisms. She asks what do they know of Mozart? She says from now on she will buy her music elsewhere.
Mozart calls out to his wife Constanze to wait for him. He was at Hoffmeisterís to have some music copied to give to the landlord. She has to tell him to be serious since he is bobbing up and down while he is talking to her.
His Excellency wants to know what is keeping Salieri? He wanted to have a talk with him. Salieri makes his appearance. Meanwhile, Mozart starts playing the piano outside the room. One of the men setting up the room for the concert says that he remembers Mozart as a child when he asked the Arch Duchess Marie Antoinette to marry him. Mozart laughs and says nothing came of it in the end.
His Excellency still has bad memories of the performance of Mozartís Figaro. Whenever he hears a certain tune from it he takes it as a personal insult. His Excellency has called Salieri in to asks him about the Bohemian courtís request that Mozart write an opera for an official celebration coming up. Mozart has certain revolutionary tendencies, but, on the other hand, he must be sure not to offend the Bohemian court. Salieri tells His Excellency to give the assignment to Mozart but put a muzzle on him. Mozart will, of course, refuse the assignment, leaving His Excellency off the hook.
His Excellency becomes upset with Mozart for continuing to play instead of quietly waiting for his turn to be seen. Mozart says to one of the men in the room that he know it is not the correct etiquette, but he was never strong in etiquette anyway.
Mozart comes in. He asks that he might go to Prague to compose the opera. He is unexpectedly compliant saying that His Excellency can give him the libretto and he will set it to music. He agrees that the accompaniment should not be too heavy. He even accepts working under Salieri. Mozart says he needs money. He has a wife that is not well and a child. He is paid too little as court composer. He has tried to get other employment but has failed. He cannot imagine what is the matter. His Excellency says that itís because he is unreliable and arrogant. And, no, he cannot say just what he thinks when he depends on the generosity of others. Mozart says he is not treated with the respect he deserves for his talent. Often he has to wait in the antechamber with hairdressers and milliners.
Mother comes to visit Constanze and has brought along her daughter Louise Weber Lange and Constanzeís two other sisters. On his way home Mozart is grabbed and told that he has company. To avoid seeing his mother-in-law, Mozart takes off. One sister says that Louise has come to try to turn Mozartís head. Mother says that Louise is now a married woman and she wonít stand any more impertinence from her other daughters.
Mozart is playing billiards. He talks to himself acting out a different scenario with His Excellency than the one that actually occurred. He has come to see Emanuel Schikaneder. Schikaneder has a libretto called The Magic Flute ready and has asked Mozart many times to write the music. Now Mozart is interested. Schikaneder gives Mozart a cash advance.
Now Mozart can send his wife to a spa to get treatment for her bad foot. Before she leaves she wants Mozart to promise he wonít see Louise, as she is just waiting for her (Constanze) to leave. He either promises or she wonít go. Mozart promises adding that it is silly now for Louise is a married woman and he is happy with his Constanze.
Schikaneder introduces the opera company to Mozart. Different singers sing their parts from the opera. Annie Gottlieb comes in late. Mozart is very taken with her and he plays her accompaniment. The composer even walks her home. They talk about the opera and what it means.
Mozart rehearses with the company using a full orchestra and the stage. At the end Mozart asks for a solo performance with Annie alone. Everybody else leaves and waits outside. She has trouble singing. Mozart asks her if anything is worrying her. She says both of them know what is bothering her. He ignores the comment. He tells her to do what he does, donít think about it.
Mozart needs more money and has to go to the pawnbroker again. A strange man dressed all in black comes to Mozartís place while he is out. He tells the servant that he will wait for the composer. Mozart arrives shortly and his servant tells him he thinks the stranger has come about a commission. Mozart talks to the man who confirms he wants to talk about a commission. He wants a requiem mass. The man will not give Mozart his name but says he will pay him well. He wants the mass finished within three months at the latest. The man leaves.
Mozart is ecstatic about getting his hands on 50 ducats. He will send money to Constanze at the spa. The company goes on a picnic on a high mountain. Mozart presents Schikaneder with a new love song for the opera. The lyricist rushes off to have Annie sing it with him. When they finish they receive no applause. The company doesnít want to rehearse on a picnic outing. Mozart dances with Annie. They are so lost in each other that everyone else stops dancing and then Schikaneder has the music stopped and yet they keep dancing. Realizing that everyone is staring at them, Mozart stops and everyone has a good laugh
Mozart and Annie hide while, after the count to 50, the others seek them. Mozart helps Annie climb high into a tall tree. She tells Mozart she will not sing because she canít. She wants to leave the company. But Mozart says he wonít let her go, that he needs her. She is in every note that he writes. They kiss.
The company rehearses. Louise learns about the gossip about Mozart and Annie. She says that Mozartís affairs never last long. Annieís father comes to pay her a visit with a famous impresario. Schikaneder tells Mozart that the impresario wants to take Annie with him to Italy. It could be the making of her career. They will tour for over a year and she will become a star all over Europe.
Annie tells her father that she cannot leave now. She canít just leave Mozart in the lurch like this. Father says thatís exactly the reason why she will go on this tour. He will speak with Herr Mozart. Annie says she will talk to Mozart herself.
Louise surprises Mozart with a visit. She says: "A new opera, a new love affair." And she says she understands. He needs a muse so he must have a new love to inspire his most beautiful melodies. Mozart says Louise left him, but she replies that he would have left her if she had not left him first. She says she has come to get a new aria from him. His arias are always the most successful ones for her on her tours. Mozart says he will write her one and she gives him a long kiss. She leaves.
Annie comes to speak with Mozart. He tells her that he heard the news and of course she must go. She begs him not to send her away now. She wants to stay with him. He says he wants her to obey her father. Very dejected, she leaves.
Schikaneder is angry at Mozart for disappearing for two days. Annie comes looking for Mozart to give him a note she wrote. He has been out for quite some time. Then he comes home. Annie hides from him. He sings a new piece of music. He takes the note for him from his servant and reads it. He suddenly leaves. Speaking to Annie, the servants refers to him as "that poor man."
Annie talks with Mozartís doctor. She feels he is keeping something terrible from her. The doctor tries to cover his tracks. He tells her when she comes back in a year he will be better. Annie rushes into a church. Her father comes in and she tells him that she cannot leave. She knows that Mozart needs her. If she leaves him now, she will never see him again. Dad tells her either she goes on tour or he will never speak to her again. Mother comes in to talk with Annie. They embrace.
Mozart works on the requiem mass, but is having a hard time. He seems exhausted. He rereads Annieís note. He says to himself: "I sent her away because I am a coward. And yet she wanted to stay." His host says a young woman is coming. It's Annie. She is exhausted from walking up the mountain. Mozart runs to her and they embrace.
Annie walked all the way from Vienna on foot. Mozart is so happy that he hugs his host. He says now he can go back to work on The Magic Flute. The happy couple lounge on the grass outside. He talks about having big plans for the year. He runs back to the cottage and declares heís the winner, but he promptly collapses. Mozart is brought up to the house. Mozart says this is a warning. He tells his host that she came to him because she knew he was dying. He has the host go get Annie. She arrives and he tells her to come in and she can help him with his aria.
Schikaneder is mad again. Mozart is not at the rehearsals. But one of the performers finds some music Mozart had in his office. Mozart and Annie show up during rehearsal. Mozartís assistant distributes the parts Mozart has recently finished. Annieís father comes into the rehearsal. His daughter sings on stage. She thinks about her memories of Mozart. When she finishes she runs over to hug her father.
Constanze has returned. Mozart goes home. The servant tells Mozartís assistant that the strange man came again to ask if the requiem mass is finished. He said that there is very little time left. He will be back in a day or two. Mozart embraces Constanze. Her foot is much better. But she can tell that her husband has been sick. He dismisses the idea. Constanze tells Mozart that both her mother and one of her sisters wrote to her about Annie. She says she was mad, but then realized that her composer canít find his muse in her, so she is satisfied with what is left for her. He hugs her and tells her they will always be together. She is happy to hear that.
December 5, 1791. His latest opera is performed. The actors take their bows. Annie and Schikaneder go to Mozartís home. The servant tells her that she is too late. Mozart has died. Constrnze sits by his side. Constanze is brought downstairs. When sister Sophie sees Annie she scolds her for coming. Constanze stops Sophie. She tells Annie that her husband told her about her (Annie) and if she wishes she can go upstairs. Constanze leaves and Annie goes upstairs.
The day of the funeral is windy and bitterly cold. The members of the procession start dropping off one by one. Annie stops under an overpass, but then keeps going. The funeral wagon gets stuck in the mud. Annie drops out for good this time.
The opera goes on. Annie shows up. Schikaneder comes to see her to tell her that they can use a substitute if she doesnít feel up to performing. But she says she will perform.
The DVD movie quality was not that great, but the movie itself was interesting. Oskar Werner as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart did a good job. He wasn't as manic as the Mozart played by Thomas Hulce in the other, more recent film about Mozart. His last mistress was a young woman, pure, naive and idealistic. She was a good muse for Mozart. And his wife Constanze stayed with him, despite his dalliances, for the sake of his music.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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