In Search of Mozart


Wolfgang Amadeus gets lionized—and somewhat embalmed—in this solemn Festschrift by British filmmaker Phil Grabsky. At two hours plus, In Search of Mozart should really be seen in its original format, a television series structured around performances of Mozart’s music (ineffable) and excerpts from his correspondence (lively and flatulent), with narration by actress Juliet Stevenson, she of the mellifluous syllables. Grabsky’s search for visual stimulus occasionally gets a little desperate, as in endless aerial pans over the rooftops of Salzburg, capped by a panicked cutaway from news of Mozart’s marriage, to a couple of contemporary be-jeaned lovebirds holding hands on city streets. The music is divine, but the film sags beneath several tons of expert talking heads. Against this torrent of bombast, it’s refreshing to hear Jonathan Miller, alumnus of Beyond the Fringe turned opera director, vehemently inveigh against the “Glyndebourne view” of Mozart’s famous gassiness. The film sniffs mightily at Milos Forman’s Amadeus, but even if you thought that film over the top and off the wall, you might find yourself wishing for a little more “Volfie” and a little less Saint Wolfgang.