What happened at the end of Amadeus?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The ending to Forman's film is not the most optimistic of endings.  As the film concludes, Salieri works Mozart to his very end with the composition of the Requiem.  Given his own exhaustion, Salieri takes a moment's rest, during which time Mozart's wife and child return home. Salieri is taken aback by her arrival and even more put off when she banishes him from the home. Upon seeking her husband's confirmation of her actions, Constanze realizes that he is dead.  Salieri looks upon the dead genius with a sense of hollow accomplishment because the death mass remains incomplete.

The film then moves to Mozart's sparsely attended funeral.  Seeing that he was destitute at the end of his life, he was unable to have a funeral befitting his musical talent.  He has a pauper's funeral, with his coffin carried outside of city limits.  A few members of the Emperor's court attend.  Salieri is there, watching his creation drift out of visible range.  The film shows Mozart's corpse being dumped in a mass grave, with a Christian death incantation delivered in a banal manner.  The final chords of the Requiem are heard over a cold shot of Mozart's corpse lying with other unnamed and unclaimed bodies.

The final scene involves present day Salieri laughing at an exasperated priest, who had not bargained for all of this.  The priest's look of shock is only matched with Salieri sardonically noting God's cruelty: "He killed Mozart, and kept me alive to torture."  Salieri argues that he had to watch his music grow extinct, while Mozart's music would live on as the very definition of artistic genius.  As Salieri is taken out of his room for breakfast, he comments to the father that he will be "the patron saint" for all mediocrity, those who lack talent.  He repeats this to the inmates of the mental asylum, chained to walls and locked in boxes.  As Salieri embraces his new role, he hears Mozart's cackle as the film concludes. 

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