More sadness: Milos Forman has died

More sadness: Milos Forman has died


norman lebrecht

April 15, 2018

The great Czech film director, makes of Amadeus, has died at 86.

After losing both parents under German occupation, he emerged as a leader of the 1960s Czech New Wave – Loves of a Blonde; The Firemen’s Ball – until leaving the country in 1968.

In Hollywood, he won Oscars for Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.



  • Pianofortissimo says:

    A great film director, despite his “Amadeus”.


  • ketzel says:

    Awful film for philistines. It was disrespectful to three great men. The real story was much more interesting.

    • Bogda says:

      Are you even aware that it’s not a biopic but a filmed version of a play?

      • ketzel says:

        Yes, but no one forced them to slavishly copy the vulgarity and stupidity of the play.

        • Sue says:

          Arguably the greatest words about music ever written for a performance medium. Spectacularly beautiful writing, wonderful acting. F. Murray Abraham; who’ll ever forget his Salieri. Tom Hulce was good as Mozart, despite the American accent. That final scene where he’s dictating the Requiem; splendid acting from both. (Hulce had an earpiece telling him how to follow the rhythms in that scene.) I loved the film but, ironically, am only lukewarm (bored) these days with much of Mozart’s music. But for a while the film breathed life into that composer’s music for me.

          • Bruce says:

            I knew a lot of Mozart before seeing that movie, but I did not know the piano concerto K482 (#22) in E-flat. Hearing the last movement of that piece always brings back the scene where he’s playing & conducting it at some country house.

            Such a beautiful movie.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Another sorrowful death. I’ll take “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” anyday over and above “Amadeus” which I thought was a farce.

  • David R Osborne says:

    Amadeus was a great work of fiction and tells important truths about the nature of creative jealousy, and the way establishments work to suppress unique genius . The director’s cut however is awful.

  • Ross Amico says:

    “Amadeus” was meant to be entertainment, folks. If you have problems with the film’s historical accuracy, you may as well go after Pushkin while you’re at it. Who, beyond the anointed few, would have even heard of Antonio Salieri if not for Peter Shaffer (and, by extension, Forman)? Not everything has to be Hermann Abert, you know.

    That said, “Cuckoo’s Nest” was definitely the more powerful film. To understand what really could have gone wrong with “Amadeus,” watch “Goya’s Ghosts.” The masses may be asses, but there is no sin in making an opulent classical music semi-historical drama that actually captures the imagination of the wider public.

    • Sue says:

      Brilliant comments. But I liked “Amadeus” far more than “Cuckoo’s Nest”. I felt that was Nicholson high camp, to be honest.

      • Ross Amico says:

        For all its shenanigans, “Cuckoo’s Nest” is actually a very serious film. I’m not sure it would have been quite the same without Nicholson (it was originally developed for Kirk Douglas), but I expect it would have been just as powerful without him. There’s no way they could have done without Will Sampson, though.

        • Sue says:

          I am intelligent enough to realize it’s a serious film, but the Nicholson schtick meant that the film was all about him; that’s what I’m saying. There are plenty of other good actors who could have played the role – even less well known ones – and I wouldn’t think of “Terms of Endearment” or “As Good as It Gets” whenever I watch it.

          • Ross Amico says:

            To take the tack you did elsewhere in this comments thread (“show me where I used those words”), in no place did I say or suggest you weren’t intelligent. I was not looking to stir controversy. That said, Nicholson was still a few years away from “The Shining” (1980), which, for me, was when he truly jumped the shark. From there, it was but a hop, skip, and a jump to “The Witches of Eastwick” and “Batman.” “Cuckoo’s Nest” is still the Nicholson of “Five Easy Pieces” — which is to say the Nicholson of greatness. His characterizations are driven by counter-cultural rage, as opposed to the “camp” you rightly attribute to some of his later performances. These are personal assessments, and equally as valid as yours without attacking your intelligence.

  • Herr Doktor says:

    My condolences to all his family, friends, and loved ones. He was a real artist.

    Notwithstanding all the comments above, the film he made that has truly stayed with me, that impressed me more than the others, is Ragtime.

  • Nick2 says:

    It seems only a couple of posters above accept that Forman was not making a documentary about Mozart. He was making a film from Peter Schaffer’s fictional stage play based on some facts. In that regard, he succeeded extremely well! To change what Schaffer had written would have required Schaffer’s permission. Given the massive popularity of the play, I doubt that would have been given!

    Let’s not forget Neville Mariner’s contribution to the play and the movie, not only in his choice of the musical excerpts but more especially in not accepting a fee for the Academy’s participation. Through his insistence on royalties instead of a flat fee along with the huge success of the soundtrack album, he secured the Academy’s future.

  • M2N2K says:

    Both OFOTCN and Amadeus are wonderful films. And he made a few other very good ones including – since this is a music-related blog – Hair (when movie musicals were rare and not in fashion).