Richard’s Year of Movies — Amadeus
February 16, 2010 1 Comment
There’s a scene towards the end of Amadeus where Mozart, very near his death, dictates the score of his Requiem to Salieri, who struggles to understand what it is he’s writing down. And then you see the moment where he gets it, where he sees exactly what Mozart is going for, and you can see the awe and jealousy simultaneously wash over him. “This is good; and damn you for being able to do it.”
It’s a scene that resonates with anyone who’s ever tried anything creative. I’m not much more than a dabbler at this writing thing right now, but some days, I feel like I’m Mozart, with the ideas just spilling out and practically dropping themselves on the page. Other days, I’m Salieri, struggling to get even a paragraph down, wondering why I’ve been cursed with an idea I can’t get on the page the way I imagine it.
And not a day goes by where I don’t wonder if in fact I’m destined to be Salieri in general, tossing off perfectly acceptable pieces that provide fleeting enjoyment but that will simply be a footnote to all the Mozarts out there. If I’m just a competent craftsman playing with the tools a master could shape into something lasting.
I think anyone creative goes through that process, of questioning their artistic validity. I guess it comes down to a test of will: paralyze yourself with doubt and jealousy, or pour everything you have into it and let the world be your judge. And maybe the key to being an artist is the willingness to take that leap, for better or for worse.
Then again, is it better art if it comes easily to the artist than if they have to struggle to produce it? Sure, I get a rush when the words just flow onto the page, but sometimes it’s a greater thrill when I sweat and toil with something and finally get it right.
In the end, I guess it comes down to balance. It’s about not getting too full of yourself when it comes easily, and not getting too down on yourself when it comes with more difficulty. That way the highs aren’t so high that the fall kills you, and the lows aren’t so low that the peak looks insurmountable.
Of course, as the film ends, Mozart is dead and Salieri is insane. Here’s hoping I don’t follow their examples too closely.