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Mozart's Enduring Presence in Film and Television

4 May 2022
Masetto, carried on shoulders, on his wedding day

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart remains one of the finest composers of all time; his influence and stature unchanged in the 200 years since his death. Tchaikovsky compared Mozart to the musical Christ and said that his work 'the culminating point of all beauty in the sphere of music.'

While we’ve spoken about Mozart’s music in the movies before, we’re back with even more film and television where you’ll hear the composer’s work. 

Popularly known as The Turkish March, the spritely melody of Rondo Alla Turca can be heard coming from the radio of Truman Burbank in the 1998 film The Truman Show. The playful tune highlights our protagonist’s unsuspecting nature as he drives to work on the reality tv show that’s been built around him.

The 2010 film The King’s Speech contains the clarinet concerto from one of our favourite operas, The Marriage of Figaro. The film about the stuttering King isn’t Mozart’s only connection to the royal family – Netflix’s The Crown uses the imposing Requiem in D minor: Lacrimosa Dies Illa during the funeral of Princess Cecilie, Prince Philip’s older sister. 

Fans of BBC’s Peaky Blinders will also recognise Lacrimosa from the opening shots of the series’ recent finale, as Michael Gray leaves Norfolk Prison in Boston, intent on killing Tommy Shelby to avenge his mother’s death.

Mozart’s Requiem is a popular choice within film soundtracks, often used to create an ominous feeling of dread through the music’s score. The portion titled Rex Tremondae features in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, as we experience Tom Cruise’s character in despair as he learns of the death of the character Mandy, who sacrifices herself to save him.

In X-Men 2, Mozart’s Sequentia, Dies Irae accentuates the teleporting mutant Nightcrawler’s infiltration of the White House. Shown in slow motion, the music heightens the feeling of inevitability as the character forces his way through the security protecting the president. Used again to highlight the feeling of helplessness, Sequentia, Dies Irae dominates the scene as Patrick Wilson’s character Nite Owl accepts the inevitability of his position at the climax of Watchmen’s story: Were he to ever expose the truth that resulted in the death of millions of New Yorkers, that their unwitting sacrifice would be rendered pointless. 

It's hard to imagine Mozart’s work diminishing in popularity any time soon, and we can’t wait to see how his music is used in future film and television programmes. If you’re craving some Mozart before then, come and see our production of Don Giovanni, currently on tour.