Framing an Interdisciplinary Approach to Film: Teaching Amadeus

Nancy Rachel November, Brenda Allen


This article discusses a collaboration between two teachers, from Music History and Film Studies, respectively. We sought to develop a literacy skill that is highly relevant to today’s undergraduates: the ability to read popular and visual media critically, using Miloš Forman and Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. We observed that Music History students tended to underestimate their abilities to read and talk about visual aspects of the film. However, they tended to overestimate their abilities to understand how music is used in film in service of characterisation and myth making. In this paper, we offer guidelines on how to ‘correct’ this imbalance. We set up a framework for interdisciplinary understanding of film through a discussion of of ‘crux points’—concepts that are likely to be tricky for students (and teachers if they are not from Film Studies). Each point is illustrated with examples from Amadeus. We then consider how best to enable students to think more consciously about what they are doing when they view and hear film, in order that they develop not only a more critical approach to biopics, but also a greater understanding of their own learning modes and preferences.


Literacy, Film, Amadeus, Pedagogy, Interdisciplinary Studies, Musicology

Full Text:


ISSN 2155-109X