Following on from dark Mipdrama thriller “The Winemaker,” Germany’s Goodfriends Filmproduktion, producer of recent HBO Max release “Arthur’s Law,” is re-teaming with Austria’s Satel Film, the company behind Netflix smash hit “Freud,” to produce “Mozart,” a limited series that casts Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in a new and revolutionary light.
Andreas Prochaska, “The Winemaker” director and co-writer, is attached to direct from a screenplay penned by multi-prized Austrian screenwriter Martin Ambrosch.
Ambrosch’s credits include a longterm creative partnership with Prochaska on multiple multi-prized films, which take in the Sam Riley starrer “The Dark Valley,” which swept the Austrian Film Awards in 2015. Ambrosch also wrote “Cold Hell,” directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky, who won a 2008 Academy Award for “The Counterfeiters.”
Director of Sky One’s “Das Boot” and Amazon IMDb TV’s “Alex Rider,” Prochaska won an International Emmy for 2013’s “A Day for a Miracle.”
Film audiences’ image of Mozart the world over has been heavily skewed by Milos Forman’s 1985 Academy Award winner “Amadeus,” which paints him as a musical genius, yes, but also an unconscionable, prattling, obscene nincompoop. But “Amadeus” never made much claim to much historical accuracy.
Goodfriends and Satel’s “Mozart” series will beg to differ. “Set in the absolutist 18th century, we tell a modern story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,” said Goodfriends founder-CEO Moritz von der Groeben.
He added: “It’s not just the story of one of the most important musicians of mankind, but of a rebel and revolutionary who risked his life by openly opposing the nobility and the Emperor, Joseph II.”
“Mozart was deeply affected by the ideas of the Enlightenment as they spread through Europe, climaxing in the French Revolution,” added Satel Film CEO and co-owner Heinrich Ambrosch, who will produce Mozart with von der Groeben.
In Austria, Joseph II initiated reforms in 1780, such as the abolition of serfdom, but these fell far short, with the nobility, after a furious pushback against reform, retaining full ownership of land.
In such a context, Ambrosch argued, there was only one man who could stand up to the nobility and the Emperor, given he was so loved in Austria: Mozart.
As today, where many artists are far more influential than politicians, Mozart had the power to rise above a system.
Widely travelled in Europe, Mozart became a Freemason at the age of 28, Ambrosch said. He remained one all his life, had friends who were Freemasons and composed Masonic music such as the Maurerische Trauermusik. “The Marriage of Figaro,” one of Mozart’s most famous operas, criticizes the aristocracy; Mozart’s love of freedom channels into the libertinism of “Don Giovanni.”
“Modern storytelling in particular would seek not to make a biopic of his life, his steps to greatness, but place it in the political context of his time,” said von der Groeben.
As beholds a more historically accurate take on Mozart, the partners are looking to shoot in German at the original historical locations, when accessible, where much of the action took place.
Structured as a six hour series – on a scale of €15 million ($19 million), von der Groeben said – “Mozart” will form part of a small number of important drama productions that Goodfriends and Satel Film look to produce together as a creative hub or joint venture, said Ambrosch.
A series that attempts to find graphic visual and sound representations for classic Freudian pathologies – trauma, hysteria – “Freud” was watched by 35 million household accounts around the world, making it the third most successful German-language Netflix series to date, after “Dark” and “Barbarians.”
“We aim to produce internationally, find great content, great names, great characters and even great ‘brands’ like Mozart and give them a German-Austrian perspective,” Ambrosch said.
Emiliano Granada contributed to this article.