Sir Peter Shaffer said of his play Amadeus (and the screenplay for the 1984 motion picture), "[Amadeus is] a fantasia based on fact. It is not a screen biography of Mozart, and was never intended to be." In this post, I recall some scenes from the film and compare them to facts of the composer's life. Fact means, "the movie had this in it", Fiction means, "the movie either made this up, or changed it slightly".
Fiction - After the premier of Die Entführung aus dem Serial, Mozart refers to his future mother-in-law, Frau Weber, as "my landlady". In reality, Mozart had been asked to leave the Weber boarding house 9 months before the opera's premier. (See Life.)
Fact - Mozart did not get along with the Archbishop of Salzburg. The Archbishop mistreated him and eventually dismissed him.
Fact/Fiction - Mozart married Constanze before his father's consent letter arrived in the mail. However, the movie makes it appear as if Leopold never consented to the marriage. Leopold was always somewhat cool toward Constanze, but he did consent to the marriage.
Fiction - Although it would be foolish to say that a proud Austrian such as Mozart didn't enjoy alcoholic beverages, he certainly wasn't an alcoholic, as the movie portrays him to be near the end of his life. His favorite drink was punch, which his friends said he drank in large quantities.
Fiction - Shortly before his death, Mozart slipped into unconsciousness and never awoke. This means that he probably died with his eyes closed, not open.
Fact - Salieri and his co-workers did work secretly to make Le Nozze di Figaro a failure. They asked the performers to request impossible alterations on their parts, infuriating Mozart to the point of threatening to withdraw the entire opera. The Emporer Joseph II stepped in, then, and ordered that everything return to how it was. The performers ended up liking their parts and the opera was a success until a new Salieri opera overshadowed it. As the movie mentions, the opera was withdrawn after only nine performances.
Fiction - Salieri did not kill Mozart, and it was not he who came to Mozart's door commissioning a Requiem Mass. In reality, the mysterious visitor was a messenger of the young Count Walsegg, who liked to commission pieces and pass them off as his own.
Fact - Mozart loved billiards. In the movie there are many instances where he is playing or writing music at his billiards table. Mozart's good friend, tenor Michael Kelly, mentioned in his memoirs that he enjoyed countless games of billiards with him, and never won.
Fiction - Mozart had not one child, but six. Unfortunately, only two survived to adulthood, Karl Thomas and Franz Xaver Wolfgang.
Fiction - Salieri was not with Mozart when he died. Present during Mozart's last hours on earth were his wife Constanze, her sister Sophie and his doctor.
Fiction - Constanze did not attend Mozart's funeral, which was held two days after his death, as she was too distraught.
Fiction - Mozart did not call Constanze "Stanzi", but "Stanzerl".
Fiction - As funny as it was in the movie, the Queen of Night aria in Die Zauberflöte was not inspired by Mozart's mother-in-law!