Tea in the Movies — “Amadeus”

Hollywood (translation: people who make movies with the primary intention of earning big bucks) tends to portray tea in a less than favorable light. A good example is from the award-winning (but not for tea) movie “Amadeus.”

Even Emperor Joseph II of Austria would have opted for tea when served from this regal teapot. (Photo source: The English Tea Store)
Even Emperor Joseph II of Austria would have opted for tea when served from this regal teapot. (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

First, this movie is pure drama with a pinch of reality thrown in here and there. There really was a Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. There really was an Italian composer named Antonio Salieri. From there the movie takes the fiction fork in the road, leaving the fact fork far behind. Setting such artistic license aside, we get to the big “tea scene” in the movie.

Picture this: “Wolfie” has, with the blessing of his patron and monarch Emperor Joseph II (known as the musical king), married his landlady’s daughter named Constanze (“Stanzie”) Weber. Papa Mozart is not pleased and rushes from Salzburg where he lives to Vienna where his son lives. He shows up at the apartment to find it less than pristine, his son just getting home from a night of hanging out with musical friends, and “Stanzie” still in bed. Embarrassed, “Wolfie” admonishes his wife that it’s time to get up. She comes out of the bedroom, still disheveled, and offers Papa Mozart some tea. Now, here comes that sly Hollywood zinger:

Constanze: [to Mozart’s father] May I offer you some tea, Herr Mozart?
Wolfgang: Tea? Who wants tea? Let’s go out! This calls for a feast. You don’t want tea, do you, Papa?
Constanze: Wolfie…
Wolfgang: I know, let’s go dancing! Papa loves parties, don’t you?
Constanze: Wolfie!
Wolfgang: What? How can you be so boring? Tea…

Oh yeah?

I realize this scene is intended to show that “Wolfie” was a bit loose with his money, something that was reiterated in a later scene, and that he liked to enjoy life to the fullest. However, to denigrate tea by in essence saying that tea drinking was boring is unworthy of such a musical genius. But it is fairly typical of Hollywood. Tea is portrayed at once as the magic cure-all and the beverage of choice of those whose personalities are several levels below milquetoast.

Hollywood is way off the mark there. The personalities of tea folk I have met are far from such limpness. They are bright, energetic, even sparkling. They are strongly opinionated, stand up for their beliefs, and otherwise exhibit what is commonly called “hutzpah”!

While the movie itself is overall entertaining, despite its only marginal relationship to reality, don’t let it leave you with this downer impression of us tea drinkers. We are, contrary to Hollywood’s casting of us, quite the lively bunch. Hooray!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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