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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: January ::
Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0015  Monday, 3 January 2005

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Sunday, 02 Jan 2005 11:47:50 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0010 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

[2]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Sunday, 2 Jan 2005 23:14:23 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0010 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Sunday, 02 Jan 2005 11:47:50 -0500
Subject: 16.0010 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0010 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

The Radford M/V is better cinema than "Ocean's Twelve"; but I prefer
William Shakespeare's version of the story.

Radford has cut to play to about one-half to three-fifths of its length,
by my quick guesstimate.  He loses a lot of the fun -- e.g., Portia's
evaluation of her suitors in I.ii; Shylock's Old Testament defense of
thrift; the slapstick between Launcelot and Old Gobbo; and the lyric but
ironic pas de deux between Jessica and Lorenzo at the beginning of Act
V, to name just some that come to mind quickly.

What remains after this butchery has been rendered more politically
correct or just dumbed down.  Portia expresses no preference for suitors
who do not share Morocco's complexion.  Shylock believes that Antonio is
"of good credit" rather than "sufficient."  And, most appalling of all,
the truism that "all that glisters is not gold" has been transmuted to
"all that glistens," presumably because most people get it wrong anyway.
  I suppose we can now expect King John to gild the lily.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Sunday, 2 Jan 2005 23:14:23 -0000
Subject: 16.0010 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0010 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

Unlike a number on this list, I HAVE actually seen the film!!

And, yes, Pacino does indeed wipe the cobblestones with the rest of the
cast - except perhaps Irons who has some dignity in resignation. Pacino
is timing, quizzical, brilliant in the early bargaining scene over the
exact bond, underplays the Jew with consummate screen technique, and is
simply effortlessly interesting and complex, with something very real to
say.

[a] there is NO pogrom: it is hustle and bustle on the Rialto, Jew and
Christian - not unlike clips of the NY stock Exchange in rush hour. So
OK it's edgy? So? When isn't a stock exchange frantic and edgy?

[b] keep a careful eye on the supporting Jewish friends of Shylock -
they are increasingly uncomfortable with his intensity and vengeful
obstinacy. They try to restrain him in a very under-stated way.

[c] Lyn Collins is pathetic as Portia, but she and the smirking,
shallow, untroubled, no-depth Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes) absolutely
deserve each other. Oleaginous and miserable.

[d] Radford's pace in the final eight or so minutes is inexplicably
funereal, where it should, be funny and fast. BUT this does have the
effect of pointing up what a mess the play's structure is - IF you think
the play is only about Shylock - which, of course, it isn't.

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