Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: January ::
Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0023  Wednesday, 5 January 2005

[1]     From:   Bob Rosen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Jan 2005 11:43:28 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0019  Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

[2]     From:   JD Markel <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Jan 2005 13:22:08 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0019 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Rosen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 4 Jan 2005 11:43:28 EST
Subject: 16.0019  Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0019  Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

 >And the devil in Morality and Miracle plays was
 >always grotesque in appearance including having ... yes, a "bubble nose."

Melvyn,

I assume even the original company might have initially played The
Merchant your way, but I think they thought better of it the second time
around in spite of themselves. It's very difficult to defeat the
language and the range of fine actors. Whatever WS might have intended.

Bob Rosen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           JD Markel <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 4 Jan 2005 13:22:08 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 16.0019 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0019 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

I enjoyed the film.  Below I give some opinions because I would like to
read other views on them, especially how you might perform the play the
same or differently than Mr. Radford.

Cuts are needed for the film medium but so much of the script was cut.
Given the film's laconic pace I thought more text could be retained -
and so much verbiage was off-script, especially after the trial scene.

The negotiating of the bond scene was interesting in its realistic
attempt to portray the dynamics of a business deal.  The matter of the
rings was well directed too.

Radford has Lorenzo speak to Jessica not from a street but a gondola.
This made for some new laughs about sinking the boat.

Added is a scene where Shylock is feasting with Bassanio and his crew.
Not in the play but it allowed Pacino to give some good harsh glares at
the prodigal Venetians.  Not in the play too was the Jewish ghetto but
that worked well on many levels, and the film medium made it possible.

The dish of doves proffered by Old Gobbo has perplexed many - just what
is it?  What does it mean?  I think Radford was similarly perplexed and
had Bassanio reflect it with an acted quizzical observation of the
"dish."  An inside joke perhaps.  And it was some dish!

The introductory comments about usury in Venice were wrong.  A reviewer
wrote that the introduction was an attempt to contextualize the play.  A
better contextualization would have said the Jews as usurers theme was
passe at the time, usury was well accepted in England save for some
religious and outspoken prigs, and both Shakespeare and his father were
usurers.

Portia is beautiful and has a beautiful voice.  Probably contrary to
what Shakespeare intended, but her beard, what was it slacker/grunge?

The director deproblematizes Portia with some unique additions.  In the
original Portia lies about the "laws" she uses as her "device" to
contain and defeat Shylock.  This is cut.  In its place is a montage
where she meets Bellario and representations the law she recites is
actual - we see the two review law books.  Similarly the lack of
solemnization before consummation of Portia's and Nerissa's "marriages"
was obviated.  The director gives the women church weddings in a dreamy
montage!   The pro-Portia interpretation was supported with numerous
other cuts, including her insult to Morocco about his skin.

Morocco was my favorite, funniest and true to the script.  Aragon had
potential but...is/was there an English stereotype of Spaniards being
snuff sniffers?  In general most of the jokes were discarded.

What was Pacino's accent?  Method East European Corleone?  Why didn't
the Venetians have Italian accents?  Did Shakespeare intend Shylock to
have an accent?

Was Old Gobbo miraculously cured of blindness mid-appearance?  And was
Launcelot Gobbo thinking to himself throughout the movie, "Why am I here?"

Antonio's final bond was, well, bondage-y.  In general Jeremy Irons had
a bit of the "why am I here" attitude but it can work with the script.
For example his loneliness when Portia, Bassanio, etc. retire to the
bedrooms, a "tainted wether of the flock" indeed.

Finally, poster John Drakakis writes about a final scene: "Jessica
pensively wandering along the water's edge watching fishermen shooting
fish with cupid-like bows".  It's a beautiful scene and the Cupid
insight is excellent.  Interesting that the fishermen were quite older
than usual representations of Cupid?

All in all I recommend the film and thought it well worth seeing.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.