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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: January ::
Al Pacino in "Merchant of Venice"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0198  Monday, 31 January 2005

[1]     From:   Steve Sohmer <
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        Date:   Friday, 28 Jan 2005 15:01:07 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0184 Al Pacino in "Merchant of Venice"

[2]     From:   Bruce Richman <
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        Date:   Saturday, 29 Jan 2005 17:50:15 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0184 Al Pacino in "Merchant of Venice"

[3]     From:   John Drakakis <
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        Date:   Monday, 31 Jan 2005 12:01:18 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0184 Al Pacino in "Merchant of Venice"

[4]     From:   Stephen Dobbin <
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        Date:   Monday, 31 Jan 2005 08:46:02 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Pacino's Merchant


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Sohmer <
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Date:           Friday, 28 Jan 2005 15:01:07 EST
Subject: 16.0184 Al Pacino in "Merchant of Venice"
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0184 Al Pacino in "Merchant of Venice"

Dear Friends,

Not to flog a dead horse, but Charles Weinstein's review of Pacino as
Shylock was spot-on. Tommy Lasorda could have done the role better.

Steve Sohmer

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Richman <
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Date:           Saturday, 29 Jan 2005 17:50:15 -0600
Subject: 16.0184 Al Pacino in "Merchant of Venice"
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0184 Al Pacino in "Merchant of Venice"

With some time off last week, and looking forward to nation-wide release
of the new Merchant of Venice, I indulged myself by renting the Olivier
MOV and a couple of other middle-aged productions that I hadn't seen
before. Although very good looking, the Olivier MOV (1973) was a huge
disappointment. The Gobbo family repartee is completely excised, and
with it the comic perspective on the filial struggles that rock the
Shylock household.  Many, many speeches throughout the play are
grievously truncated, with the expectable mangling of meanings and
affronts to poetry.

I was even more deeply disturbed by my rental of the Charlton
Heston/Jason Robards Julius Caesar, done in 1970. Robards gives what
must be the single worst performance in the history of drama as he tries
to read the part of Brutus from cards apparently held just off-camera.
The cardboard itself would have been more expressive.

And while Robards is polishing his acting award, the Orson Wells/Peter
Brook King Lear (1953) that I stumbled into on the same shelf must
surely win the competition for single worst production of any
Shakespeare play ever attempted, deleting the Gloucester family parallel
entirely, conflating characters, and squeezing the whole thing down to
about 75 minutes. If an audience member wasn't already well-acquainted
with the play, it would be absolutely impossible to understand what's
going on from the scraps left in the film.

So many film adaptations seem to find ways to ruin the Shakespeare
plays, I wonder if group members might mention any they've found that
make a moderately successful effort to hold the plays intact and
otherwise do a better job of mounting a Shakespeare production than the
sorry group I've just subjected myself to.

Bruce Richman
Columbia, Missouri

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Monday, 31 Jan 2005 12:01:18 -0000
Subject: 16.0184 Al Pacino in "Merchant of Venice"
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0184 Al Pacino in "Merchant of Venice"

You are right,

The final image is Jessica, and it's the shot of the ring that she is
supposed to have exchanged for a monkey.  Radford's version is that she
hasn't exchanged it at all, and that Tubal's account is merely a rumour.
  If this is so, then the motive for Shylock's instence upon his bond is
nothing more than a Christian rumour.  Like Antonio he is left isolated
at the end of the play...as is, indeed, Jessica.

Cheers,
John Drakakis

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephen Dobbin <
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Date:           Monday, 31 Jan 2005 08:46:02 +0000 (GMT)
Subject:        Pacino's Merchant

I can give John Mahon a pretty firm answer on what the final shots of
Pacino's MOV are, as my company did the subtitles and audio description
for the UK theatrical release. Although it is, of course, possible there
was a re edit before it opened in the U.S.

The final sequence is of Jessica watching the fishermen in the lagoon
and looking down at Leah's ring on her finger (the story about her
having exchanged it for a monkey having been, apparently, just that- a
story). The shot of Shylock being shut out of the synagogue is before
this. So unless there is some suggestion that Shylock became a
fisherman, the last shot is of Jessica in the foreground, her back to
the camera, with two fishermen in the lagoon beyond her.

Stephen

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