The Merchant of Venice (Radford, 2004) DVD
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Directed by Michael Radford
Produced in 2004
Main Language - ENGLISH
Countries & Regions - British Film, American film
One of the best recent Shakespeare adaptations with compelling performances from Irons as Antonio and Pacino as the Jewish money-lender Shylock who claims his forfeit of a pound of Antonio's flesh when the latter's ships founder and he cannot repay a loan.
Length: 131 mins
Aspect ratio: 2.35 Anamorphic Wide Screen
Cat No: 10005426
Format: DVD Colour
Subtitles: Hard of Hearing - English
by Anon on 11th February 2005
William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice is about a Jewish moneylender and his bond to extract a pound of flesh from the wealthy merchant Antonio, the forfeiter of... Read on
William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice is about a Jewish moneylender and his bond to extract a pound of flesh from the wealthy merchant Antonio, the forfeiter of a debt. The Jewish moneylender, of course, is Shylock and he is given a towering performance by Al Pacino. The film is set in 16th century Venice and director Michael Radford relies on setting, mood, and realism to tell its story, rejecting lavish period costumes or a modern setting with rock music to appeal to a wider audience. Radford slices the play's three-hour length to a manageable two hours and eight minutes and also provides some historical background in the opening narration.
The play is primarily a drama of hatred and revenge, but like many of Shakespeare's works there are touches of broad comedy as well. Radford's adaptation conveys a remarkable feeling for time and place. Portia's residence at Belmont suggests one of those splendid summer homes complete with immaculate gardens and art treasures hanging in every room and contrasts well with the grungy look of Shylock's city with its dank alleyways.
The Merchant of Venice is not only about an unpaid debt but also about the estrangement of Jews from Christian society and their desire for belonging. In the monologue, "I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? …If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?", Shylock shows a universal humanity, expressing the equality of all men and Pacino's performance brings new vigor to the text, his often over-the-top persona replaced with a gentler, more understated demeanor that brings understanding to his cause.