Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Merchant of Venice

A film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. It has Al Pacino as Shylock, Jeremy Irons as Antonio and Joseph Fienes as Bassino. The movie is very beautifully cherographed and extremely well acted. You would expect nothing less with a star cast like this. But the adapation too dark for the play. This is not a Macbeth or Hamlet. Shylock is a victim of anti-Semitism. The European Jews were not allowed to own property, so they became money lenders. It was against the Christan law at that time to take interest. But thats what Jews would do to earn a livelihood. Bassino is in love with Portia but he doesn't have the money to go seek her hand. His very good friend Antonio comes to his rescue by loaning from Shylock. The terms of payment are Antino has to pay the money in three months or Shylock can have a pound of his flesh. Bassinio marries Portia, Antonio comes accross some back luck and can't pay his debt. Shylock wants to take his revenge for all the insult he has ever faced. You end up sympathized with Shylock since he is the victim of society. Even the end which is supposed to paint him the a-la villian fails. I think in all the opulence of the movie the essence of the play is missing. In the scene where Portia and Nerissa are chastizing their husbands for losing their wedding rings seems too forced. This should have been a scence that makes the audience forget about the sad things that have happened and laugh about the mix up. Somehow the zing is missing. It does have Shakespeare's beautiful literature. My favourite is Shylock's soliquoy : If you prick us, do we not bleed? .. and if you wrong us shall we not revenge. Its worth a watch if you really are into Shakespeare. Don't if you are not into it.


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