Film Series : Shakespeare on Film

The Merchant of Venice

2004, Michael Radford, USA, 131 min. With Al Pacino, Ralph Fiennes.

Show Times

  • Sat, Dec 10th 3:00pm
  • Thu, Dec 15th 6:00pm

"Radford succeeds in rendering the complexities with clarity and vigor... Portia's defeat of Shylock becomes one of the great courtroom scenes in recent movies, a dense, emotionally volatile tableau of cruelty and beauty, much like the rest of Mr. Radford's well-judged interpretation of this impossible play." — A.O. Scott, The New York Times

The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s best-known yet least familiar plays, rarely produced because of its controversial villain, the vindictive Jewish money-lender Shylock. Michael Radford’s gripping, highly cinematic adaptation was in fact the first film version since the silent era, and the canny choices he makes in negotiating this minefield provide as much fascination as the text itself. Radford doesn’t disguise the bigotry inherent in the creation of Shylock’s character; instead, he contextualizes it by elaborating the historical background of medieval antisemitism. And Pacino’s hushed, haunted performance brings out Shylock’s full tragic potential, culminating in the play’s matchlessly dramatic courtroom showdown. 35mm widescreen. (MR)

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