Thursday, September 30, 2010

That man deserved his revenge! (1)

Thats the thought that crossed my mind after watching Michael Radford's The Merchant of Venice(2) few days back on TV in which Al Pacino has played Shylock. Al Pacino is described as a method actor. But it was not his acting that made me long for revenge on Shylock's behalf. I mean, who would not feel enraged to see a man spat at in the opening scene of the movie. I had to reread the play after the movie to get to know Shakespeare's Shylock. The difference is that in the movie Shylock is not so cruel and he is not shown as a sinister and a despised character. In the movie its the fear that rules the relationship between Shylock and all others, whether its his daughter or his boy or other Christian brethern. Shylock's 'hath not a jew eyes?' speech from Al Pacino completely justifies in my opinion his need for revenge. But nowhere in the movie do we get to understand the real reason for Shylock's hatred for Anotonio. Antonio's reason to explain Shylock's malice is not shown. Its unfair. In the play you get to here from Shylock that he had been spat at by Antonio and humiliated by others because he is a jew and a money lender. And it is visualised in the movie. But Antonio words 'I oft deliver'd from his forfeitures. Many that have at times made moan to me;Therefore he hates me', also deserved a scene. But in the movie even the words are missed. You are also not shown the generous side of Antonio in contrast with Shylock. You will not know why Antonio is generally admired and accepted as a 'good man'. He is infact shown as a weakling. While reading the play you will understand that Shylock is envious of Antonio. And it is that green eyed monster along with intense hatred which prompts him to think of that ominous, evil bond. But if you watch the movie without reading the play you will be at a loss to understand why there is so much of hatred in Shylock for Antonio. The motive behind Shylock's extraordinary bond is lost. In the movie you also do not see the acquisitive nature of Shylock. You feel sorry for the old man when his daughter runs away with all his money and jewellary. But while reading the play the effect is exactly the opposite. The scene is hilarious. Raving avaricious old man. You would say 'serves him right'. One good thing about the movie is that it is completely faithful to Shakespeare's script. Even though its funny to see Joseph Fiennes as Bassanio utter those words.


(1) Yes, its from Kill Bill-1. I have just changed the gender and the tense. 
(2) Shakespeare named the play after Antonio, but the names I had remembered from the play were Shylock and Portia. I could not recall the merchant's name till the opening scene of the movie!

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