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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sure beats my credit card's terms
After the high school English Lit experience, I've never been a Shakespeare fan, so I've rarely seen any of those of his works that've been put on film. Mired in the bliss of almost total ignorance, I'll yet foolishly suggest that this Big Screen THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is perhaps the most sumptuous cinematic adaptation of any of the Bard's plays to date.
If you're...
Published on 27 Dec. 2005 by Amazon Customer

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47 of 62 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How not to bring Shakespeare to the cinema
A deeply disappointing effort. Shakespeare's humane and magnificent drama is reduced to a dull and sordid costume show. Its wit is extinguished and its poetry muffled. The actors do not speak the lines - they simply mumble the words. Every character is impoverished: Portia is robbed of her intelligence; Bassanio of his chivalry; and Shylock of his miserliness and malice...
Published on 15 Jun. 2005


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare for the ignorant, 29 Dec. 2009
By 
A. Korsner "Adrian Korsner" (London England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
As one who would love to know Shakespeare better but never had the time, this DVD fell in to my lap and I fell into its spell.
I suppose that to those 'in the know' its just Shakespeare but to me it is really something special. Rather than being something that may be seen as eclectic or high brow, it is, to me, a wonderful way to understand and appreciate the bard. The sets are, naturally, more realistic than a stage presentation, the costumes are beautiful and able to be appreciated 'close up'. Above all, the acting, especially Pacino, is just amazing and the film style genre more readily appreciated to one more familiar with this than live theatre. I don't know why I don't watch more authentic Shakespeare, I guess it is either laziness or the lack of knowledge of availability. Happened to me once before when I saw the opera Carmen performed 'in the real' on video. For any film fan wishing to learn about and appreciate great theatre, I would not hesitate to recommend that they watch this. They could not fail to enjoy it. True, its a kind of 'dumbing down' of the medium of straight theatre but it is so much more affordable and familiar.
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12 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare it isn't, 3 Oct. 2005
By 
Skeadugenga (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
This film is pretty to look at, but if you are at all familiar with the play (and were hoping to see that) then avoid it. "The quality of mercy is not strained" is there, but "On such a night" has been hacked out, in fact Jessica doesn't have much to do but stand about. Al Pacino is great as Shylock, but a lot of his asides are lost, not sure if its the sound recording or he was mumbling, and the voice coach was wasting his time as he sounds no different from usual, just difficult to hear. The trial scene is very gripping, but on the whole the film is a disappointment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 11 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
Brilliant and well cast !
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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must see and absolutely brilliant, 27 May 2005
By 
M. C. Whiting "cwhiting72" (NORFOLK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
I am an avid fan of the works of Pacino and in this he is purely stunning yet I would warn potential buyers that he is not in it as much as one may have expected. Nonetheless the perfromance of Shylock is great and it really shows his versatility as an actor and I doubt the overrated Bobby DeNiro would pull it off and keep a semi-American accent. The film is cleverly directed to look undated yet unmodern also. The plot is simply conveyed for those who have difficulty in understanding Shakespeare. Jeremy Irons also gives us a splendid perfomance of Antonio which appears to be very natural and almost effortless. The debut of Lynn Collins is also brilliant as I think she portrays the "fair" Portia to a tee. Despite much of the text being cut due to a 2 hour time limit it seems it still has all the drama and suspense that the play gives. The only disappointments were the incredibly forced and rushed performance of Joseph Fiennes although he has the right look for Bassanio. Gratiano is played by the son in 'My Family' and he is also distinctly average and outacted even by Mackenzie Crook who I thought conveyed the low comedy character of Lancelot with great conviction and humour. The film is though, however, very true to the times and is comprised of small stories which overlap rather than one story which brings out Shakespeare's genius. Therefore if you haven't seen it then you should as it is vastly underrated and didn't even show at my local cinema and has already dropped to £6.66 I see. If you are reading this is a bargain for a greatly underrated and brilliant piece of story telling and a great show of fantastic ensemble acting, the likes of which we do not see enough these days.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The tragic innuendo of Shakespeare's language is missed, 19 Aug. 2008
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This review is from: The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
This play by Shakespeare is worth a pound of gold, at least. It reveals with crudity one side of Shakespeare and Shakespeare's time most people would like to ignore: his supposed anti-Semitism. Everyone wants to ignore it because no one can see the double talk Shakespeare is a great master of. In his days Jews were seen as vultures, tolerated vultures but vultures all the same. Of course Shakespeare could have avoided dealing with the subject. He did deal with it several times. The Saracen in Titus Andronicus is another heroic case. He also had to deal with it because of what was happening around him. Shakespeare was a conscious and socially oriented mirror of his time. His theatre was committed to the real world. He managed to survive longer than his friend and competitor Marlowe because he probably was more prudent and careful. He might have avoided the dangerous spots, nocturnal or diurnal. But even so, he had an art that Marlowe never had. He knew how to speak with a forked tongue, he knew double entendre, he knew double talk and he had many tongues in his many cheeks; This is the case with this particular play and the film, I must say, does not totally show this duplicity. Apart from the famous tirade on the Jew who bleeds when you prick him with a needle, the rest is not seen or shown, and yet it is said. It is not clearly exploited how the ruthlessness and the pitilessness of Skylock is totally and even with a multiplied force inverted and applied to Shylock by the good Christians who do not show the slightness pity or forgiveness or mercy towards the Jew once he is defeated. And the double language is quite obvious in the fact that the learned doctor is an impersonation (note in Shakespeare's time the two women would have been played by two men and then the two women, who would have been men, or rather boys, would have disguised as men) and this does not work today at all the same way since the two women are real women. A false doctor and false man, who is a false woman under that first skin, and who is a real boy under that second skin is speaking the law, justice, truth. What a lie! The only one who is true to his word is Shylock, even if his word is ruthless, but where is the mercy these good Christians were preaching to him, once they have won their case? All that law Shakespeare defends is shown, in the tone of a tragic comedy, as a big lie, as a farce, as a disguise of any truth, and the final episode of the two un-givable rings that were sworn never to be given away and were given to pay the services of two liars and disguised tricksters after the big farce of the use of law to pitilessly fool and victimize a Jew is the most beautiful piece of underground meaning. This is contained in Shakespeare in the balancing act he plays in which any binary element is balance (perfection being four) and any ternary element is disruption. In the "IF" little dialogue of the end Bassanio in four lines tries to build a square that never comes and the four "I" are the only real balanced element surrounded by three "gave" , five "the ring", etc. And Portia can answer with a perfect ternary structure revealing how false his reasoning is, but she is the liar, she is the serpent who forced Bassanio into giving the ring, she is the one who was who she was not and who is who she was not either. The accuser once again is a false Daniel. Daniel saved Suzanne from a lie. Portia saved Antonio with the unjust law of Venice enforced by a lying tongue, hers that was his disguising hers. That's how Shakespeare was being witty with anti-Semitism and thus distancing himself from it. Imagine the wit of the man Bassanio telling the boy playing Portia she/he will be his bedfellow and he will let Her/him lie with Her/him when he is absent. Most of the time Shakespeare uses disguises to reveal some good things like love. Here he uses disguises to reveal the forked tongues with which all these Christians are speaking. The film does not show it and prefers adding some images that exonerate the director from the accusation whereas he should exonerate Shakespeare from it, because Shakespeare does not deserve it.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hath a Jew not eyes, 17 Nov. 2006
This review is from: The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
Al Pacino is unbelievable in this film. Portias performance was not the best, and her sub role when she was disguised as the "lawyer" was pretty poor and dragged on.

Pacinos rendition of the "Hath a jew not eyes" monologue was second to none. The films pace can run out at times but overall I think it is very interesting, and anybody interested in Drama should watch this basically for Al Pacinos Excellent standard.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 8 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
Good quality
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Corrupted by modern trend, 11 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
I did not like this performance one bit. A range of excellent performers involved but the interpretation does not ring true to what Shakespeare is about — post modern influence corrupts this performance for me.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Merchant of Venice, 3 Feb. 2009
By 
J. Thomson "J.T." (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
An excellent production with a great selection of present day actors and acted to perfection.
It is rare to see many productions which draw the viewers into the plot / action and have you wondering what will be the outcome, even though many will be well acquainted with the original play.
This presentation is far, far better.
Shakepeare's people come truly alive and truly believable in this production.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Merchant of Venice DVD 2004, 12 Mar. 2010
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This review is from: The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
Great film, great seller. Ideal for my sons GCSE course, he really enjoyed watching this after reading the book, then discussing the characters.The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004]
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The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004]
The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004] by Michael Radford (DVD - 2005)
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