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Media Analysis - Merchant of Venice

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Introduction

Media Analysis 'Merchant of Venice' The film 'Merchant of Venice' directed by Michael Radford is a modern remake of William Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. Radford has also directed films such as the 'Postman" and 'Another Time, Another Place' both which are classified as Drama's for their genres. This film was released in 2004 and stars Oscar winners - Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons and Bafta Nominee Joseph Fiennes. This has been done very accurately and there have been bold choices made in choosing the cast such as Al Pacino playing the leading character Shylock and Jeremy Irons playing Antonio. As in the original novel there is a strong anti-Semitism theme, portrayed by the cruelty of the Venetian Christians towards the Jewish people. Other themes are love friendship and corruption. In Shakespeare's period this would have been considered a comedy due to the mockery of their Jewish counterparts, but now in a society which generally doesn't tolerate such racial hatred, we sympathise in the end with Shylock who has been treated harshly. ...read more.

Middle

Then a small elderly Jewish gentleman (later who we find out is Shylock) is spat at by a middle aged Venetian Man (Antonio). Then there is the vivid image of a Torah encircled in flames. These first 3 1/2 minutes are very horrifying for the viewer, and really sets home the reality of life in the 15 hundreds. We learn some historical background to the play and also how the Jewish people are often moneylenders. A brief list of the casting are published one by one across the screen with what looks like an ordinary night with a religious ceremony being carried out. The camera movement is generally slow in the next few minutes, like the music and the sound of the water gently moving. This is to create a tense and sombre atmosphere and one of suspense. From here on, there is talk between Antonio and Bassanio, before building up to the main events of significance in the play. Bassanio a young handsome gentleman, is seeking to court Portia for this he needs money- 3000 ducats to be precise and he asks his friend Antonio for help. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even though the drama has passed, a chilling end is left with us.' The main event is Shylock having to transform to Christianity and losing all his wealth and credibility. The ending shows the bond between Portia and Bassanio as Portia admits she was the doctor. A classical piece of music is played, with strong vocals, and this, which is played throughout these final minutes takes the place of words. Also due to the colours being of dark appearance, it shows that there is an air of injustice of what has happened to Shylock. I think what is said about Bassanio giving away the ring Portia gave him, is rather irrelevant and trivial. What is not said is more powerful, such as Shylock standing in the darkness outside a synagogue (not being allowed in) leaves us to sympathise with him and he comes out the martyr and moral hero of the film in my opinion. To conclude, the Merchant of Venice is a brave choice to tackle the underlying anti-Semitic message. I think this would also appeal to people to people who do not necessarily read Shakespeare, showing that this film obviously is a success. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

The analysis in this piece is satisfactory and there is an understanding of plot and character demonstrated. The explanations are too brief though and ideas need to be developed and considered in terms of directorial choices.

4 Stars

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 05/09/2013

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