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The Merchant of Venice The Director’s Interpretation.

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The Merchant of Venice The Director's Interpretation. The play "The Merchant of Venice" was written about 1596 by the great English playwright William Shakespeare. Although the play has gone through some revisions it has never been changed a great deal. In the past fifty or so years as Hollywood has come into light and the movie adaptations of some of Shakespeare's greatest plays have been shown in a different perspective, they have given us other peoples pre-conceptions of the play. The Merchant of Venice is no different with several variations of the play on the silver screen. In this piece of work I am going to show how the director of the play has changed it in any way from what I thought of the original text. It was directed and produced by Jonathan Miller and starred Lawrence Oliver. As I read the text I had many of my own pre-conceptions about setting, characters, personalities, traits and how they moved around the stage, and that the play would remain intact on the big screen-how wrong I was. First I will deal with the characters how the text made me feel towards them and how I thought they would look. Lawrence Oliver portrayed Shylock enigmatically as he always had the presence of power and forcefulness on screen through his actions and words. I imagined Shylock to be a short, withered man who was quite plump, greedy, bald and of no conscience what so ever. ...read more.


I pictured a man in his late twenties, tanned and of high stature in society as he had a lot of money and his personality was that of happiness and of the joy of life which was being taken away from him by the cruel and tyrannical Shylock. Whenever I saw him in the film I saw a man of about 65 standing sullen as a priest at a funeral who was uncaring as to whether he lived or died at the hand of Shylock he kept, "Saying take your bond". I felt no sympathy whatsoever for him as he didn't particularly want it. I felt his being cast as Antonio was all-wrong and that he was there as more of a sidekick to Shylock whom I felt was the main character. Portia I imagined to be a fair maiden in her early twenties with blonde hair and blue eyes who disapproved of all her suitors and must be a looker as she had so captively won the heart of the young Bassanio the prince of Arragon and Morocco. My preconception was all wrong as there was a woman who was about 40 wasn't that nice looking and to all viewers her personality towards everyone except Bassanio was less than pleasant. She constantly acted as a snobbish spoilt brat towards her servants and also her guests as she constantly forgot Jessica's name. ...read more.


I also found that characters lines were shortened and that very often scenes such as the one with Old Gobbo and Lancelot were completely cut out. The director was able to convey different emotions through the words than what I thought, such as whenever Shylock is referred to as that Jew. In the play I imagined it to be said without an ounce of prejudice. It was said in the play with contempt of Shylock and could change what people think the play's theme is about from the bonds that exist between people to anti-Semitism. I also felt the play changed what my view of Jessica and how Important she was as Portia kept forgetting her name as if she was insignificant. Also of her father and how I thought she was happy about leaving him but after the trial of Antonio and the downfall of the Jew her father who was humiliated due to the fact that he had to become a Christian as this is unfair punishment. She is upset and looks sad, and there is nothing in the text to support these two things even happening. All in all the play didn't live up to my expectations and I believe the director took too many liberties when making the film. But it is true that my pre-conceptions of a book or play are different than the next mans. By Charles O' Loan S1F ...read more.

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