Battle of the Directors
The Merchant of Venice, also known as “The Jew of Venice” is a drama play originally written by William Shakespeare in 1598. The major conflict occurs when a man named Antonio (Venetian merchant) fails to pay off a loan to a greedy Jewish money loaner known as Shylock who demands a pound of flesh from Antonio in return. Antonio and his friends take a journey through friendship, love, and hatred in an attempt to free him of his pound of flesh fate induced by Shylock. Imagine yourself sitting in the master minds of directors Michael Radford and John Sichel while they are directing their adaptations of the play. Imagine experiencing their unique ideas first hand looking through their eyes and listening to their silent thoughts. You ask yourself how so many ideas run through their minds and what their intents are; is one director more creative than the other? In this essay I will take you on an adventure of my interpretation of two scenes that will show you how Sichel’s directing is more effective than Radford’s. There are a couple of different versions of this movie but two of the directors approach the same two scenes from the film “The Merchant of Venice” in an extremely different perspective. John Sichel’s version of “The Merchant of Venice” was created in 1973; major characters are Shylock (Laurence Oliver), Portia (Joan Plowright), Bassanio (Jeremy Brett), and Antonio (Anthony Nicholls) (“The Merchant of Venice” (TV 1973)). In 2004 director Michael Radford produced his adaptation of this film starring Al Pacino (Shylock), Jeremy Irons (Antonio), Lynn Collins (Portia), and Joseph Fiennes as Bassanio (“The Merchant of Venice” (2004). Sichel and Radford present their scenes in different way which makes the character’s personality appear different. The choices Sichel makes when directing his film seem to make his characters more empowered. Radford’s decisions support his characters but have less of an effect on the viewer. This effect is how the audience’s point of view on the scene being displayed. Sichel makes his characters seem more empowered when the Prince of Morocco comes to Belmont in solitude in purpose to obtain Portia’s hand in marriage by choosing the correct casket of the three under her father’s will when comparing his choices to Radford’s. Sichel also draws attention to his characters more when Portia and Nerissa are accusing Gratiano and Bassanio of giving away their rings to other women. This is shown through the characters actions and how the use of light has an effect on the viewer. This essay will compare and contrast the differences in both theatrical versions of this play and how the different choices from the directors affect the viewer’s standpoint. Sichel’s unique ways of setting his characters apart from Radford’s is brought about through their actions which reveal the symbol of bravery. In Radford’s 1973 film, the prince of Morocco comes to Portia’s home in Belmont alone in an attempt to choose to right casket out of the three (gold, silver, and lead). These caskets are in the shape of a triangle in the center of the room, with Portia and Nerissa standing off to the side. If he is to choose the right casket he will have the reward of marrying Portia under her father’s will (23:60 – 29:38)("YouTube - The Merchant of Venice (1973). Part 4 of 14"). The first thing that stood out was the fact that he came alone. The director choose to have him come to Belmont alone, his choice may give the audience the opinion that the prince of Morocco is exceedingly confident when choosing the correct casket. When comparing the same scene from Sichels’s movie to Radford’s 2004 film, the prince of Morocco is accompanied by some of his friends when making an effort to pick the right casket. These caskets are in a line off to the left of the room with Portia and Nerissa standing beside one another (34:54 – 38:07)(“ YouTube - The Merchant of...
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