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Merchant Of Venice Film Analysis

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The movie adaptation of The Merchant of Venice, directed by Michael Radford in 2004, is the first full-length sound film in English, of Shakespeare's play. Radford’s adaptation helps the modern day moviegoer understand the complexity of the plays sensitive and controversial topics. There are a litany of differences between the two. However, the storyline and themes remain closely in line with one another. The film differs from the play in some chronological instances. For example, the play has Lorenzo and Jessica runway with one another before the Moroccans casket choice at Portia's’ castle. These two scenes occur in reverse order in the film version. Radford has various scenes that have been spliced or reordered in his adaptation, which…show more content…
When Antonio first emerges, he is walking through a mob of Christians as they berate the Jews for their usury profession. He's wearing a large crucifix around his neck, which serves as a compelling visual link between Antonio and the church. Antonio is being beckoned to in a friendly, welcoming tone by Shylock who then reaches his hand out to greet Antonio. He responds quickly, by spitting in Shylock’s face. This action creates an immediate question of fairness with the viewers. By adding this specific opening scene, the audience becomes aware of the key characters, Shylock and Antonio, as well as the mistreatment of Jews. Having the film open with cruel, anti-Semitic behavior is a deliberate tactic by Radford used to address the harsh subject of the film from the onset. Radford also utilizes this scene to create a more relatable character in Shylock before beginning the actual storyline. In the play Shylock is more overtly portrayed as a villain, where Radford reconstructs Shylock to embody both villain and victim. As a viewer of the film, we are privy to emotions from Antonio and Shylock that we are not able to so quickly glean from the lines of the play. For example, in the film, the depth of Shylock's despair is palpable when he is shown weeping, clinging to a tapestry for stability, in utter dismay at the loss of his daughter. There is an immediate emotional connection with Shylock at this moment, one that so easily formed in the play. When Salanio’s
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