A young Ian McKellen works through a line from Merchant of Venice in the RSC’s Playing Shakespeare from a few decades past.
The director seen here, John Barton, was asked to write a book about his robust knowledge of the Bard but promptly refused, stating that it was impossible to talk about Shakespeare without having living, breathing actors available to demonstrate the subtleties and poetry of the text. The result is a party full of some the acting greats taking apart classic texts piece by piece and uncovering centuries worth of subtext in the process.
Venice appears to be breathtaking no matter how you slice it. The vibrant facades, the quaint laundry lines displaying clothes like multicolored flags, the lack of traditional highways…
But surely the Venice of today is different than that of 500 years ago. While the city is unmistakably steeped in history, it cannot help but to feel the effects of modernization.
On a search to find out how Venice might have looked in the 16th century, stumbled upon this little gem: a trailer for a 2004 movie version of the Bard’s “Merchant of Venice.” Anyone seen this? The cast is top-notch that’s for sure…Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes, and…what? Al Pacino? Since when does he do Shakespeare? In any case, I feel like this film flew under a lot of people’s radar.