Story by: Jack Foley
AL PACINO took the Venice Film Festival 2004 by storm, when he
dropped into the festival to promote the big screen version of
Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.
The Oscar-winning actor used his visit to suggest that more of
the Bard's plays should be given the movie treatment, particularly
given the success many past interpretations have enjoyed.
Pacino plays Shylock in the $30 million (£17 million) production,
which also stars Joseph Fiennes and Jeremy Irons, and is directed
by Michael Radford.
The film, which received its world premiere, also received a
warm welcome, with many praising another masterly performance
The actor has long been a Shakespeare
buff, having previously played Richard III on stage, which he
subsequently documented in his film, Looking For Richard.
And speaking at Venice, he said he would very much consider tackling
further Shakespearan roles on the big screen, particularly as
it would provide 'an opportunity to take some of the humanity
that he writes into his characters and to express it'.
"In the theatre, you are watching it as it happens and listening
to the words. But in a movie, you have the opportunity to cut
away, to go in for close-ups, to bring in a different dynamic
to a scene," he explained.
However, Pacino added that he would prefer to appear in any such
venture on stage first, even though he wouldn't be drawn on whether
he had any particular play in mind.
The biggest box office hit of a Shakespeare play has been Baz
Luhrman's contemporary version of Romeo and Juliet, starring Leonardo
di Caprio and Clare Danes, although the likes of Much Ado About
Nothing (with Kenneth Branagh) and 10 Things I Hate About You
(a Heath Ledger movie, which updated The Taming of the Shrew)
have provided sizeable Box Office hits.