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Pacino dazzles at Venice with take on Shakespeare

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 by Pacino.

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.

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