The Merchant of Venice

Olivier’s telemovie The Merchant of Venice (John Sichel, 1973) ends with Jessica onscreen with the singing of the Kaddish for her father’s death on the soundtrack. This is entirely unlike the way Shak ends the play, as printed. In that, Jessica is merely one of three pairs of happy lovers: her final appearance is in the arms of Lorenzo as he makes the classic speech about music and trust. ( … ‘Mark the music.’) The play itself ends with a sexual joke, a double entendre. In the film, which has no credit for the writing, apart from The Bard – tho it is a ‘Jonathan Miller production’ – the attention surprisingly turns to the absent Shylock, whom we last heard after leaving the Duke’s court uttering what is undoubtedly meant to be his death cry. And the final scene has his daughter reading his last will and testament as we hear the funeral prayer, turning Shak’s comedy into something more tragic. Jonathan Miller is an atheist, but Jewish by birth.

Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Anthony Nicholls, Anna Carteret

The Merchant of Venice (John Sichel, 1973)

Garry Gillard | New: 17 March, 2017 | Now: 17 March, 2017