The beauty of words

Words, when architected by a master and uttered with a voice tailored suitably is like a fine wine, smooth, enchanting and lingers.

I recently watched “The merchant of Venice” with Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons. I have not seen Shakespeare on film for so long I almost forgotten the sheer beauty of words. The acting, customs, and issues in adaptation aside, the mere proper annunciation of the lines and the settings of the beautiful city of Venice makes this film a most rewarding experience.

So many quotes came out of this play that surprised me that this is not put on stage more often. I suppose the apparent snit-semantic plot prevents it from a wider audience sometimes. Here is some of the wonderful lines:

“In sooth I know not why I am so sad:
It wearies me; you say it wearies you.”
Antonio 1:1, first line of play.

“I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano,-
A stage, where every man must play a part;
And mine a sad one.”
Antonio 1:1

“If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.”
Portia 2:1

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.

A goodly apple rotten at the heart:
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!

Mislike me not for my complexion,
The shadowed livery of the burnished sun.
1:3 Morocco Prince

In the twinkling of an eye.

It is a wise father that knows his own child.

But love is blind, and lovers cannot see
The pretty follies that themselves commit.

"All that glisters is not gold; / Often have you heard that told. / Many a man his life hath sold / But my outside to behold. / Gilded tombs do worms enfold."
2:7 inscription in Gold casket

Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that."
3:1 Shylock

The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's,
When mercy seasons justice. The Merchant of Venice, 4. 1
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.
5:1 Portia

Also saw this movie called "Russian Ark" by filmaker Alexander Sokurov.

"Told in one fluid shot, a tale which floats like a dreamlike journey through the majestic spaces of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, engaging real and imagined characters from Russian and European history. The nameless protagonist, a 19th-century French diplomat, guides the audience through a lost, sumptuous dream that was the Enlightenment period. The film, staged among some of the Western Art tradition's greatest masterpieces, climaxes in a pageant of color, motion, and music. For Sokurov, the Hermitage–home to generations of Romonovs and repository of so much Russian history–is the ark of the Russian soul, guarding it affectionately until the world sees better days."

Do you know what it means to shot a 90 minutes film in one single shot? It is an amazing film. And the art and architecture are truly breathtaking, the painting, sculptures, statues, staccos, vase… Especially exciting for me is the Rembrandt room featuring "Return of the Prodigal Son". Yes, the painting Nouwen was inspired by that prompted the book of the same name.


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