Steve Cramer reflects on AL PACINO’s relationship with his first love, theatre, as the great actor leads in a new film version of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.
Iiat makcs a grcat lilm actor'.’ In AI Pacino‘s
casc. and hc‘s arguath thc world‘s grcatcst.
it‘s a Ioiig apprciiticcship in thcatrc. Pacino has .statcd that hc prcl‘crs thcatrc acting to lilm. hut at an asking pricc of SUm pcr moyic. hc's tcndcd to pricc himscll' out of thc thcatrc markct. th tcii ycars ol' sti'ugglc as a thcatrc studcnt mark him out as a total stagc actor. It‘s not just his ohyiously thcatrical pcrl‘ormancc sty lc.
\thn askcd ahout thc grcat actors ol' thc currcnt gcnci'ation. Pacino is thc cpitomc of Hollywood Iuyyic. yct c\cn hcrc. hc can‘t rcsist a subtle dig at thc lack of ‘rcaI' acting cxpcricncc in thc youngcr gcncration. "I‘Iicir undcrstaiiding ol~ thc mcdium and thcir application of thcir gifts. from Scan Pcnn to Johnny Dcpp 7 guys I‘yc hccn lucky cnough to work with. Iidward Norton - hc's grcat too. thcy‘rc woiidcrl‘ul. Again. it's a lot to do with thc fact that thcy‘yc takcii this moyic tcchniquc and hayc hccn ahlc to i'cally i'clinc it. ’l'hcy’rc grcat moyic actors. I always cncouragc thcm to go on stagc. hccausc thc \cry act ot‘ it has a way of stimulating and opening you tip morc and giying you morc yaricty and scrying your own cral‘t. It'II scry c thcii‘ moyic acting. But thcy ‘rc grcat actors. 1 lo\ c thcm.‘
ch. ycs. wc gct it. thcy‘rc grcat. hut thcy arcn't thc rcal .\Ic(‘oy. But it‘s not just I'acilc snohhcry that driycs Pacino. His sclcction ol‘ rolcs. the ths wc rcaIIy rcmcmhci‘ him for. arc thc kind ol‘ parts thcatrc actors onc. From thc oycrcducatcd son of a mafia don. who fits in ncithcr with family nor posh socicty. to thc manically honcst .\'cw York cop. to thc alicnatcd gay bank rohhcr onwards. Pacino's most mcmorahlc pcrl‘ormanccs hayc hccn in playing 'thc
othch \Vc might say that any actor sL‘Cs thc hcnctit of
58 THE LIST .f “'3 Pub
‘THE BRITISH DO SHAKESPEARE GREAT'
playing thc outsidcr. yct thcatrc actors particularly prcl‘cr thcsc i'olcs. In thc higgcr l‘ramc ol‘ thc stagc. with no closc tips to mark an actor out. this physical outsidcncss scts an actor apart. granting him a watchahility grcatcr than any othcr tcn actors in thc spacc.
.\'o surprisc thcii that Pacino‘s ﬁrst foray into lilmiiig Shakcspcarc. Looking/hr Riv/run]. saw him sclcct onc ol‘ Shakcspcarc's grcat outsidcrs. Richard III. as his s'iihjcct. Nor docs it sccm untoward that his lirst rolc in an actual adaptation of thc hard sccs him pick up thc Icad in anothcr grcat talc of thc isolach indiyidual. 'l'lir' .llr’i'r'ltrriii of I'r'iii'i'r'. Iiycn his doscriptioii of pi'cparing the part shows his rclish at Shonck's racial alicnation I‘rom \cnctian socicty: ‘\\'c undcrstand whcrc Shylock's coming from. and Iiow he got thcrc. We can identify with his condition: the condition ol‘ his Iil‘c and his dcpriyation. ()ncc you scc thc imagcs. somconc spitting at somchody. you start to undcrstand his motiyations and rclatc to thcm.‘
th is his purc rcycrcncc I'or Shakcspcarc a kind of
sclllconscious attcmpt to build cultural crcdcncc'.’ ()nc wonders after his almost touristic commcnt on Iingland's grcat hcritagc writcr. ‘Iiirst oi‘ all. the British do .Shakcspcarc grcatf hc says. proying that a grcat yoicc docsn‘t rcquirc grcat cloqucncc. 'But onc thing I hayc to say is that the British hayc cncouragcd iis .~\mcricans. Thc temperament of Americans. as the Brits hayc men said to me. is more IiIi/ahcthan.‘ he adds. reclaiming it quickly for the Italian American way.
The Merchant of Venice is on general release from Fri 3 Oct. See review.
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it Manhattan Woody Allen's great comedy hymn to his beloved town. CCA, Glasgow (Thu 9 and Sat 7 7 Dec only).
>I< The Women New print of possibly the greatest chick flick of all time. GFI', Glasgow
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>I< The Noriko Trilogy Three of Yasujiro Ozu's best ﬁlms now available to buy in this lovely DVD box set. See review. Tartan Video. >l< The Coen Brothers’ Collection Blood Simple. Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy and The Big Lebowski all together in one DVD box set, say no more. See review. Universal.