In 16th century Venice, when a merchant must default on a large loan from an abused Jewish moneylender for a friend with romantic ambitions, the bitterly vengeful creditor demands a gruesome payment instead.
The film "Der Kaufmann von Venedig" ( The Jew Of Mestri ) was written, produced and directed by Herr Peter Paul Felner in the silent year of 1923 and is a free adaptation of "Merchant of Venice" written by Herr William Shakespeare. It is an elegant and expensive German film production that was shot on location in beautiful and decadent Venice with some of the most important Teutonic actors of the time: Frau Henny Porten, Herr Harry Liedtke und Werner Krauss and even the mysterious Herr Max Schreck .
So as you can see, mein liebers, it seems that we have a film that should be great, given the cast and production values, but unfortunately it isn't so
In spite of such important literary material ( that was "slightly modified in order to not offend the modern standard of good taste" as is written in a title card at the beginning of the picture, although this Herr Von believes that this was an excuse for not paying royalties ) and reputable actors, Herr Felner's direction is ordinary and even boring. He does little more than illustrate some passages of the manuscript and then counts on the beauty of Venice to do the rest. Alas, it's not enough.
The actors, although correct, perform their roles in a very a theatrical way. Herr Felner does not handle the scenes of the Jewish community very well and the stereotyping seems to have a subtle malice in it, a subject that in Teutonic hands is often dangerous.
In spite of the interesting material with which Herr Felner worked, the film must be judged a failure largely due to his sluggish and unimaginative direction. The tragic moments are insubstantial and the comedy doesn't work so we are left with a routine costume film full of wigs, tights, and the scenery of Venice.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must practise being a gondolier with one of his Teutonic rich heiresses.
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