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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

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Source: Catholic News Service

Visually rich, if overly somber, adaptation by director Michael Radford of Shakespeare's classic play about Shylock (Al Pacino), a Jewish moneylender in the 16th century who lends the merchant Antonio (Jeremy Irons) a sum of money, and then insists on the contractual "pound of (Antonio's) flesh" when the money cannot be repaid by the promised date. Pacino is in good form and, as in most modern stage productions of the piece, makes Shylock as sympathetic as possible, showing him as deserving of his desired revenge after years of mistreatment by the Christians, while Irons, Joseph Fiennes as the merchant's young friend, Bassanio, for whom the money was really borrowed, and Lynn Collins as Portia, Bassanio's betrothed, who impersonates a male barrister to plead Antonio's case, provide solid support. Some nudity, sexual innuendo. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted

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Apollonia: The persecution of Christians began in Alexandria during the reign of the Emperor Philip. The first victim of the pagan mob was an old man named Metrius, who was tortured and then stoned to death. The second person who refused to worship their false idols was a Christian woman named Quinta. Her words infuriated the mob and she was scourged and stoned. 
<p>While most of the Christians were fleeing the city, abandoning all their worldly possessions, an old deaconess, Apollonia, was seized. The crowds beat her, knocking out all of her teeth. Then they lit a large fire and threatened to throw her in it if she did not curse her God. She begged them to wait a moment, acting as if she was considering their requests. Instead, she jumped willingly into the flames and so suffered martyrdom.</p><p>There were many churches and altars dedicated to her. Apollonia is the patroness of dentists, and people suffering from toothache and other dental diseases often ask her intercession. She is pictured with a pair of pincers holding a tooth or with a golden tooth suspended from her necklace. St. Augustine explained her voluntary martyrdom as a special inspiration of the Holy Spirit, since no one is allowed to cause his or her own death.</p> American Catholic Blog We can find Christ among the despised, voiceless, and forgotten of the world. We have to move beyond that which we wish to ignore and forget about: embrace the seemingly un-embraceable, love the unlovable, and dare to know what we most fear and wish to leave unknowable.

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