Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Orson Welles' Lost MERCHANT OF VENICE to Premiere at Venice Film Festival

Orson Welles as Shylock in Merchant of Venice (1969)
(Venice, Italy) Orson Welles said "...I've always felt a special sympathy for Shylock and I've wanted to communicate that sympathy to a loving audience."

In 1969, while in the middle of shooting a condensed version of The Merchant of Venice as part of a television special, Orson's Bag, for CBS, the network yanked the funding over tax disputes with US authorities. Welles completed the project himself, playing the character of Shylock. After a private screening in Rome, two of the three working copy reels were stolen in "some mysterious way," leaving the original negative, which had no sound.

When Orson Welles died in 1985 at age 70, The Merchant of Venice was unable to be completed the way Welles had envisioned. That is, until recently, after the original script was found, together with the composer's notes and other lost elements, and all the king's horses and all the king's men finally put Humpty Dumpty together again.

Orson Welles
In honor of the centennial of the birth of Orson Welles -- May 15, 1915 -- two Venetian masterpieces inspired by Shakespeare will screen at the pre-opening tribute of the 72nd Venice Film Festival on the Lido. On the evening of September 1, 2015 at 8:30 PM, the world premiere of the reconstructed and restored 30-minute film The Merchant of Venice will be shown in the Sala Darsena, along with the original full-length Italian version of Othello.


The world premiere of Othello was originally supposed to have been presented at the Venice Film Festival in September, 1951, but Welles withdrew it from competition at the last minute, saying it wasn't ready -- now Orson Welles' Italian version of Othello will finally show at the Lido. A shorter English version was presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 1952, and won the Grand Prix.

The evening will also include the first live public performance by the Orchestra Classica di Alessandra of the original unpublished score for The Merchant of Venice by the renowned composer Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, which has been transcribed from the only performance recorded for the film.

Orson Welles
Renaissance man Orson Welles was gifted with many abilities. In addition to directing, acting and writing, he also dabbled as an artist. Shakespeare & Cigars is an exhibition that features twelve studies of Shakespearean characters-- Macbeth, Othello, Falstaff, Shylock -- painted by Orson Welles on the backs of the wooden boxes of his favorite cigars.

The 72nd Venice International Film Festival, directed by Alberto Barbera, runs September 2 through 12, 2015.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. Orson Welles said "...I've always felt a special sympathy for Shylock and I've wanted to communicate that sympathy to a loving audience." In 1969, while in the middle of shooting a condensed version of The Merchant of Venice as part of a television special, Orson's Bag, for CBS, the network yanked the funding over tax disputes with US authorities.

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