Shakespeare on Screen ‘The Merchant of Venice’



This rare 35mm screening of Der Kaufmann Von Venedig (The Merchant of Venice) 1923 [11am Saturday 23 April] will feature live musical accompaniment from David Bailey on the Gallery’s 1929 Wurlitzer Organ.

This Wurlitzer Organ was originally installed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre which opened on 8 November 1929, where it remained until 1964. After a period in private ownership it was returned to Queensland in 2004 and installed in the Galley of Modern Art’s Australian Cinémathèque in 2007. Hardly altered at all over the years, it remains an important part of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

This is a golden opportunity to view this silent film in 35mm, accompanied by our Wurlitzer Organ of similar vintage on the big screen as it was intended.

Installation of the Wurlitzer console at the Regent Theatre in 1929 by the staff of Whitehouse Bros / Photography: Howell Whitehouse / Source:

The Bard has his voice muted in this silent adaptation of The Merchant of Venice 1923. The plot finds Shylock (here named Mordecai), a Jewish merchant who has long been tormented by the citizens of Venice, demanding a mortal fee for the breach of a contract by one of his persecutors. The film was produced in the Weimar Republic in 1923 and the beautiful expressionist stylings of the era are on full display. Sumptuous cinematography, scores of extras and location shooting in Venice combine to lend grandeur to the film’s visuals. Felner’s adaptation adopts a loose approach to the original text – mixing it in with those folktales that inspired Shakespeare – shifting primary attention away from Shylock and on to the romance between a pair of young lovers, while also adding several new characters. It is an absorbing take on the play and a rare opportunity to see silent screen Shakespeare.


Screens 11am Saturday 23 April 2016
Der Kaufmann Von Venedig (The Merchant of Venice)
 1923 15+
35mm, Black and White
Silent (With Live Music on the Gallery’s 1929 Wurlitzer Organ)
85 Minutes, Germany, English Intertitles
Director/Editor: Peter Paul Felner
Script: Pietro Aretino, Peter Paul Felner, Giovanni Fiorentino
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
Cinematographers: Axel Graatkjær, Rudolph Maté
Production Co: Peter Paul Felner-Film
Print Source: Bundesarchiv

1929 Wurlitzer Organ
Wurlitzer Co., Tonawanda, NY, USA, opus 2040
Installed 1929 J.E. Dodd, Adelaide, in the Regent Theatre, Queen Street, Brisbane
Console moved to centre of pit 1944 & piano moved to left 1954 Whitehouse Bros, Brisbane
Removed 1964 to the residence of Dr Keith King, Lawson, Blue Mtns, New South Wales
Removed 2004 to storage and installed in GOMA 2007, Don Clark and W.J. Simon Pierce
3 manuals, 15 ranks extended and percussion, electro-pneumatic action

Shakespeare on Screen | Free film program
Australian Cinémathèque, Gallery of Modern Art
22 April – 25 May 2016

Australian Cinémathèque
GOMA is the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image and offers a rare opportunity to see films presented on the big screen as they were intended, and features many 35mm prints sourced from film archives around the world and screened in one of Australia’s last 35mm film venues.

Theo Angelopoulos | Free film program
15 April to 22 May 2016
Arabian Nights | Free film program
25 – 26 June 2016
Snow White | Ticketed
11 and 18 September 2016