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The Merchant of Venice (2004)

Trailer
2:18 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Michael Radford

Writers:

William Shakespeare (play), Michael Radford (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Al Pacino ... Shylock
Jeremy Irons ... Antonio
Joseph Fiennes ... Bassanio
Lynn Collins ... Portia
Zuleikha Robinson ... Jessica
Kris Marshall ... Gratiano
Charlie Cox ... Lorenzo
Heather Goldenhersh ... Nerissa
Mackenzie Crook ... Launcelot Gobbo
John Sessions ... Salerio
Gregor Fisher ... Solanio
Ron Cook ... Old Gobbo
Allan Corduner ... Tubal
Anton Rodgers ... The Duke
David Harewood ... Prince of Morocco
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Storyline

Venice, 1596. Melancholy Antonio loves the youthful Bassanio, so when Bassanio asks for 3000 ducats, Antonio says yes before knowing it's to sue for the hand of Portia. His capital tied up in merchant ships at sea, Antonio must go to Shylock, a Jewish moneylender he reviles. Shylock wraps his grudge in kindness, offering a three-month loan at no interest, but if not repaid, Antonio will owe a pound of flesh. The Jew's daughter elopes with a Christian, whetting Shylock's hatred. While Bassanio's away wooing Portia, Antonio's ships founder, and Shylock demands his pound of flesh. With court assembled and a judgment due, Portia swings into action to save Bassanio's friend. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Michael Radford was required to cut the kiss between Antonio and Bassanio for the 'Edited for Television' version of this film. The relationship between the two men is ambiguous in Shakespeare's original play, but clearly homosexual in Radford's adaptation. See more »

Goofs

When Basanio and his entourage are walking with Portia to inspect the chests they pass a pond with a black swan. Black swans are from Australia and weren't known to Europe until after their discovery in western Australia by Dutch explorers in 1697. The Merchant of Venice takes place more than 100 years earlier. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Title Card: Intolerance of the Jews was a fact of 16th Century life even in Venice, the most powerful and liberal city state in Europe.
Title Card: By law the Jews were forced to live in the old walled foundry or 'Geto' area of the city. After sundown the gate was locked and guarded by Christians
Title Card: In the daytime any man leaving the ghetto had to wear a red hat to mark him as a Jew.
Man in Crowd: Usurer! Usurer!
Title Card: The Jews were forbidden to own property. So they practised usury, the lending of money at interest. This was ...
[...]
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Connections

Version of The Merchant of Venice/II (1947) See more »

Soundtracks

You Drop Manna
Violin Leader: David Juritz
Violin(s): Gabrielle Lester, Ian Humphries, Jonathan Evans-Jones, Julian Leaper, Karin Leishman, Maya Magub (Maya Magub), Paul Willey
Published By Shylock Ltd. / EMI Music Publishing Ltd.
© 2004 Decca Music Group Limited
(p) Jocelyn Pook Ltd. /2004 Decca Music Group Limited
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User Reviews

 
The Merchant has been reinvented - with a deft hand
12 February 2005 | by philipedwardsSee all my reviews

I am always impressed when a director (and this case director/screenwriter) takes a piece of classical text - and makes it come alive. Sure, Shakespeare's text can give you goosebumps even when hammered out with self-importance, but to see a production where true inventiveness makes wonderful words even more so - by the provision of context or nuance not found in the stage directions is simply awe-inspiring. There are many troubling things about the play. It is a racist play about racism - and that still sticks. I have never accepted Jessica's desertion of her father without any acceptable reason. I have never accepted the Christians' position of sanctimonious self-righteousness. But, brilliantly, there is a text prologue which helps us understand the times and politics in which the story is set, and mercifully, much of Jessica's part is cut.

The text is quite stripped down with many passages cut. But, I only noticed one line which was cut at the moment when I expected to hear it - and it was replaced by a look that said it all. This economy and judicious editing has given us a gripping movie - not just a film of the play.

And at last, there is a rationale as to why Antonio is so loyal and generous to the undeserving/unrelated Bassanio - you can almost feel Antonio's pulse start to race when he catches glimpse of Bassanio passing by in a gondola, or arriving for a visit. But it is as subtle as that - no more. I was spellbound.

There were many other highlights. I felt the arguments during the trial to be heartbreaking. And, the suitors' trials are hilarious.

Add all that to glorious cinematography and costumes that resonated with the times, and you'll understand why I can't wait to see it again. And again.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

MGM [UK] | Sony Pictures Classics | See more »

Country:

USA | Italy | Luxembourg | UK

Language:

Italian | Arabic | English

Release Date:

18 February 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice See more »

Filming Locations:

Thiene, Vicenza, Veneto, Italy See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$69,868, 2 January 2005

Gross USA:

$3,765,585

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$21,560,182
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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