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Merchant Of Venice, The (2004)

Original Title : The Merchant of Venice
Director : Michael Radford
Writer : William Shakespeare
Michael Radford
Genre : Drama
Comedy
Country : USA
Language : English
Music : Jocelyn Pook
Photography : Benoît Delhomme
MPAA Rating : Rated R
IMDB ID : 0379889
Official site : http://www.mgm.com/uk/merchantofvenice/
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poster for "Merchant Of Venice, The" by Michael Radford (2004)
Merchant Of Venice, The (2004) - Michael Radford
 

Starring

Al Pacino Shylock
Jeremy Irons Antonio
Joseph Fiennes Bassanio
Lynn Collins Portia
Zuleikha Robinson Jessica
Kris Marshall Gratiano
Charlie Cox Lorenzo
Mackenzie Crook Launcelot Gobbo
Heather Goldenhersh Nerissa
John Sessions Salerio
Gregor Fisher Solanio
Ron Cook Old Gobbo
Allan Corduner Tubal
Anton Rodgers The Duke
David Harewood Prince of Morocco
Antonio Gil-Martinez Aragon
Al Weaver Stephano
Norbert Konne Doctor Bellario
Marc Maes Cush
Jean-François Wolff German Count
Pieter Riemens English Baron
Stéphan Koziak Soldier
Tom Lieck French Nobleman
Tony Schiena Leonardo
Jules Werner Franciscan Friar
Julian Nest Clerk
Radica Jovicic 
 

Plot

An adaptation of William Shakespeare's classic play, The Merchant of Venice, fuelled by passion, intergenerational misunderstanding, hypocrisy, religious intolerance and entrapment. In the powerful and putatively liberal city state of Venice, Shylock has grown wealthy through the abomination of money-lending--the only profession open to Jewish businessmen of that time, as Christians were forbidden to do so, by their religious law. Thusly, Shylock faces indignity and danger when he ventures beyond the Jewish quarter, where, routinely, he meets upon intolerance. In the same city, though in a different world, lives Antonio, a Christian merchant beset by worry over the fate of his trading vessels and his increasing isolation from his young, carefree, best friend Bassanio. The younger man has fallen in love with the beautiful Portia, and seeks to go abroad to win her hand. When Antonio, cash-strapped but still possessed of good credit, stakes Bassanio for a loan of three thousand ducats from Shylock, a bond is sealed, the risk of which is one pound of Antonio's flesh. So when Antonio goes into debt to Shylock, now agonized as his daughter has runaway with a Christian, the angst-ridden moneylender demands a pound of his flesh.
 

Comments

It is a risky business to film such a lavish production of "The Merchant of Venice". It could be a stodgy, wooden, period piece, or it could be laughable for its excesses. This version is neither. While I am not completely sold by Al Pancino's very restrained Shylock, he does give a competent and honorable performance. Jeremy Iron's Antonio, is as always with his tortured-self roles, riveting. Some of the lesser roles seemed to be a little to much in the spirit of boisterous fun, "a boy's own Venician adventure story", but the central plot is efficiently and sympathetically moved forward through the film. It goes without saying, that the location shots, costumes, and interiors were breathtaking, almost to the point of distraction. One thing, on which I do not wish to comment on, is the anti-semetic content of the play. The film is as sympathetic to the predicament of the Jews as possible while still portraying Shylock as the instrument of his own self-destruction. It is a sad comment that four centuries later, the director of this film found it necessary to comment on his nuanced view before the premiere screening at the Toronto film fest. This is a beautiful film, and I look forward to several viewings.
 
poster for "Merchant Of Venice, The"
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Merchant Of Venice, The (2004) - Michael Radford
poster for "Merchant Of Venice, The"
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Merchant Of Venice, The (2004) - Michael Radford
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