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The Merchant of Venice (2004)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  18 February 2005 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 28,394 users   Metascore: 63/100
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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.



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Title: The Merchant of Venice (2004)

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Anton Rodgers ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

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Release Date:

18 February 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£147,709 (UK) (3 December 2004)


$205,220 (Chile) (26 May 2006)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Dustin Hoffman was interested in playing Shylock; however, when he contacted director Michael Radford about it, Al Pacino had already been cast. See more »


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 »


Bassanio: Promise me life, and I'll confess the truth.
Portia: Well then, confess, and live.
Bassanio: 'Confess' and 'love' had been the very sum of my confession.
See more »


Referenced in Leaves of Grass (2009) See more »


Song for Bassanio
Composed and Arranged by Jocelyn Pook
Words by William Shakespeare
Voice: Ben Crawley
Published by Shylock Ltd / EMI Music Publishing Ltd
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Beautiful, shocking, and above all, honest
5 December 2004 | by (nyc) – See all my reviews

Michael Radford has done an excellent job bringing this difficult play to the screen. He has taken a play with a reputation for anti-semitism, and shown us that Shakespeare knew quite well the humanity of the Jews. Radford said after the screening, and I agree, that Shylock is his first tragic hero, the first of his characters to be undone by a driving, compulsive need for revenge. He also points out, quite rightly, that a man who was anti-semitic could not have written Shylock's speech of "If you prick me, do i not bleed?" Radford is himself of Jewish descent and he has picked out the good and bad of all characters with delicacy and honesty. no character is free from flaws; no character is evil. Radford has placed the play in the 16th century, which gives a lush background of Venetian politics and decadence on which to project Shakespeare's words.

If you get a chance to hear Radford speak about the film, I highly recommend you take it, since he gives details about life in 16th century Venice that illuminate a lot of the choices he made and give considerable extra depth to the viewing. I'm hoping that the DVD will come out with extensive commentary.

Jeremy Irons does a gorgeous portrayal of Antonio, a man who resigns himself to bearing the burden of his past misdeeds. Lynn Collins, a relative unknown, gives us an absolutely flawless, stunning, and detailed job as Portia. Not only is Ms. Collins beautiful - she also gives Portia layers of intelligence and humor prior to the trial scene i've rarely seen in any production of this play. the rest of the cast also does a terrific job, with a notable performance by Kris Marshall as Gratiano, and a beautifully subtle work by Allan Corduner as Tubal, playing the foil to Shylock. Finally, while Al Pacino pulls out his usual strong (and loud) performance, his best moments are when the camera focuses on him and he says no words, but you can see all the emotions and madnesses flowing into and out of him as he perceives his fortunes changing.

If you like period movies, I cannot recommend this movie enough.

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