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.
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
The bare-breasted prostitutes were not put in the film to make it more risqué, but rather to add a note of historical authenticity. Venetian law at the time required all prostitutes to bare their breasts because the Christian authorities were concerned about rampant homosexuality in their city. See more »
When Portia and Nerissa arrive disguised as s judge and a clerk they have a letter with them. When the duke reads this letter out loud it can be clearly seen that there is also text written on the back of the letter. The duke, however, finishes reading the letter without turning the letter around. See more »
When I told you my state was nothing, I should then have told you that I was worse than nothing; for, indeed, I have engag'd myself to a dear friend, engag'd my friend to his mere enemy, to feed my means.
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I saw The Merchant of Venice in London last week. Great acting by Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Finnes and Lynn Collins. Compare to other movies based on Shakespeare's play, this production has made the play so easy to understand and follow. Bravo to Michael Radford for directing such top actors. The costume and the scenery are great and since it was filmed on location in Venice it gives the film and authentic flavor. I had read the play over thirty years ago at school and the emphasis was on the characters' anti-Semitic behavior toward the Jews and the cruelty of the Christians. I do not know if this movie is going to be controversial but in any case I am sure that it will get few Oscar nominations.
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