The Merchant of Venice (2004)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  18 February 2005 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 28,637 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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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?


Director Michael Radford was required to cut the kiss between Antonio and Bassanio for the "Edited for Television" version of this film. See more »


When the Jews are carrying the Torah around the synagogue, the prayers and garb is appropriate. The Torah would only be taken out to be read. Traditional Jews only read Torah in the morning, when the light for reading would be best before the advent of artificial lighting. Therefore the Torah would not have been out at that time of day. See more »


Bassanio: Why, I were best to cut my left hand off And swear I lost the ring defending it.
See more »


Version of Le marchand de Venise (1953) See more »


With Wand'ring Steps
Composed and Arranged by Jocelyn Pook
Featuring Andreas Scholl
Words by John Milton
Published by Shylock Ltd / EMI Music Publishing Ltd
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The Merchant has been reinvented - with a deft hand
12 February 2005 | by See 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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