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
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 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 »
Intolerance of the Jews was a fact of 16th Century life even in Venice, the most powerful and liberal city state in Europe.
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
In the daytime any man leaving the ghetto had to wear a red hat to mark him as a Jew.
Man in Crowd:
The Jews were forbidden to own property. So they practised usury, the lending of money at interest. This was ...
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One of William Shakespeare's finest plays is dramatically brought to the silver screen in all its splendor.
From the director of the film version of 1984, Michael Radford has created a masterpiece for everyone to enjoy time and time again.
With an outstanding cast that includes Al Pacino, (Shylock) Joseph Fiennes, (Bassanio) Jeremy Irons, (Antonio) Kris Marshall (Gratiano) and Lynn Collins, (Portia); this beautiful movie is a must see for every Shakespeare enthusiast.
The story is set in 15th century Britain when many Jews were sadly persecuted in the streets for no apparent reason. Bassanio with the help of Antonio visit a wealthy Jewish loan shark called Shylock and ask if they may borrow some money so Bassanio can visit his love, Portia. Shylock agrees but demands a pound of flesh from Antonio if he can not meet his strict payment demands.
A while later Antonio can not pay the loan and Shylock demands his pound of flesh. A ferocious court battle then takes place between the two men as Antonio's friends and family gather round to await his verdict.
This is a remarkable cinematic experience with the passionate Al Pacino at his best. Also look out for the rising young star, Kris Marshall from the hit, Love Actually. He played the part of Gratiano which such emotion and dignity.
This film, which will most certainly be up for Oscars, clearly demonstrates that Shakespeare can still entertain crowds centuries from his death.
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