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Shakespeare's Merchant (2003)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 10 December 2003 (USA)
In this dark adaptation of "The Merchant of Venice," Shakespeare's most controversial play, Jews are regularly hunted on the streets of a postmodern Venice (California) as if it were 13th ... See full summary »


Paul Wagar


William Shakespeare (play), Paul Wagar


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Credited cast:
John D. Haggerty ... Bassanio
Lorna MacNab Lorna MacNab ... Portia
Bruce Cornwell Bruce Cornwell ... Shylock
Don Stewart Don Stewart ... Antonio (as Donald Robert Stewart)
John Emmet Tracy ... Gratiano
Vanessa Claire Stewart ... Jessica (as Vanessa Claire Smith)
Michelle Haner ... Nerissa
Richard Tatum ... Prince Of Aragon
Chad Jason Chad Jason ... Lorenzo
D. Elliot Woods ... Prince Of Morocco
Brad Mays ... Tubal
Lance Arthur Smith Lance Arthur Smith ... Solanio
Steve Shields Steve Shields ... Salerio
Ben Wells ... Launcelot
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Max Amini ... Benicio


In this dark adaptation of "The Merchant of Venice," Shakespeare's most controversial play, Jews are regularly hunted on the streets of a postmodern Venice (California) as if it were 13th century Europe. In the film's opening sequences a Jewish girl is raped in broad daylight while a woman watches, gleeful, from her living room window; toughs chases a young man in a yarmulke to the beach and beat him senseless. And Shylock, the money lender, is spat upon and threatened. In this atmosphere of lawless anti-Semitism Bassanio is forced to borrow money from his lover, Antonio. But Antonio's cash is bound up in his fleet of ships and so they proceed to Shylock's, where it becomes clear that Antonio is one of the anti-Semites who has plagued Shylock on the Rialto. Shylock agrees to the loan but exacts a forfeiture: a pound of Antonio's flesh if the loan is defaulted on by even a day. Meanwhile Portia, with the help of her father's executrix, is seeking the husband who can unravel her ... Written by Victoria Brownworth, PIGLFF.

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Comedy | Drama | Romance


Not Rated

User Reviews

Horrible sound production ruins Shakespeare
15 July 2005 | by bastetg4See all my reviews

The primary reason people watch Shakespeare plays made into movies is for the dialogue. The muffled and echoey sound in this potentially good movie ruined it completely. You can't always hear what the actors are saying; I know the story line, but I still want to be able to hear the actors say the famous lines. (And yes, I'm sure it wasn't the theater's fault for the poor sound. The producer and several of the actors were present at the screening and said nothing about the sound.)

Additionally, several of the actors were very poorly cast and seem to have attended the William Shatner school of acting. Nerissa and Lancelot are especially bad. It all had a very amateurish feel.

The thing that prevents me from giving this movie a lower rating is that I admire the interpretation of the relationship between Antonio and Bassanio as one of lovers. It seems obvious - why else would Antonio go into so much debt for Bassanio, and on such terms? I have seen this interpretation quite successfully done on stage. Too bad the production values of this movie were so bad that I couldn't appreciate it.

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Release Date:

10 December 2003 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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