The Merchant of Venice

Drama | English | 131 minutes


In 16th-century Venice, Bassanio, a young Venetian, is planning to travel to Belmont to woo the beautiful and wealthy Portia. Bassanio approaches his friend Antonio for a loan to pay for his trip. Antonio’s cargo ships are  at sea so he lacks the funds. To help Bassanio,  Antonio decides to borrow the money from Shylock, a local money-lender. Because Antonio spat on and insulted Shylock a few days earlier, a revengeful  Shylock stipulates if the loan is not repaid by a certain date, Shylock will receive a pound of Antonio’s flesh. All of Antonio’s ships are lost at sea and he cannot repay Shylock by the due date. An outraged Portia, now Antonio’s wife, petitions the court   to nullify the contract since she is offering to settle the loan. Will Shylock render mercy and accept Portia’s offer or will he extract from Antonio what he feels he’s owed: a pound of Antonio’s flesh.

Al Pacino (Shylock) / Jeremy Irons (Antonio) / Joseph Fiennes (Bassanio) / Lynn Collins (Portia)
Why Stream This Film?
Many find Shakespeare’s depiction of the money-lending Shylock to be anti-Semitic. It might be a reason why this brilliant play is not performed more frequently. In this production, Michael Radford shrewdly introduces text and montages of how the Jewish community was abused by Christians in Venice. Jews became money-lenders because they were prohibited from participating in other forms of work. 
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 71%
  • Metacritic Score: 63
  • London Critics Circle Film Awards: Nominated, Best Adapted Screenplay (Michael Radford)
  • BAFTA Awards: Nominated, Best Costume Design (Sammy Sheldon)
THE MERCHANT of VENICE is an exceptional example of Shakespeare on film. It combines a strict fidelity to the play’s mood and setting with some bold, interpretive decisions that enrich the story. All movies, in a sense, try to offer audiences a whole other world, but this one does it with thoroughness and generosity.
Mick LaSalle

Francisco Chronicle

THE MERCHANT of VENICE is intelligent without being showily clever and motivated more by genuine fascination with the play’s language and ideas. Watching the film is like seeing a gallery of Renaissance paintings come to life.

The New York Times

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