ⓘ The Merchant of Venice (2004 film)


ⓘ The Merchant of Venice (2004 film)

The Merchant of Venice is a 2004 romantic drama film based on Shakespeares play of the same name. It is the first full-length sound film in English of Shakespeares play - other versions are videotaped productions which were made for television, including John Sichels 1973 version and Jack Golds 1980 BBC production.

The title character is the merchant Antonio Jeremy Irons, not the Jewish moneylender Shylock Al Pacino who is the more prominent character. This adaptation follows the text, but omits much. Director Michael Radford believed that Shylock was Shakespeares first great tragic hero who reaches a catastrophe due to his own flaws. The film begins with text and a montage of how the Jewish community is abused by the Christian population of Venice and brings attention to the fact that, as a convert, Shylock would have been cast out of the Jewish ghetto in Venice.

A co-production between the United Kingdom, Italy, and Luxembourg, The Merchant of Venice was screened non-competitively at the 61st edition of the Venice Film Festival on 4 September 2004 in what was touted as its world premiere the film in fact was screened 3 September 2004 at the Telluride Film Festival.


1. Plot

The movie begins with Antonio talking to two men, Solario and Salerio. Antonio tells them he is sad, and that there is no specific reason why. We meet Bassanio, Gratiano and Lorenzo, and we find out Bassanio needs money to court a beautiful woman named Portia. Antonio agrees to help Bassanio and gets a loan from a Jewish money lender named Shylock. Shylock agrees to the bond, with the condition that if he is not repaid, he gets a pound of flesh.


2. Cast

  • Joseph Fiennes as Bassanio
  • Jeremy Irons as Antonio
  • John Sessions as Salerio
  • Charlie Cox as Lorenzo
  • Zuleikha Robinson as Jessica
  • Heather Goldenhersh as Nerissa
  • Kris Marshall as Gratiano
  • Ron Cook as Old Gobbo
  • Mackenzie Crook as Launcelot Gobbo
  • David Harewood as Prince of Morocco
  • Allan Corduner as Tubal
  • Anton Rodgers as The Duke
  • Al Pacino as Shylock
  • Lynn Collins as Portia
  • Jules Werner as Franciscan Friar
  • Gregor Fisher as Solanio

3. Reception

The Merchant of Venice received generally positive reviews; it has a "fresh" rating of 72% at Rotten Tomatoes based on 124 critic reviews, with the consensus, "A respectable if uneven take on the Bards The Merchant of Venice." On Metacritic the film has an average score of 63/100. Most critics praised both the interpretation of the Shylock character by Michael Radford and Al Pacino and the dark, realistic look of the streets of Venice, for which production designer Bruno Rubeo was honoured by the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists. Reception to the films treatment of antisemitism was mixed, with some critics praising Radfords contextualizing choices but feeling that they were nonetheless unable to fully prevent Shylock from being an antisemitic caricature,and others feeling that Shylocks villainy was sanitized in order to make him into an overly sympathetic victim of prejudice. The film was noted for its emphasis on the love triangle aspect of Bassanios relationships with Antonio and Portia, including a kiss between Bassanio and Antonio.

In 2005, the film had a Royal Premiere in the presence of Prince Charles and received a BAFTA nomination for Best Costume Design.

Its worldwide theatrical gross was about $21.3 million, with a production budget of $30 million.