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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Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio,
On the day that a serial killer that he helped put away is supposed to be executed, a noted forensic psychologist and college professor receives a call informing him that he has 88 minutes left to live.
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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I saw The Merchant of Venice in London last week. Great acting by Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Finnes and Lynn Collins. Compare to other movies based on Shakespeare's play, this production has made the play so easy to understand and follow. Bravo to Michael Radford for directing such top actors. The costume and the scenery are great and since it was filmed on location in Venice it gives the film and authentic flavor. I had read the play over thirty years ago at school and the emphasis was on the characters' anti-Semitic behavior toward the Jews and the cruelty of the Christians. I do not know if this movie is going to be controversial but in any case I am sure that it will get few Oscar nominations.
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