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The Merchant of Venice

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Original title
The Merchant of Veniceaka
  • William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice
  • William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice
Running time
131 min.
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Michael Radford (Play: William Shakespeare)
Jocelyn Pook
Benoit Delhomme
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Spice Factory / Navidi Wilde Productions / Avenue Pictures / De Luxe Production / Dania Film / Istituto Luce / Immagine e Cinema / UK Film Council
Drama | Costume Drama. 16th Century
Movie Groups
Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice
Synopsis / Plot
Venice, 16th century. Bassanio asks Antonio to lend him 3,000 ducats so that he may woo Portia, heiress to her father Belmont’s fortune. Antonio is rich, but his money is tied up in foreign ventures. He therefore turns to Shylock the Jew, who has been waiting to take his revenge on Antonio for some time. Hence the frightening bond: if the money is not paid back within three months, Shylock will be given a pound of Antonio’s flesh. According to her father’s will, Portia can marry no man unless he passes the test of the three caskets. Bassanio chooses the right casket and weds Portia. News arrives that Antonio’s ships have been wrecked, and that he cannot honour his debt to Shylock. The matter is brought before the Doge’s court, and Shylock demands his pound of flesh. Antonio is bound by law to consent. However, Portia arrives in Venice disguised as an advocate and saves the merchant’s flesh and honour thanks to a legal quibble: Shylock may cut his pound of flesh from Antonio, but without so much as spilling a drop of blood.

Michael Raford about his movie:
«When I read The Merchant of Venice for the first time, I thought it was the story of people, neither good nor bad, whom life’s circumstances had put on a collision course with each other. I thought they were vulnerable and selfish at the same time, like all human beings. If we go beyond appearances, without any form of prejudice, we discover that these characters have no alternative, in terms of society, culture and situation: they can act no differently. They are trapped in the world they live in, just like us. I tried to reconstruct a world as faithful as possible to the one described in the play for at least two reasons. First, I’m not interested in dressing Shakespeare up in modern garb, and I think that if you change the historical context you’re personally re-elaborating the work. Second, I’m reluctant to re-contextualise period objects, for example changing swords into pistols. Shakespeare’s writing has its roots in a specific culture: England in the 16th century. If you start with this premise and you tune into that society, then you can see Shakespeare’s humanistic grandeur in all its universality. And you discover that, over the last four hundred years, human nature has not changed at all» - Michael Radford-
2004: Nominated BAFTA Awards. Best Costume Design
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