068 – The Merchant of Venice (2004)

spacetime coordinates: Venice, 1596

The Merchant of Venice is a 2004 romantic drama film based on Shakespeare‘s play of the same name. It is the first full-length sound film in English of Shakespeare’s play

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 Shakespeare’s 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.

(trivia) the bare-breasted prostitutes were not put in the film to make it more risqué, but rather to add a note of historical authenticity. Venetian law at the time required all prostitutes to bare their breasts because the Christian authorities were concerned about rampant homosexuality in their city.

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imdb

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