|The Merchant of Venice|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Radford|
|Produced by||Cary Brokaw
|Screenplay by||Michael Radford|
|Based on||The Merchant of Venice
by William Shakespeare
|Music by||Jocelyn Pook|
|Edited by||Lucia Zucchetti|
UK Film Council
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Classics
Optimum Releasing (UK)
Istituto Luce (Italy)
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—other versions are videotaped productions which were made for television, including John Sichel's 1973 version and Jack Gold's 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 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.
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 Bard's 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.
Its worldwide theatrical gross was about $21.3 million, with a production budget of $30 million.