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William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

Rating:R (for some nudity)
Genre:Drama, Comedy
Release Date:December 29, 2004
Running time:127 minutes
Cast:Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes, Lynn Collins, Zuleikha Robinson
Director:Michael Radford
Producer:Cary Brokaw, Barry Navidi, Michael Lionello Cowan, Jason Piette
Writer:Michael Radford, William Shakespeare
Distributor:Sony Pictures Classics

Description: An adaptation of William Shakespeare's classic play, "The Merchant of Venice," fuelled by passion, intergenerational misunderstanding, hypocrisy, religious intolerance and entrapment. In the powerful and putatively liberal city-state of Venice, Shylock has grown wealthy through the abomination of money lending--the only profession open to Jewish businessmen of that time, as Christians were forbidden to do so, by their religious law. Thusly, Shylock faces indignity and danger when he ventures beyond the Jewish quarter, where, routinely, he meets upon intolerance. In the same city, though in a different world, lives Antonio, a Christian merchant beset by worry over the fate of his trading vessels and his increasing isolation from his young, carefree, best friend Bassanio. The younger man has fallen in love with the beautiful Portia, and seeks to go abroad to win her hand. When Antonio, cash-strapped but still possessed of good credit, stakes Bassanio for a loan of three thousand ducats from Shylock, a bond is sealed, the risk of which is one pound of Antonio's flesh. So when Antonio goes into debt to Shylock, now agonized as his daughter has runaway with a Christian, the angst-ridden moneylender demands a pound of his flesh.

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