THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
Michael Radford (IL POSTINO) approaches Shakespeare's classic play with an expert hand, magnificently drawing out its full conversation al meaning for contemporary audiences, thanks to his deft direction and stunning performances from a principal cast of actors including Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes, Lynn Collins and Kris Marshall.
In 16th century Venice, a young Bassanio needs a loan of 3,000 ducats so he can properly woo Portia, a wealthy heiress. His Christian friend, Antonio, who has invested in ships presently at sea, enlists the services of Shylock, a Jewish usurer who offers Bassanio a short-term loon. Shylock's deep-seated hatred for Antonio-a result of the insulting treatment he has received from him in the past-in spires Shylock into striking a frightening bargain: the money must be repaid in three months, or Shylock will exact a pound of flesh from Antonio. The merchant agrees, confident in the return of the ships before the appointed date of repayment.
Breathtaking tableaus of the liberal city-state of Venice cut easily to the murky and rainy maze of alleyways, providing the setting for this blistering version of one of Shakespeare's most disturbing works, owing to the story's essential nature of anti-Semitism and religious intolerance. Radford's retelling of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, an d the performances of this dream cast, confront this material in all of its comic, complex and fiery conviction.