Parents' Guide to

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

By Alyssa Ellsworth, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Sumptuous but not for everyone.

Movie R 2004 131 minutes
William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 13+

A bad movie

Is is not a good movie not even for English classes come on isn t Shakespeare a little outdated to be in classes today
age 18+

Why did the Director Add Nudity to Shakespeare? To Get an R Rating! :(

This movie is masterfully done and is very true to the text and intent of the original work of Shakespeare. Sadly they add random scenes to the play which involve prostitutes and there are several moments with full frontal female nudity which only serve to make this play rated R. They were probably only added to change the rating to R because this play does not have objectional material on its own. It is a great story and they did a wonderful job filming it and acting in it. The courtroom scene is wonderful and builds very effectively to the climax of the play. I recommend this play to any who have studied the play or will study it or who want to understand the historical struggles between Christians and Jews in various contexts. The themes of justice vs. mercy are very well illustrated and again very true to the play's original intent. I recommend it very highly. Due to the frontal nudity parents need to be aware and either address this topic or skip those scenes with their teens. The play does not need those moments at all since they are not integral to the plot in any way. I would not show this play to children. They would not understand it and the main plot involves one man trying to get revenge on another man in a very cruel way. As an educator I think it is an excellent play to study in high school and discuss the issues of racism and hate for those who are different from onself and how ridiculous it can be when one lives in a state of judging others. Due to the R rating educators should use caution and be sure that it is possible to show or only show it if there is editing or parent and administrative permission. The courtroom scene alone is worth showing - even if the whole movie cannot be shown.

This title has:

Too much sex

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (2):

Parents who wish to share Shakespeare's appeal with their older kids should be aware that this is a thorny movie with mature themes but wonderfully sketched and acted characters. Unlike perennial favorites Romeo and Juliet and others, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is not Hollywood's first choice for adaptations because of its explicit treatment of anti-Semitism. It is this play that gave rise to the term "Shylock" as a derogatory term for Jews and money-lenders. What is interesting to note is that the play boasts one of Shakespeare's most memorable heroines, the brave and intelligent Portia, who saves herself from disastrous marriages, rescues a man's life, and portions out punishment on the character who would not be merciful.

Venice is shot in rich colors and features contrasting views of simple lives -- particularly those of the devout Christian, Antonio, and the devout Jew, Shylock -- and the decadence of the world around them. Characters watch and discuss the debauchery that glides by on gondolas, the drinking and eating to excess, the prostitutes, and the masks people wear to cover their identities as they drink and romance.

Movie Details

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