Othello (1995 film)

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Othello
Othelloposter.jpg
Directed by Oliver Parker
Produced by David Barron
Written by William Shakespeare
Starring
Music by Charlie Mole
Cinematography David Johnson
Edited by Tony Lawson
Production
company
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
December 15, 1995 (1995-12-15)
Running time
123 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $11 million
Box office $2,844,379 (United States)

Othello is a 1995 film based on William Shakespeare's tragedy of the same name. It was directed by Oliver Parker and stars Laurence Fishburne as Othello, Irène Jacob as Desdemona, and Kenneth Branagh as Iago. This is the first cinematic reproduction of the play released by a major studio that casts an African American actor to play the role of Othello, although low-budget independent films of the play starring Ted Lange[1] and Yaphet Kotto[2] predated it.

Plot[edit]

This film is an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Othello. Othello is a Moor who has secretly married his native Venetian lover Desdemona, is assigned to fight against a Turkish invasion attempt on the island of Cyprus. During the battle, he was accompanied by his faithful lieutenant, Cassio. When Othello finally arrives at Cyprus, however, the Turkish invasion fleet has been wrecked by a storm, and, reunited with Desdemona, who had volunteered herself to go with him, leads his men and the people of Cyprus in a celebration.

Iago, Othello's trusted companion and ensign, envies Othello's prosperous life and Cassio's lieutenancy and, convinced that both of them had slept with his own wife, Emilia, plans to ruin both by manipulating Othello into believing that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio and is pregnant with Cassio's child. He arouses Othello's suspicion and jealousy gradually and then plants Desdemona's handkerchief in Cassio's clothing for Othello to find. When he does, he is convinced of Desdemona's infidelity and, in a rage, decides to kill both her and Cassio.

Othello smothers Desdemona, who dies just as Emilia enters the bedroom. Emilia then tells Othello the truth behind Iago's lies and he realizes what he has done. The authorities and Othello turn on Iago, and, after a running fight, capture and beat him. In despair, Othello stabs and wounds Iago. Othello then kills himself, and Iago is taken away to be tortured and executed.

Adaptation[edit]

The film, shot in Italy, follows the story of the play closely, but cuts many lines. In addition it adds silent scenes not in the play, including the return of Othello and the marriage at the beginning, a sex scene between Othello and Desdemona, dreams in which Othello imagines Desdemona's supposed affair with Cassio, a scene in which Desdemona dances for Othello, a scene in an infirmary where Roderigo and Cassio are treated for their wounds, and a final scene in which the bodies of those killed are buried at sea.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

The film was a bomb at the box office, grossing only $2.1 million in the United States on its $11 million budget.[citation needed] However, it received largely positive reviews, especially for Branagh's Iago. Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times "Mr. Branagh's superb performance, as the man whose Machiavellian scheming guides the story of Othello's downfall, guarantees this film an immediacy that any audience will understand."[3] Branagh was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance, in the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role category.[4]

As of December 2017, the film holds a rating of 67% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 39 reviews with the consensus: "Perhaps less than the sum of its parts, Othello is still highly entertaining, and features excellent performances from Laurence Fishburne and Kenneth Branagh."[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Othello". 1 May 1989 – via www.imdb.com. 
  2. ^ "Othello" – via www.imdb.com. 
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (14 December 1995). "FILM REVIEW;Fishburne and Branagh Meet Their Fate in Venice" – via NYTimes.com. 
  4. ^ "Othello" – via www.imdb.com. 
  5. ^ "Othello". 

External links[edit]