Othello (1995 film)

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Directed by Oliver Parker
Produced by David Barron
Written by William Shakespeare
Starring Laurence Fishburne
Irène Jacob
Kenneth Branagh
Nathaniel Parker
Michael Maloney
Anna Patrick
Nicholas Farrell
Indra Ové
Michael Sheen
André Oumansky
Philip Locke
John Savident
Gabriele Ferzetti
Pierre Vaneck
Music by Charlie Mole
Cinematography David Johnson
Edited by Tony Lawson
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
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.


This film is an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Othello. Othello is a Moor who has left his hometown Venice to fight against the Turks on the island of Cyprus. During the battle, he was accompanied by his faithful lieutenant, Cassio. As the film opens, Othello is returning to Venice from the long fight against the Turks. With much excitement, he meets with his love, Desdemona.

Iago, Othello's trusted companion, envies Othello's life and plans to ruin it 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 Iago's wife, Emilia, enters the bedroom. Emilia then tells Othello the truth behind Iago's lies and he realizes what he has done. In despair, Othello stabs and wounds Iago. Othello then kills himself, and Iago is taken away to be tortured and executed.


Main article: Othello

The film, shot in Italy, follows the story of the play closely, but cuts many lines. In addition it adds scenes not in the play, including 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.



The film was a bomb at the box office, grossing only $2.1 million in the United States on its $11 million budget[3] (however, it had a very limited theater count). 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."[4] 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.[5]


  1. ^ Othello (1989)
  2. ^ Othello (1980)
  3. ^ Othello (1995) - Box office / business
  4. ^ "Fishburne and Branagh Meet Their Fate in Venice", New York Times, Dec. 14, 1995
  5. ^ Othello (1995) - Awards

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