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Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Release Date: 18-JAN-2000
Media Type: DVD
Top Customer Reviews
What can I say about Othello that hasn't already been said in dozens of dissertations already? As one of the "big four" (Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear and Othello) it has remained a benchmark for tragedies for centuries. Some people might scoff at the film's intent to make Shakespeare accessible to the lay viewer, but it truly doesn't hurt the story or interfere with Shakespeare's always delightful prose. In short, the movie outperforms any preconceived notions one might have.
The cast is wonderful. A pre-Matrix Lawrence Fishburne stars as the Moor, Irene Jakob as Desdemona, and the infallible Kenneth Branaugh as Iago, Shakespeare's most complex and calculating villain. Often in Shakespeare plays, the villain is more interesting than the hero, and that is certainly true here. Branaugh steals every scene he is in with his coldly malevolent performance, and his asides to the audience are drenched in dread and rage. One can nearly pity the man, he comes off as so tortured. It is perhaps the best performance I've ever seen out of an actor, period. Fishburne was pretty much a nobody when the film was made, but that doesn't stop him from holding his own with Brannaugh and churning out the iambic pentameter. He hits his marks very well and is very convincing when it comes to acting with passion. Irene Jakob is not necessarily the choice I would have made for Desdemona. I would have chosen someone with a more coquettish personality.Read more ›
Branagh's Iago is the soul of charming evil, while Fishburne's Othello is deeply moving as a man struggling against a jealousy that ultimately overwhelms him.
A third performance that rates special mention is that of Desdemona's maid (a fine actress whose name I do not recall). Although this character has virtually no lines for more than the first half of the film, she adds a sad, cynical counterpoint to Desdemona's romantic idealism.
Also, the production values--the setting, cinematography, and costumes--are excellent and serve the film well.
Iago's changes aren't simply when Othello is around, but the changes are the same for when Iago deals with Roderigo. In the scenes with Roderigo, Iago has to perform doubly hard because he's being partially truthful with Iago. He's showing part of his true motives, but he still has to hide them to some extent to convince Roderigo to do his bidding. The scenes between Branagh and Michael Maloney probably impressed me the most. Roderigo may have been gullible or easily convinced, but Iago was still convincing and persuasive enough to move Roderigo from absolute hatred and distrust to absolute loyalty and thankfulness. In one scene, Roderigo is threatening to kill Iago and by the end of the scene, they're hugging and Iago can barely convince Roderigo to leave his side.Read more ›
See Olivier's version first, but I DEFINITELY RECOMMEND this version, because of its faithfulness to the text, while taking a few liberties (every movie done from a play by Shakespeare has those) and the acting, ESPECIALLY by Branagh as the ruthless ancient of the Moor, seeking revenge and inciting jealousy to achieve his sinister goal. Shame that he gets his comeuppance. Rated PG-13 for brief nudity.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Follows the play well. I love Iago's asides where he looks directly at the camera; it's actually quite funny!Published 8 days ago by crystal
Last year I could show a free version of this off YouTube to my AP Lit class. This year it's gone and I had to finally download a copy. Read morePublished 12 days ago by M. Verdun
Given as a gift to a Shakespear lover. He was not impressed by either Lawrence Fishburn or the director's interpretation.Published 23 days ago by Marcie Hoye Cumberland
Love that Kenneth B. is a purist. I used parts of this movie in teaching the play Othello in class to high school students. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Amanda L Henry
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