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Orson Welles' Othello
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- 22-minute "Restoring Othello" featurette
Top Customer Reviews
Incredibly, "Othello" was filmed over a three year period from 1949 to 1952, in nine different cities in Morocco and Italy. Welles never did assemble adequate financing for the film, so he was forced to shoot in a series of small spurts. They would work until his money ran out, then he would rush off to take acting jobs to raise cash to start filming again.
One scene-between Othello (Orson Welles) and Iago (Michael MacLiammoir) on the beach-starts on one continent and ends on another, a full year later. Somehow, though, Welles kept the whole picture alive in his head. He also improvised when he had to. On the day when they were to film Iago's attempt to murder Cassio (Michael Laurence), the necessary costumes had not yet arrived. Welles quickly moved the action to a Turkish bath where he could dress his actors in only towels and sheets. It is now one of the most effective scenes of the film.
As was typical of Welles, he took many liberties with Shakespeare's text, trimming it to a tight ninety-one minutes and cutting out the comedy. The story now begins and ends with the funerals of Desdemona (Suzanne Cloutier) and Othello; scenes not contained in the orginal, but done here to good effect. (For those of an auteurist bent, "Citizen Kane" and "Mr. Arkadin" also open with the deaths of the main character.Read more ›
With Othello, Welles had virtually no backing apart from his own money. Subsequently, he spent alot of time acting in other people's movies to make the expensive film costs. This is why "Othello" took so long to make. Welles had nightmarish problems with refilming when actors couldn't make the call after the long waiting periods (read Michael Macliammoir's "Put Money In Thy Purse"-his diaries during the making of "Othello"). Therefore, Mr Welles travelled through thick & thin to give us this incredible movie. From the first image of the funeral, the angles & the look of the film is staggering to say the least. Macliammoir is brilliant as Iago. The part where he is hoisted up in a cage, should be one of those scenes they always flash in a greatest scenes montage. Orson is in great Shakspearian form & shines through all his scenes. I don't think any film maker today could come close to this film's stunning beauty & innovative camera shots. To think it was made on a low budget makes you reconsider the quality of something like the "Blair Witch Project", considering the 1950's had yet to invent the low costing video camera. But this is besides the point.
"Othello" is THE most underated film in the history of movie making, and it IS a true masterpiece. No wonder it won an award at Cannes at the time. God bless Welles' lovely daughter, Beatrice for restoring & caring for the film.Read more ›
Anyway, on to the film. "Othello's" existence helps disprove the charges of profligacy and "fear of completion" that plagued Welles' career after "Citizen Kane." Shot over four years in Morocco and Italy, and financed largely by Welles himself, "Othello" manages to avoid a low-budget look, thanks largely to virtuoso editing that masks the incongruities of time and space. Welles' powers of invention are on full display here, most obviously in the famous Turkish bath scene (an improvised set necessitated by a lack of costumes). Set designer Alexandre Trauner's astute choice of Moroccan and Venetian locations instantly establishes a geographic authenticity; Welles initially expolits them for all their stark beauty before retreating into noirish interiors, underscoring Othello's descent into darkness.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The movie starts with the scene after the events of the story. Without dialogue, we see the doomed Othello and Desdemona in a funeral procession, while Iago is placed in a... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Long Tom
Seven Reasons to Watch this Movie
1. The Opening 4 ½ Minutes
The film opens with a view of a man laid out for a funeral, shown from just above his head. Read more
Orson Welles did a brilliant job on this. Let's start with the fact that I have never seen Othello performed before, and have only read pieces of it. Read morePublished on May 14, 2012 by Barbara Frederick
Orson Welles worked on and off for four years to complete his remarkable adaptation of OTHELLO, which was filmed in Morocco and Italy. Read morePublished on February 6, 2012 by Annie Van Auken
Between 1949 and 1951 Orson Welles filmed Shakespeare's Othello on s shoestring budget and often with his own funds earned for acting on other films. Read morePublished on February 22, 2007 by Bryan A. Pfleeger
You have to wonder how Orson Welles would ever have to spend a penny of his own to make a movie after Citizen Kane, but I suppose Shakespeare was not considered worthy of expense... Read morePublished on October 28, 2005 by Bernard Chapin
This legendary filmmaker was in his late thirties (38) when he adapted to screen this colossal adaptation of Othello. Read morePublished on September 12, 2005 by Hiram Gòmez Pardo Venezuela
While I have great respect for Welles as both an actor and director, the fact that this was done more or less as a pet project of his over several years is readily apparent. Read morePublished on January 14, 2005 by JJK Bard Fan