Set amid the racially charged politics of London's Metropolitan Police Force, Andrew Davies's deft and gripping adaptation of Othello
achieves an ideal balance of realism, contemporary relevance, and respect for the rhythms of Shakespeare's play. John Othello is a black police officer who is named commissioner after he defuses a race riot. His friend and colleague Ben Jago (Shakespeare's Iago) is furious at being passed over for the top job, and he secretly begins a plan to destroy Othello by making him believe that his new wife is having an affair.
Eamonn Walker makes Othello's tragic fall believable and moving, but the story belongs, as it often does on stage, to the villain. Christopher Eccleston's Jago is a wonderfully complex creation, defined by his wickedness but as much a victim of it as any other character. Funny, tragic, and crackling with energy, this is an unmissable performance. Credit should also go to Davies for his script--which echoes Shakespeare's without ever quoting it directly--to a strong supporting cast, and to director Geoffrey Sax, who balances the film's realism with slightly stylized touches that give more dramatic punch to key scenes. Othello offers a daring new version of a familiar story, and it succeeds both as a powerful modern drama and as a testament to Shakespeare's insight into human weaknesses. --Simon Leake
From the Back Cover
Obsession, jealousy, betrayal. A powerful black man in a white society. Acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies (Bridget Jones's Diary, Moll Flanders, Pride and Prejudice) takes these themes from Shakespeare and reworks them into an achingly intense contemporary story set in present-day London. As racial tensions threaten to explode, political forces propel John Othello (EAMONN WALKER, Unbreakable, Oz) into a high-profile public role over the head of his best friend and mentor Ben Jago (CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON, Elizabeth, The Others). Seething with jealousy, Jago maintains a facade as the loyal confidant while seizing on Othello's obsessive love for his beautiful wife, Dessie (KEELEY HAWES, The Blond Bombshell, Wives and Daughters), as the path to his destruction. DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE: production notes, cast filmographies and scene index.