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Showing 1-10 of 166 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 235 reviews
on March 29, 2015
The main strength of this film version of Shakespeare's "Othello, the Moor of Venice" is its acting performances. Lawrence Fishburne conveys the complex naivete (Is that an oxymoron?) of the title character, and Irene Jacob radiates the innocence and beauty one associates with Desdemona. However, the best acting performance of all is Kenneth Branagh as Iago. His performance, more than anything else, makes this version compelling if flawed. Many have argued (as I would) that the play really is more about Iago than Othello, and Branagh's performance really is the emotional center of this film. Whether or not the director intended it that way, I don't know. But it really is the best thing about this film.

My main criticism of this version is that I got the feeling, at times, that the director was trying to make a noir melodrama. At least, that's what the cinematography, lighting and time can make it seem. Sometimes I wondered whether the director trusted the emotional power of the play or the actors' performances, which are more than enough to make this film worth watching--and the reasons why I've shown it to several of my classes.
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on June 27, 2017
[Note: I use this film as a teacher, so the review here really thinks about that rather than viewing this film as an everyday viewer. It's pretty hard for me to separate the way I use the film from how I think about it at this point, so hopefully this will be helpful to some other teachers. Yes, there is some dirty bits if you're showing this to high schoolers. Nothing all that saucy, given the content of the play.] I wasn't a big fan of this film when I first watched in it 1995. I've used snippets of it since for work in the classroom, but this year I reviewed the whole film and showed more of it than I usually do when teaching. I realized there's a lot more here to work with upon this viewing, and while it is certainly reflective of 90s style for these kinds of films, it stands up as a good guide to both Shakespeare and adaptation analysis because the film style is something students can get a handle on, and isn't in itself trying to be showy in the way that, say, Baz Luhrmann's _Romeo and Juliet_ is. My students also liked the version far more than I thought they would, and they were able to use it and write about it in ways that made me feel I should continue to use it in class. While in 95 I felt that the film stripped away too much Shakespeare, I now feel that it's abbreviations and cuts are pretty well done, and that it offers really nice comparisons to the early silent film as well as later, more radical adaptations like _Omkara_. Branagh's Iago is pretty slithery--in ways that he doesn't usually let himself be when he's directing himself as the good guy--and the film is fun as a result and has some nice obvious actorly/filmic touches that students can really navigate well. Fishburne's Othello is an interesting entry into the character's problematic race history in performance, and the choices made regarding his accent and clothing provide some good fodder for discussing the idea of Othello's moorish qualities as presented in different cultural moments.
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on June 13, 2015
My sophomore English class studied Othello (they loved it!). The movie is closely aligned to the play, however, there are a few scenes that were inserted by the director or where he took artistic liberties. As a follow up to the study of the play, it was a great supplementary piece (and the most recent film and the only one where Othello is of African decent and not a white man in black face).
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on July 12, 2016
This is a complex tragedy about revenge and jealousy. Othello is a general and celebrated leader who passes over Iago for promotion in favor of Cassio, an honorable lieutenant. Iago seeks revenge by telling Brabantio, Othello's boss,that he has tricked his daughter into marrying him. They all meet and Othello and Desdemona tells her father that they married for love.they are believed and Iago seks another way to destroy Othello. This time Iago tells Othello that his wife is involved with Cassio. Othello foolishly believes this lie and kills his wife. Later Othello learns that Iago lied, and broken in heart and shame, he commits suicide. This play is well produced and acted with Lawrence Fishbourne in the lead role. this is a multi-layered tragedy. Othello is a moor- black, and Desdemona is white, and while I was reading I thought about that famous football player. Richard Shaw is the author of Writing As Consolation (Audible.Com.
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on April 11, 2017
Great video to use in conjunction with the play by Shakespeare. It is Rated R, for mild scenes of nudity, and violence. However, it does not compare to what the students see and her today. I sent a permission slip home just in case. It follows closely to the play, although some scenes and dialogue are omitted, and some scenes are made more dramatic to make the movie more exciting.
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on March 15, 2016
I think most people who buy this want to supplement reading the play for a class assignment. This version has great acting and sound, so it is easy to follow (for Shakespeare). But it deviates from the play quite a bit, so it's a very good supplement but not a substitute. Also, WAY overpriced as a purchase. Finally, Amazon is not clear what you can do when you rent. Can you watch twice during your rental period? Can you back up and fast forward? If not, what are you renting?
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on October 18, 2016
Branagh triumphs again! Laurence Fishburne is excellent as the Moor in this well told production of Shakespeare's tragedy! The casting is spot on, and the production quality is stellar!
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on November 5, 2014
I go back & forth in trying to decide which is the greater version of "Othello," this film directed by Oliver Parker or Laurence Olivier's. I love them both for different reasons. Laurence Fishburne sizzles in the title role, but the emphasis, as it should be, is on Iago, brillantly understood by Kenneth Branagh. Iago is more than Machiavellian; he is the nexus of evil who sucks the life out of everyone, for the simple pleasure of it. Iago & Aaron in "Titus Andronicus" are Shakespeare's most hideous villains.

Olivier's 1965 version may seem dated to younger audiences, but it is thrilling, avante-guard, & more physical. Othello is the nobler soul, if you will. I couldn't take my eyes off him. Olivier gave a command performance.
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on June 2, 2017
Laurence Fishburne is spectacular in this, and the actress who plays his wife is stunning.
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on March 24, 2014
I teach an introductory core (required) course in Literature and Composition at a top-rated Catholic University in San Diego. My particular focus in literature is a study of how voices of underrepresented populations in American/English literature can contribute to our present world-understanding. My desire is to show how marginalization, misogyny in almost all cultures and religions, people thought to be trustworthy who use others' trust to manipulate their own ends, and how an innocence that is naivete can lead to such a tragedy. I love that Laurence Fishburne is so gifted as an actor that he brings to the role of Othello an authenticity I've never seen before; I love that the supporting actors are so authentic that they still bring tears to my own eyes with their remarkable performances. I highly recommend this DVD to those interested in presenting Shakespeare's masterpiece to 21st century college audiences.
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