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Othello (1951)

The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, History, Romance | 12 September 1955 (USA)
The Moorish general Othello is manipulated into thinking that his new wife Desdemona has been carrying on an affair with his lieutenant Michael Cassio when in reality it is all part of the scheme of a bitter ensign named Iago.

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Cast

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Storyline

Desdemona, daughter of a Venetian aristocrat, elopes with Moorish military hero Othello, to the great resentment of Othello's envious underling Iago. Alas, Iago knows Othello's weakness, and with chilling malice works on him with but too good effect... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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Powerful drama of uncontrolled human emotion! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

12 September 1955 (USA)  »

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Othello  »

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| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(re-release)| (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Trivia

When the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1952, it did so under the Moroccan flag as Orson Welles was unable to obtain American distribution. He would have to wait another 3 years before that became a possibility. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: There was once in Venice a moor, Othello, who for his merits is the affairs of war was held in great esteem. It happened that he fell in love with a young and noble lady called Desdemona, who drawn by his virtue became equally enamoured of Othello...
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Connections

Version of Othello (1920) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Concentrated Shakepseare
2 August 2006 | by (Switzerland) – See all my reviews

Othello, Moor of Venice, loves Desdemonda. Unbeknownst to him, one of his lieutenants, Iago, seething with jealousy, plans to bring him down. Iago slowly builds a web of deceit and lies around Othello that leads him to question the faithfulness of his wife and men, ultimately pushing him to far...

Many a time has a white actor portrayed black Othello. Thankfully, Welles excels in the title role, his hurt palpable. In adapting Shakespeare's play, Welles has done away with subplots he deemed unnecessary. His "Othello" boils down to the title character, his wife, Iago and bit players (and impressive numbers of extras). Fans of the text may regret the absence of a character or the significant reduction of his/her importance. It diminishes the play but enhances the film, giving it a tighter focus and a more fluid structure and running time. But as always, we expect more from an Orson Welles film.

Orson Welles is mostly celebrated for reinventing the look of film. His pictures each possess a unique aesthetic and daring camera work. Othello holds its own even when measured against the impressive Welles oeuvre, a true miracle if you are familiar with the films' history. Shooting it over years and in different locations (Morocco, Spain, etc.) with variations, often within the same scene, Welles managed to create the watertight illusion of a coherent world, leading the viewer to imagine that lavish sets and locations were available. For anyone interested in editing or any other aspect of film-making, this is an indisputable milestone in directorial resourcefulness.

Othello was Welles's second Shakespeare interpretation as star and director, soaring high above his very interesting Macbeth. He would return to the Bard one last time with his apotheosis, Chimes at Midnight. This trilogy is a gift. What a joy it is to see America's greatest director work with the world's greatest playwright...


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