Details

Produced by Castle Rock, Columbia & Sony, 1995. Directed by Oliver Parker (Nat's brother), and co-starring Laurence Fishburne as Othello, Kenneth Branagh as Iago, and Irene Jacob as Desdemona. Based on the Shakespeare play. Nat plays Cassio.

 

 

Plot Summary

Othello, a Moor, has risen to high rank in the army of Venice due to his exceptional merit. He secretly woos and marries his love, Desdemona, much to her father's chagrin. Iago, who loathes Othello, determines to destroy him by planting the seed of jealousy: suggesting that Cassio, Othello's loyal lieutenant, is having an affair with Desdemona. At first, Othello resists believing it, but his own insecurity and jealous instinct works on him until he acts. Like most of Shakespeare's tragedies, the play ends extremely badly for all.

General Review

If you want to see the Shakespeare of the Twenty-First century, you can't do better than this Othello, Branagh's Hamlet, and Romeo + Juliet (starring DiCaprio and Danes). Laurence Fishburne is so magnificent in this role that after watching him Olivier and Welles in face paint just seem downright silly. He has the physical presence of a mighty warrior, as well as playing the emotional tone of the character with stunning authenticity and pathos. Branagh as Iago is simply brilliant. There were one or two places where I felt the 'speaking to the camera' thing was a tad overdone, but in general Branagh's is also a definitive performance for his character. I love what Oliver Parker did with Othello's imaginings, cutting to clips that show Desdemona and Cassio intertwined really brings out the insecurity in Othello that Shakespeare wrote into the play. The rest of the cast and production are equally solid. Some critics just can't get over the older, 'classical' performances, but I think in thirty years this will still be the Othello.

Nat Review

It's a treat to see Nathaniel in Shakespeare. He does it so well. And it's a treat to see him paired with such great actors as Branagh and Fishburne. If Far from the Madding Crowd is my favourite Nat Parker role, this is the best overall film he's ever been in. As Cassio he is likable and innocent, naively playing into Iago's hands with his friendly openness with Desdemona, too honourable to suspect anything sordid until it's too late. And, hey, he looks marvellous in the costumes as well! The drunken scene is wonderfully acted, and the erotic scenes Othello images are truly steamy.

Status

Out on DVD

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