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Othello (1952)
"The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice" (original title)

7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 4,694 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 31 critic

The general Othello is manipulated into thinking his new wife has been carrying on an affair with one of his officers, when in reality it's all part of the scheme of a bitter lieutenant.

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Title: Othello (1952)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Micheál MacLiammóir ...
Robert Coote ...
...
Suzanne Cloutier ...
Hilton Edwards ...
Nicholas Bruce ...
Michael Laurence ...
Fay Compton ...
...
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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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Powerful drama of uncontrolled human emotion! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

| | |

Language:

Release Date:

12 September 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Othello  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(re-release)| (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Suzanne Cloutier, who plays Desdemona, was actually the third actress to play the part during the lengthy shoot. One of the others was Cécile Aubry, who left the shoot when she was offered The Black Rose (1950), only to bump into Orson Welles on that set once more. 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

Referenced in American Beauty (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Welles' images match the beauty of Shakespeare's language
3 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Considerable controversy has surrounded the 1992 restoration and re-release of Orson Welles' "Othello." First, the film was wrongly labelled a "lost classic" - not technically true, as Welles aficionados will realize. More seriously, the restoration crew (under the aegis of Welles' daughter, Beatrice Welles) re-synced the dialogue and re-recorded the musical score - an abomination to Welles purists. While it would have been preferable to adhere to Welles' vision for the film, such an endeavor becomes extremely difficult when no written record of Welles' intent exists (as it did with his famous 26-page memo to Universal regarding "Touch of Evil"). So it's true that the restored version lacks a degree of authenticity, but what are the alternatives? Grainy, scratched, poorly synced public domain prints (c.f. "Mr Arkadin" and "The Trial")? Or, worse, no available copy at all (c.f. "Chimes at Midnight")?

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 exploits them for all their stark beauty before retreating into noirish interiors, underscoring Othello's descent into darkness.

Aside from Michael Macliammoir's chilling Method performance as Iago, the acting in Welles' "Othello" has been criticized as too restrained and modulated for Shakespearean tragedy. Such criticism is largely unwarranted, for this "Othello" is as much for the eyes as the ears: Welles' bold framing and expressionistic camera angles free the play from its theatrical moorings (pun intended), undermining the need for stage elocution. Indeed, the camera is the true star of this film, as Welles generates images that match the grandeur and eloquence of Shakespeare's language.


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