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Filming 'Othello' (1978)

Essay film shot for TV including Orson Welles reflections on Othello close to the Moviola, a chat with Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir and fragments of a conversation with the audience in Boston after a screening of the film.

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Cast

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Host / Othello
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Desdemona (archive footage)
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Roderigo (archive footage)
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Brabantio (archive footage)
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Iago (archive footage)
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Storyline

"Il vero cineasta è colui che sa dominare le catastrofi !". Partendo da questa affermazione, Orson Welles spiega le ragioni, i tempi ed i modi della realizzazione di uno dei suoi capolavori, l'OTHELLO, appunto. Ora parlando con due degli interpreti, ora spiegando l'importanza del montaggio cinematografico ad un gruppo di studenti di Boston, ora parlando da solo davanti ad una moviola. Più che un semplice documentario (prodotto dalla televisione tedesca), è un film sul mettere a nudo il proprio "mestiere di regista" da parte dell'inventore del cinema moderno. Written by rosebud6

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July 1979 (USA)  »

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Filming Othello  »

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Trivia

Like the making of _Othello (1952)_ itself, this documentary consisted of Orson Welles interviewing and photographing 'Michael MacLiamoor' and Hilton Edwards and then filming his portions of the same interview two years later. See more »

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A Last Look into an Artist's Mind
17 February 2014 | by See all my reviews

The final film of Orson Welles is perhaps his quietest, most reflective piece of work. "Filming Othello" is not, as the title might suggest, a "making of" documentary about putting the Shakespeare play onto film. Instead it falls into the somewhat vaguely-defined "essay film" category occupied by the likes of Welles' own "F for Fake", and perhaps the documentary work of Werner Herzog. This movie mostly consists of its director talking into his camera toward the audience, and occasionally playing clips of his "Othello", past conversations with other actors, interviews, etc. Formally, this film is not the most interesting in the world (which ironically, is where Welles has largely succeeded in the past in filmmaking), but here it's the content that is truly fascinating.

Nearly thirty years after putting his own version of "Othello" onto film, here we watch Welles look back onto it, recounting both tales of the production, his own interpretations of Shakespeare's original text and discussion with others on it, reaction to the film, and finally his own wish to have made it even better than it was. If this is not concerned with how to film Shakespeare, then what "Filming Othello" is concerned with is Welles himself, and his look back at an accomplishment in his life, and with the distance from it gained by history.

This film is Welles probing his own mind, where if in "F for Fake" he shares with us his philosophy on art in general, "Filming Othello" is his philosophy on creating and thinking about his own work. And yet there's a melancholic feeling all throughout the movie as Welles calmly but quietly reviews his past work. One gets the impression that here the legendary director of "Citizen Kane" who was willing to pick a fight with powerful newspaper tycoons at the mere age of 24 has finally been humbled by history, and that he has finally acknowledged his best days are behind him.

"Good night." Those are the words that Welles speaks to us at the film's very end, and they serve as a last, sad goodbye from a great artist, lamenting that he could not have done more.


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