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Othello (1981)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  12 October 1981 (USA)
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A general becomes convinced that his wife is having an affair, even though there is no evidence.



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Title: Othello (TV Movie 1981)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Anthony Pedley ...
Geoffrey Chater ...
Alexander Davion ...
David Yelland ...
Joseph O'Conor ...
Peter Walmsley ...
John Barron ...
Seymour Green ...
First Senator
Howard Goorney ...
Second Senator
Rosemary Leach ...
Tony Steedman ...
Max Harvey ...
First Gentleman


Iago and a comrade-in-arms are outside the Venice home of Desdemona's father, who does not yet know that she has eloped with Othello. Iago confides to his friend -- who had hoped to marry Desdemona -- that he serves Othello to further his own ends. Venice needs Othello to protect its commercial interests in Cyprus where the Turkish fleet is headed. Desdemona insists on going to Cyprus, too. In Cyprus, Iago plots to convince Othello that Desdemona has betrayed him with Cassio. A lot more than political ambition seems to be motivating Iago. Written by Dale O'Connor <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance





Release Date:

12 October 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: Othello  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Jonathan Miller based the visual design on the work of El Greco. See more »


Shortly before stabbing himself Othello bounces the blade of the dagger on the bed and we both hear and see the blade retract. See more »


Version of Othello (1952) See more »

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User Reviews

an impressive production
26 December 2012 | by (Cambridge, England) – See all my reviews

This is an impressive and unrelievedly grim production that omits most of the light-hearted bits of Shakespeare's play -- light-hearted bits that are few and brief in any event.

Because the acting by Penelope Wilton is so excellent, we forget that she is not quite young enough and not quite attractive enough to be fully suitable for the role of Desdemona. Wilton vividly conveys the bewilderment and desolation that Desdemona experiences as her beloved husband turns against her.

Bob Hoskins is superb as Iago. He could have reined in his giggling at times, especially in the first Act, but his delivery of his lines is impeccably well-judged. Precisely because Iago as played by Hoskins is highly likable on a superficial level, his merciless and devious psychopathy is truly chilling. Hoskins displays his skill as an actor when he adopts an upper-crust accent in his summoning of Brabantio and in his gloating over the supine Othello. He thereby signals one of the motivations behind Iago's crimes (without obscuring the fact that the crimes are driven partly by a love of evil for its own sake).

Anthony Hopkins is not quite as successful in the role of Othello, but his performance is generally very good. He overacts rather irksomely at a few junctures, and he looks like a slightly pudgy actor rather than a rugged soldier. Nonetheless, he delivers most of his lines well. His slapping of Desdemona is jolting, and his final speech is both poignant and devastating.

Most of the supporting actors are fine. David Yelland is good in the difficult role of Cassio, and Anthony Pedley gives a splendid performance as the foppish Roderigo. Best of all is Rosemary Leach with a riveting performance as Emilia. (Because her performance is so good, however, it highlights one of the problematic features of Shakespeare's play: namely, the implausibility of the fact that Emilia waits until the end to disclose why Desdemona's handkerchief has gone missing.)

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