The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice (Video 1981) Poster

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Blacula does Shakespeare
Vince-516 May 2001
First off, let me say that I'm not an especially big fan of Shakespeare, at least not in the fashion that his works have typically been presented to me. I'm not one for gray Elizabethan pieces where characters spout ultra-flowery dialogue in the most voraciously melodramatic way possible. However, this videotaped play is compelling thanks to the commanding William Marshall as Othello. His rich, booming voice and towering presence make him perfect for the role. He displays every ounce of the classy magnetism that made him so unforgettable as Blacula--though, after seeing him in that film, his presence here may seem a little odd at first. The always-beautiful Jenny Agutter is a fine Desdemona, as well. While some of the supporting players seem to aimlessly flail and bellow away and chew the plywood scenery, these two leads excel and make the trip worthwhile.
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Blockbuster sent me the wrong version
The one I requested was the BBC production starring Anthony Hopkins in the title role and Bob Hoskins as Iago. Instead this was delivered. At least this Othello is played by a man of color and I appreciate his work. The sound was terrible, at least on the disk I was sent, so the overall effect was considerably diminished. I would prefer to not make uncomplimentary remarks regarding the rest of the cast, but Ron Moody did better work in the film Oliver. To anyone who wants to see a superior production I would suggest the Hopkins/Hoskins version. Anthony Hopkins is certainly not the first white man to play the jealous Moor, but he is the best one I have seen by far.
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not a great Iago
alexr64722 November 1998
The guy who played Othello was good. Jessica from Logan's Run, always hot. But Iago was just as powerful a character as he should or could be. Not the best production ever, but stayed closer to the play then Orsen Wells or Kenneth Brannagh
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A tough row to hoe.
Robert J. Maxwell16 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
To tell the truth, Shakespeare isn't really easy to follow, what with his tangled syntax, his poetry, his puns, his arcane lexicon. But Anthony Hopkins, I think, did a splendid job. I managed to buy this one by mistake, through clumsiness, and it just isn't the same. The actors don't seem to speak slowly enough, I guess, and Iago seemed miscast, no Derek Jacobi. But, heck, the sound on this DVD was so lousy that no one could overcome that obstacle.

And this is an inexpensive production, looking very much like a stage. I'm not convinced that Shakespeare is so hot that even a misplaced production like this is worth much attention. It's not like the Lord's Prayer or anything, suitable for all occasions.

As much as I hate to say it, I'm afraid that Olivier and his elaborate extravaganzas have got practically a lock on the material. It's not just the production values either -- the blaring trumpets, the real live horses, the period costumes. It's Olivier's performances. He speaks slowly enough in, say, "Hamlet" to understand his every word, though we may not know its exact referent in the real world. And when he speaks quickly, as in much of "Richard III", he still manages to articulate each juncture. His pauses are precisely timed. And, by God, anybody who can turn the half-mythical but ever-filthy Richard into a clown has got my vote.

Hopkins' version of Othello was splendid. As someone said, "he has the kindest EYES." Now THAT was the tragedy of the Moor. This version is just a tragedy.
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