Otello (1986)

PG  |   |  Drama, Music  |  12 September 1986 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.2/10 from 400 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 5 critic

Based on Shakesphere's play, Verdi's opera depicts the devastating effects of jealousy, "...the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds upon". Believing Otello has promoted the... See full summary »



(libretto), (adaptation), 2 more credits »
0Check in

Watch Now

$0.00 with Prime Video


10 Best Action Heroes

We consulted IMDb's Highest-Rated Action-Family Films to came up with 10 scene-stealing action figures your kids can relate to, look up to, and be inspired by.

Visit our Family Entertainment Guide

Related News

Opera Review: Otello Is Back, Without Blackface
| Vulture
Electric Boogaloo review
| Den of Geek
Daily | Menahem Golan, 1929 – 2014
| Keyframe

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 1267 titles
created 08 Mar 2013
a list of 13 titles
created 19 May 2013
a list of 2301 titles
created 01 Aug 2013
a list of 37 titles
created 10 months ago
a list of 1588 titles
created 10 months ago

Related Items

Search for "Otello" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Otello (1986)

Otello (1986) on IMDb 7.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Otello.
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

La traviata (1982)
Drama | Music | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Violetta meets Alfredo and quickly falls for him. After the lovers run away together, they live in bliss for a short time. However, Alfredo's father, Giorgio, starts to interfere, concerned... See full summary »

Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Stars: Teresa Stratas, Plácido Domingo, Cornell MacNeil
Sparrow (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Catania, Sicilia 1854. A serious epidemic of cholera is hitting the region. Maria a 16 years old novice leaves her convent and returns her home to avoid contamination. Here she finds a ... See full summary »

Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Stars: Angela Bettis, Johnathon Schaech, Eva Alexander
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Stars: Yelena Obraztsova, Plácido Domingo, Renato Bruson
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

THE GO-GO BOYS: The Inside Story of Cannon Films is a documentary about two Israeli-born cousins, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, who in pursuit of the American Dream turned the Hollywood ... See full summary »

Director: Hilla Medalia
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Jon Voight, Charles Bronson
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A fictionalized account of the last days of opera singer Maria Callas (Ardant).

Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Stars: Fanny Ardant, Jeremy Irons, Joan Plowright
The Apple (1980)
Comedy | Fantasy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.2/10 X  

Musical set in the 'future', e.g. 1994. A young couple enters the world of the music industry, but also the world of drugs.

Director: Menahem Golan
Stars: Catherine Mary Stewart, George Gilmour, Grace Kennedy
King Lear (1987)
Comedy | Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Everything returns to normal after Chernobyl. That is, everything but art. Most of the great works are lost, and it is up to people like William Shakespear Junior the Fifth to restore the ... See full summary »

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Stars: Woody Allen, Freddy Buache, Leos Carax
Don Carlo (TV Movie 1992)
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Stars: Samuel Ramey, Luciano Pavarotti, Paolo Coni
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A one-of-a-kind story about two-of-a-kind men who (for better or worse) changed film forever.

Director: Mark Hartley
Stars: Sam Firstenberg, David Paulsen, Luigi Cozzi
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

This is a dramatization of events in the life of St. Francis of Assisi from before his conversion experience through his audience with the pope, including his friendship with St. Clare.

Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Stars: Graham Faulkner, Judi Bowker, Leigh Lawson
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A fanciful biopic of legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini as a very young man.

Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Stars: C. Thomas Howell, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophie Ward
Camping (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Stars: Marisa Allasio, Nino Manfredi, Paolo Ferrari


Cast overview, first billed only:
Katia Ricciarelli ...
Petra Malakova ...
Massimo Foschi ...
Edwin Francis ...
Sergio Nicolai ...
Remo Remotti ...
Antonio Pierfederici ...
Ezio Di Cesare ...
Cassio (voice)
John Macurdy ...
Lodovico (voice)
Constantin Zaharia ...
Roderigo (voice)
Edward Toumajian ...
Montano (voice)
Giannicola Pigliucci ...
Brabantio (voice)


Based on Shakesphere's play, Verdi's opera depicts the devastating effects of jealousy, "...the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds upon". Believing Otello has promoted the fast-rising Cassio over himself, Iago plots to destroy both Cassio and Otello. Iago convinces the jealous Otello that his beautiful wife Desdemona is unfaithful, and that Cassio is her lover. Jealousy is followed by tragedy, then retribution, "Has Heaven no more thunderbolts?" Written by Mike Smith <mismith@brody.med.ecu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Music


PG | See all certifications »



| |


Release Date:

12 September 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Othellos  »

Box Office


$189,042 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Franco Zeffirelli later said that out of all the films he ever made, "Otello" is his favorite, and admitted that after he made the picture, he had "a bit of a crisis" because he felt that he could never be able to duplicate that achievement. See more »


Referenced in DVD-R Hell: The Day the Clown Cried (2014) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

More Zeffirelli Than Verdi...Yet, Still Feast For Eyes And Ears
12 February 2013 | by (Cieszyn, Poland) – See all my reviews

The very beginning of OTELLO with everything so vastly bigger than reality sets the tone for our expectations. Some are disappointed, others are surprised.

It seems, having found out Franco Zeffirelli's entire filmography, that the key movie which truly delivers the director's masterful eye for details as well as the desirable faithfulness in adapting the classical source to the screen is TRAVIATA with Placido Domingo and Teresa Stratas. There, you do not have to be particularly fond of opera to love it. Indeed, echoing Vincent Canby's words of September 1986, in TRAVIATA "opera and film are effortlessly made to seem one." OTELLO, made 5 years later with the great tenor in the lead, appears to be a slightly different case in which aesthetic beauty is combined with classic tragedy but the manner is ultimately individual.

The 2013 Year of Verdi may constitute a wonderful opportunity to broaden one's knowledge of this great composer, the genius of his time. However, many viewers who have seen Franco Zeffirelli's OTELLO will probably agree with the New York Times reviewer, Vincent Canby, that, unlike TRAVIATA, the movie rather "ornaments" the original than "reveals" it. Therefore, from the very opening shot with its grandeur and the majestic display of elaborate visuals rather than Verdi's storm music (which appears to be in the shadow of spectacle), OTELLO is foremost an expression of the director's style.

Yes, it is more Zeffirelli than Verdi in its divided pieces, some chaotic continuity, dreamlike photography by the director's mainstay, Ennio Guarnieri, aestheticism and the vital, engrossing and a little terrifying conclusion. At certain moments, visuals and symbols appear to be supplied with an almost spiritual piety. Such care is being handled, such effort being put to everything. Although it may consist of certain liberties with the original source, nothing seems to stand in the way towards leaving the viewer dazzled at the creative use of images, dazzling costumes, breathtaking colors, camera angles and the cast who make it all beautifully acted and sung. They allow you to search into their souls. Yes, they will completely captivate you.

Of course, the nature of this movie, opera, makes the performances considerably overacted. Viewers who are not used to such pompous execution of the sung lines may feel at odds with the over-dramatized moments. Yet, Zeffirelli, as in many (of not all) of his other movies supplies us with beautiful characters whose looks alone somehow make them easily identified with and likable. The pairing of Placido Domingo as Otello and Katia Ricciarelli as Desdemona rewards us all. By splendid combination of emotional resonance and the dramatic tensions, they deliver exceptionally memorable moments, in particular their wedding night which is a true visual poetry on screen. Domingo beautifully highlights the typical way of a tragic hero - from victory to tragedy, from pride to humiliation, from being hailed to being doomed. Ricciarelli is a delicate dove, an innocent victim, a truly beautiful creature born under evil star. She is incredible in the scene of the prayer at the shroud of Madonna. Piety, subtlety and dignity reach exquisite harmony and surprising balance. Yet, however they differ, as it is in the classical tragedy, they both fall victims of evil scheme, of the hero's evil genius.

One line says: "Beware of jealousy!" This, unfortunately, did not apply to "Beware of an evil man!" Justino Diaz portrays Jago, a malicious man who believes in a god of vengeance...that is his creed. His demonic laughter allures all major human emotions. It is him who plants the seeds of doubt about Desdemona and her alleged lover, Cassio (Urbano Barberini) and his poison really works in the hero's mind. In one of the most powerful scenes of the movie, Jago stands at the cross in a typical Zeffirelli imagery (compare to the film about saint Francis) and, on the verge of blasphemy, he sings out in pride and vanity "Heaven is an idle tale" That scene has its continuation at Otello's oath. Zeffirelli delivers a splendid performance from Justino Diaz, the most memorable character/villain of the movie.

From the supporting cast, a mention must be made of Urbano Barberini. Here, the classical idea of beauty, sort of Michelangelo's David is evoked, in particular, at the additional scene (which Canby relates to as 'gross interruption') when Cassio is showed succumbed to the wild pleasures of erotic dreams about Desdemona. Barberini evokes a certain aspect of an innocent young man so many times depicted by Zeffirelli with its pinnacle in ROMEO AND JULIET.

With the marvelous display of visuals, aesthetic splendor and the director's standard hallmarks, Zeffirelli has never and will never win the hearts of those who are bound to criticize him. Yet, OTELLO may be forgiven its liberal treatments of the classical source and may be considered a significant film by those seeking high art on screen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss Otello (1986) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page