Iago convinces Othello, The Moor of Venice that his wife, Desdemona has been unfaithful. Iago is an evil, manipulative character with his own agenda. A plot of jealousy and rage transpires in this classic Shakespearean tale. Written by
Jason Ihle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For me, the Lawrence Fishbourne version of "Othello" is the best ever put on film. His performance is excellent, while not overpowering the villainous Iago. And the title role is played by a black man, as it should be, rather than a white man with boot-polish on his face. The film's marginal eroticism has been criticised, but isn't eroticism at the very heart of the story?
Olivier's "Othello" was essentially a film of the stage production, and for me the Orson Welles version was a failure, despite Welles' star performance, because most of the other actors were almost devoid of charisma. How could Desdemona possibly have been interested in a slob like Welles' Cassio?
I have always found the original play unconvincing, for several reasons. Iago's motive, resentment of Cassio's promotion, seems too trivial for the tragedy it precipitates. At risk of committing heresy, I found the Verdi opera more convincing, with the soliloquy by Iago explaining his innate determination to commit evil.
Also, given the closeness of Othello's friendship with Iago, his decision to bypass him in favour of Cassio makes little sense. Likewise, Othello's readiness to believe the worst of Desdemona, and the ease with which Iago leads him on to murder, makes the title character look quite pathetic, almost simple-minded.
In this film, the cutting of the text to the absolute minimum helps to hide the play's inherent faults and tighten the action, and Fishbourne's wordless suffering speaks volumes that more than make up for the loss of Shakespeare's lines. I couldn't help comparing this film with Kenneth Brannagh's "Hamlet", the longest and most tedious of his self-advertisements, in which every long-winded speech was preserved intact. Here Brannagh's Iago is almost as good as Fishbourne's Othello, and he makes the most of the lines he has.
To sum up, ten out of ten. I can only regret that Fishbourne is not offered more roles of this quality.
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