7.7/10
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Othello (1951)

The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (original title)
The Moorish general Othello is manipulated into thinking that his new wife Desdemona has been carrying on an affair with his lieutenant Michael Cassio when in reality it is all part of the scheme of a bitter ensign named Iago.

Director:

Orson Welles

Writer:

William Shakespeare (play)
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Micheál MacLiammóir ... Iago
Robert Coote ... Roderigo
Orson Welles ... Othello
Suzanne Cloutier ... Desdemona
Hilton Edwards ... Brabantio
Nicholas Bruce Nicholas Bruce ... Lodovico
Michael Laurence Michael Laurence ... Cassio
Fay Compton ... Emilia
Doris Dowling ... Bianca
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Storyline

Desdemona, daughter of a Venetian aristocrat, elopes with Moorish military hero Othello, to the great resentment of Othello's envious underling Iago. Alas, Iago knows Othello's weakness, and with chilling malice works on him with but too good effect... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Powerful drama of uncontrolled human emotion! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Morocco | Italy

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 September 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Othello See more »

Filming Locations:

Mogador, Morocco See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Scalera Film See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Dolby (re-release)| Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The only feature film of famed Dublin actor Micheál MacLiammóir. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: There was once in Venice a moor, Othello, who for his merits is the affairs of war was held in great esteem. It happened that he fell in love with a young and noble lady called Desdemona, who drawn by his virtue became equally enamoured of Othello...
See more »

Alternate Versions

There are actually 3 significant versions of this film. The version that is available on DVD and at Film Festivals is the "restored" version mentioned above. The Criterion laserdisc consists of Orson Welles' American version of the film in which he completely overdubbed Desdemona's voice with a new actress and overdubbed many characters including Roderigo with his own voice. In addition this version contains written credits instead of spoken and has many alternate shots. The original Cannes version was shown once on British Televison in the early 80's and is very difficult to find. See more »

Connections

Version of Bianco contro negro (1913) See more »

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User Reviews

Welles' indomitable spirit in the face of penury shines in yet another Wellesian Masterpiece
10 January 2004 | by Abhijoy-Gandhi-WG05See all my reviews

THE TRAGEDY OF OTHELLO: THE MOOR OF VENICE/ US/France/Italy/Morocco 1952 (3.5 STARS)

The recent restoration of Othello brings to cinematic space the magic of another masterpiece from Orson Welles. To think that a whole master negative of this film (which won the Best film at Cannes in 1952) was lying abandoned in a New Jersey warehouse, was discovered by accident and is the reason for this print that we now have access to, is enough to send shivers down the spine of any Welles-phile. . Mise-en-scene: Like with many of his other works involving especially Shakespeare, be prepared for Welles' licenses and personal interpretation of subject matter pertaining to Othello. Yet at the end, we are left with a feeling of deep tragedy and loss for Othello, played by Welles himself, and though we feel that Othello was quite an idiot, we at least feel that he was a very unfortunate idiot at that! . The problem may have been that the critical scene where Iago poisons Othello's mind and fuels his suspicion is scrappy and left unexplored. This may well have had little to do with Welles' artistic choices, and more with his monetary situation at the time. Welles' penury through his European sojourn is widely known and the passion with which he would invest into his films, every penny earned through moonlighting his booming voice and above-average acting skills is legendary, and should put this in context.

. The figure behavior of Micheál MacLiammóir is utterly convincing as the detestable Iago who is consumed by jealousy and rage at being overlooked as the second-in-command. But the person to steal our hearts is Suzanne Cloutier who portrays the fair-dame Desdemona. She is every bit as dainty as we would have imagined her to be. . The stripped down set design works wonderfully for the film and even though budgets may have been the driving force, Othello's barren palace is preceded only by the barrenness of his blinding jealousy and irrational actions. . Cinematography: As we have come to expect, Orson Welles has a unique cinematic language, through which he creates a Wellesian world of skin-burning close ups, dutched crazy world-frames and low angle shots to create a tense atmosphere of foreboding. But there is no better example of exploring and using frame depth than in Othello. Time and again Welles plays with foreground element to reveal psychologically subjective and meta-diagetic moods while cleverly using the depth in the frame to forward the narrative and plot the next progression. The title shots of the film are harrowing in their effect, with the interplay of high-contrast earth and sky contours that at once establish the mood for an intense cinematic experience. . Sound & Editing: The restored version has a brand-new soundtrack mentored by Welles' daughter, and while it enhances the experience to telling effect, it is irony to note that just the new soundtrack cost much more than what Welles assembled the whole film for. The fact that parts of the film were shot MOS and other parts used ADR is distracting due to the obvious lack of lip-sync, but in the final analysis, we watch Welles with reverence almost as if on a visit to Sunday Mass, paying homage, never once forgetting that were are witness to a filmmaker stripped of resources, devoid of many essential tools, but one with indomitable spirit who refused to be cowed-down. Othello is magical in its story telling and another worthy showcase of the genius of Orson Welles.


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