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Filming 'Othello' (1978)

Essay film shot for TV including Orson Welles reflections on Othello close to the Moviola, a chat with Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir and fragments of a conversation with the audience in Boston after a screening of the film.

Director:

Orson Welles

Writer:

Orson Welles
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Orson Welles ... Host / Othello
Micheál MacLiammóir ... Self / Iago
Hilton Edwards ... Self / Brabantio
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Storyline

Filming Othello begins with Welles standing behind a moviola. He directly addresses the camera and announces: "This is to be a conversation, certainly not anything so formal as a lecture, and what we're going to talk about is Othello, Shakespeare's play and the film I made of it." Welles initially conducts a monologue where he recalls the events that lead up to the creation of Othello and some of the problems that plagued the production. As the film progresses, he switches to a conversation in a restaurant between himself and two of the film's co-stars, Micheal MacLiammoir (who played Iago) and Hilton Edwards (who played Brabantio). The three men talk at length about the making of Othello. Welles then resumes his monologue from his position behind the moviola. He then runs footage on the moviola of a question and answer session he conducted during a 1977 screening of Othello in Boston. Welles concludes the film in his position as a monologuist, proclaiming: "There are too many regrets... Written by X

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Genres:

Documentary

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Orson Welles reportedly shot a few scenes of him traveling in Venice explaining his "Othello (1951)." This footage has been lost. See more »

User Reviews

 
A Last Look into an Artist's Mind
17 February 2014 | by RaxivaceSee all my reviews

The final film of Orson Welles is perhaps his quietest, most reflective piece of work. "Filming Othello" is not, as the title might suggest, a "making of" documentary about putting the Shakespeare play onto film. Instead it falls into the somewhat vaguely-defined "essay film" category occupied by the likes of Welles' own "F for Fake", and perhaps the documentary work of Werner Herzog. This movie mostly consists of its director talking into his camera toward the audience, and occasionally playing clips of his "Othello", past conversations with other actors, interviews, etc. Formally, this film is not the most interesting in the world (which ironically, is where Welles has largely succeeded in the past in filmmaking), but here it's the content that is truly fascinating.

Nearly thirty years after putting his own version of "Othello" onto film, here we watch Welles look back onto it, recounting both tales of the production, his own interpretations of Shakespeare's original text and discussion with others on it, reaction to the film, and finally his own wish to have made it even better than it was. If this is not concerned with how to film Shakespeare, then what "Filming Othello" is concerned with is Welles himself, and his look back at an accomplishment in his life, and with the distance from it gained by history.

This film is Welles probing his own mind, where if in "F for Fake" he shares with us his philosophy on art in general, "Filming Othello" is his philosophy on creating and thinking about his own work. And yet there's a melancholic feeling all throughout the movie as Welles calmly but quietly reviews his past work. One gets the impression that here the legendary director of "Citizen Kane" who was willing to pick a fight with powerful newspaper tycoons at the mere age of 24 has finally been humbled by history, and that he has finally acknowledged his best days are behind him.

"Good night." Those are the words that Welles speaks to us at the film's very end, and they serve as a last, sad goodbye from a great artist, lamenting that he could not have done more.


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Details

Country:

West Germany

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 March 1980 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Filming Othello See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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