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Iago (Bob Hoskins) and a comrade-in-arms are outside the Venice home of Desdemona's father, Brabantio (Geoffrey Chater), who does not yet know that she has eloped with Othello (Sir Anthony Hopkins). Iago confides to his friend, who had hoped to marry Desdemona (Penelope Wilton), that he serves Othello to further his own ends. Venice needs Othello to protect its commercial interests in Cyprus where the Turkish fleet is headed. Desdemona insists on going to Cyprus, too. In Cyprus, Iago plots to convince Othello that Desdemona has betrayed him with Cassio (David Yelland). A lot more than political ambition seems to be motivating Iago.Written by
Dale O'Connor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cedric Messina had initially planned to screen Othello during season two, and had attempted to cast James Earl Jones in the part. However, the British Actors' Equity Association had written into their contract with the BBC that only British actors could appear in the series, and if Messina cast Jones, Equity threatened to strike, thus crippling the show. Messina backed down and Othello was pushed back to a later season. By the time it was produced, Jonathan Miller had taken over as producer, and he decided that the play was not about race at all, casting a white actor in the role. See more »
After Desdemona has been killed by Othello and Emilia has been stabbed by Iago, Emilia climbs upon the bed. There we can clearly see Desdemona's belly heave from breathing. See more »
A BBC-TV production that should be given greater publicity
A most excellent production of one of the Bard's more difficult plays mainly because of the controversy in these politically correct times of a white actor blacking up to play the lead. But since Othello is a Moor and thus a Mediterranean type he does not have to be portrayed as an African. Remember the Moors ruled Spain for a long time until expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella so Othello does not have to be any darker, than a Spaniard. Anthony Hopkins gives a masterful performance as the Moor, one of the best I have seen comparable only with Placido Domingo in the opera Otello. His gradual change of character from gentle loving husband to insane jealousy is extremely well done and his way with the verse gives full meaning to Shakespeare's words. He is well supported by the cast of less well known stage actors. For me the only jarring note was Bob Hoskins portrayal of Iago, so obviously a nasty piece of work that one wonders how Othello would be taken in by such an overt villain. His giggling also becomes irritating, definitely not the best Iago I have seen. One thing is sure, this production emphasises what a great Shakespearean actor the stage lost when Hopkins left for Hollywood. Had he remained in the theatre he would easily have outstripped Richard Burton's reputation and maybe even Olivier's. Anyone who values real Shakespearean acting should not miss this production.
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