How Scenes from Othello Are Reshaped to Create Meaning in Tim Nelson's Film 'O.'

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Good afternoon everybody. Today I’d like to take the time to discuss how scenes from Shakespeare’s play Othello are reshaped to create meaning in Tim Nelson’s film ‘O’. Othello is a Shakespearean tragedy written and set in the Victorian era which tells the story of a powerful general of the Venetian party whose life and marriage is a ruined by a malevolent and envious soldier named Iago. Tim Nelson’s film ‘O’ is a transformation of Shakespeare’s Othello which has been taken and placed into a modern context. The film takes place in a high school setting where the central characters are part of a basketball team. Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ and Nelson’s ‘O’ both capture the themes of jealousy, deceit and racism through the main characters Iago who is named ‘Hugo’ in ‘O’ and Othello who in ‘O’ is named Odin. The plot is driven by the antagonist Iago/Hugo who inspires the action behind the events. However, the motivation behind their deceit differs in each text. In Othello, the opening scene shows Iago talking lengthily with Roderigo about his dislike for Othello. He reveals his intentions to falsely appear loyal to him in order to gain his trust and manipulate him without being suspected. It should be noted that he also fails to use Othello by his name, referring to him as ‘he’, ‘the Moor’, ‘his Moorship’ and as a ‘Barbary horse, which show his disrespect for Othello and the grand magnitude of his malevolence. Hugo says the words, “All my life I always wanted to fly. I always wanted to be like a hawk. I know you’re not supposed to be jealous of anything, but…to take flight…to soar above everything and everyone…now that’s living.” This quote makes a lasting impression on the audience of his character who rather than being filled with hate like Shakespeare’s Iago, yearns to step out of the shadows and shine above others. The teenage audience for whom the film was targeted towards will likely be able to empathise with and relate to Hugo as his desire is one held commonly...
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