Orson Welles Othello

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Orson Welles Othello

By | December 2012
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Summary: Othello, one of the four great Shakespearean tragedies, was brought to the screen by Orson Welles in 1952. It is a 93-minute black and white filmic production that could be titled "Orson Welles's Othello." Welles was the producer, the director, the screenwriter and even the main actor. He played the title role of Othello, the Moor, by painting his face black with cosmetics. One of the major issues in Othello is about the position that a foreigner and a black man hold in a white society, and the film's black and white photography interestingly fits this theme. However, it is unsettling to see a white actor playing the role of a black man.

The original text has been considerably abridged. No comical parts are left in, and Desdemona's scenes, especially her lines, have been reduced. Several intimate chamber scenes, moreover, have been added. Also, scenes are rearranged into a different order, but it is still Shakespeare's language and the essentials of the story remain the same as Shakespeare's powerful story of jealousy and rivalry.

The film begins and ends with the funerals of Desdemona and Othello. With the theme song that is heavy and sad the audience is immediately exposed to an upside-down image of Othello's face. It is the corpse of Othello, lying on a stretcher and carried to the plaza. Nearby is another stretcher, which holds the dead Desdemona. The funeral procession is led by priests holding a giant cross and surrounded by soldiers. Meanwhile, the villain, Iago, with a chain on his neck, is being led and put into a cage. As the procession moves near, the cage is pulled up and Iago is seen hanging in the sky. With a blank face, from the bottom of the cage, Iago stares at those men carrying the dead Othello.

The story continues with the use of flashbacks. Despite her father's opposition, Desdemona and Othello fall in love and get married. This marriage is not blessed even from the beginning. When this happy couple comes out from the...