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Literature Ia

By evwallfower May 05, 2013 1929 Words
Starring Laurence Fishburne, Olive Parker’s 1995 rendition of the romantic, tragedy Othello, is an accurate yet dramatic portrayal of William Shakespeare’s acclaimed masterpiece, “Othello.” Olive Parker artistically employs the use of cinematography, lighting manipulation, and sound effects at necessary scenes, which lends a breath of life to a classic play. According to the critic Rita Kempley in the Washington Post, “this adaption of Othello allows us to judge for ourselves whether the Moor loved not wisely but too well.” Despite some variations, the film remains genuine to the play significant themes and conflicts and intricately shows the destructive nature of human conditions. Set in the city of Venice, the plot revolves around, the elopement of the Moor, Othello and his Venetian beauty Desdemona, whose relationship is ruined by Iago, who is not only envious of their love, but is angered that the position of lieutenancy that was given to the Florentine, Michael Cassio and not to himself. Infuriated by Othello’s actions, Iago embarks on a journey to seek vengeance for not appointing him the position of lieutenant and in the process manipulates various innocent characters to see the great, Othello fall. The film has proven to be an effective depiction of the play, staying true to Shakespeare’s vision, however, with some distinctions, to characters, scenes, and imagery, which heighten the interest of the viewer. Despite the changes in Parker’s interpretation, he surely captures the passion of Othello and later the monster which resides within him, the beauty and loyalty of his love Desdemona starred by Irene Jacob in stark contrast with, the human manifestation of Satan himself, the diabolical, Iago, portrayed by Kenneth Branagh and the adherent Michael Cassio captured by Nathaniel Parker. Furthermore, the set and costumes were equally accomplished which ensured all elements of the film flowed. The characters in the film “Othello,” lives up to Shakespeare’s characterization and diction on several bases. Shakespeare originally deems the character of Othello, to be valiant, passionate, and gullible and these qualities are especially reflected by Laurence Fishburne. The actor, brings the much needed, emotion required to fulfill the obligations of his character, as he bears his love to Desdemona, and expresses his admiration for her, as Shakespeare himself originally scripted. As Laurence Fishburne, portrays the softer side of his character to a great deal of accuracy, he also succumbs to his flaws, which led to his demise. Iago, who was aware that Othello felt like an outcast, within the Venetian city, fueled his insecurities about his relationship, knowledgeable that his age, social status and colour in comparison to Desdemona, made him feel inferior in every angle possible. This led Othello, to the path of self-destruction, as he transitioned from a courageous man, to a bitter, envious murder. In the end, Othello makes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as he was no longer in control of himself, but rather, by animosity, jealousy, betrayal, and in the end, he becomes the monster, he was deemed to be. Furthermore, in scenes whereby, there was monologue by Othello, Laurene Fishburne, voiced his thoughts with such urgency as if he were bearing his soul to the viewer which further adds to the interest to the film. Moreover, Oliver Parker’s Desdemona, portrayed by Irene Jacob, personifies what beauty should be not only in her phenotypical characteristics however, but also in her devotion to the people, she loves especially her husband, Othello as how Shakespeare intended the character should be. Shakespeare paints the image that Desdemona is so intoxicated with love for Othello and Irene Jacob captures this, as throughout the film, it was evident that she had admiration and passion in her eyes when she looked at him, and a venerability, shown through her body language when she was near to him. At first, Irene Jacob appears to be timid, however, with the development of the plot, her character makes some bolder gestures. More so, Desdemona’s loyalty to Othello and Cassio is relentless. Desdemona, who was aware of Othello’s intentions to murder her, is as resilient as Shakespeare created her to be, for even in her dying moments, she pledges her love the Moor and pleads her innocence. More so, Irene Jacob, is as determined and persistent as Shakespeare scripted her for, she maintains her loyalty to Cassio, in an attempt to have him reinstated as lieutenant. Kenneth Baranagh who takes on the role, Iago, the most ruthless villain Shakespeare has ever created, surely does justice to the his character, for his speech, body language and actions all exuded malevolence. As Janet Maslin agrees, “Within Iago resides the heart of the tragedy, which loses its complexity when the character radiates nothing but evil.” As Shakespeare had it, from the onset of the play, Iago embarks on a journey to destroy Othello. This element is certainly present in the film, for Iago, portrays the themes of envy, anger and revenge for his personal gain, as in each scene, he is constantly manipulating each character for his benefit. In addition, Kenneth Barangh velvet, convincing voice aids with the portrayal of his character Iago, for Othello, Desdemona and Roderigo, all fell prey to his lies, which they all too easily believed. Barangth’s ability to be convincing and charming without being suspected, works in the favor of the film as it is these qualities, which brings the character Iago to life and the film, a bit more intriguing. Roderigo, portrayed by Michael Maloney seems to add a bit more emotion to his character, as the sentiment that was essential for the accurate portrayal was present at all times, to match his obsession with Desdemona as Shakespeare originally created. Michael Maloney depicts Roderigo’s love struck infatuation and his dark fascination with Desdemona, with ease. This added emotion that was given by Maloney, made the scenario between himself and Desdemona more realistic. Whereas Shakespeare’s Roderigo, seemed to be more in control of his feelings, Michael Maloney’s interpretation of Roderigo was a bit more deranged and as such, made Iago’s manipulative schemes against Roderigo was certainly more believable. In addition, Anna Patrick was as devoted to her role as Emilia, as Emilia was to Desdemona. Emilia’s devotion to Desdemona was present even when Othello had murdered Desdemona, making it clear that it was her ruthless husband who was behind the scheme, which led to the death of her mistress. More so, Emilia’s devotion also extended towards her husband, Iago, as Anna Patrick depicted, a yearning desire for Iago’s approval. In contrast to the Emilia presented by Shakespeare, Olive Parker’s Anna Patrick lends an interesting asset to the film, sticking to the essentials of the plot however, but adding more depth and emotion to the character. Moreover, the chorological order of the film remains true, to the order of Shakespeare’s Othello, with little variations made to the plot. For the film begins with the elopement of Othello and Desdemona and then a dramatic kiss to seal their marriage. Whereas, in opening scene of the play, there is an altercation between Iago and Roderigo, who is clearly upset that Iago, of all the persons he trusted, did not inform him about the elopement. Furthermore, added for the purpose of exhilaration in the film, there is a near, sword battle between Othello and Brabanito, who accuses the Moor of stealing his daughter. In addition, the film remained authentic to the original script, containing, most of Shakespeare’s work, with mere changes to improve the drama. The set, costumes props and sound for the purpose of this film was highly realistic and elaborate which lent to effectiveness of the film. In the play, the actions of the plot primarily take place in the city of Venice and Cyprus. Fortunately, for the 1995 adaptation, the film was shot at, the desired cities. Scenes through the film, shows the exquisite landscape of the city of Venice from undulating hills, to the ancient stone buildings to the seascape. Thus, one can say, that the set perfectly lives up to its requirements, for it was filmed at the location that Shakespeare desired it to be located. More so, the Venice landscape and sites, captives the viewer’s attention and gives validity to the actions taking place around them. Caroline Harris, the costume designer for the film, fulfills the requirement for the Elizabethan dress, which comprised of bright colours, elaborate trimmerings, excessive padding, and revealing silhouettes worn by the various actors. However the costumes Laurence Fishburne wear, seems to lose its power of authority ,Othello’s attire as his personality is over come by envy and hate. For, Othello’s attire in the opening scene reflects that he valiant, confident, well respected and is someone in authority, however, through the duration of the film, as Iago plants seeds of doubt in the mind of Othello, he loses himself, and as such, his attire, has less emphasis. Additionally, Desdemona’s clothing reflects the innocence of her character. While staying true to the Elizabethan styles of dress, Irene Jacob’s costumes, adds to the overall beauty of the character is she is attempting to exemplify. More so, the striking character of Iago, is properly dressed to meet the obligations of his malicious role. Iago, who exudes evil, attire, shows that he is confident in himself and his actions, and his clothing simply reinforces, characteristics of his personality. In another instance, the costumes in Olive Parker’s rendition of Othello acts as a mechanism, to show exactly who the person is. In the play, words such “whore” and “strumpet” were used to describe Bianca, and this is surely reflected in her styles of dress, as her dresses are much more revealing as compared to the other female characters attires. The props, used in the film was highly essential in its success, for, it was Desdemona’s handkerchief, which ended up in the hands of Cassio, that provided Othello, with the ocular proof that was needed, to confirm Desdemona’s infidelity. Iago who had orchestrated the entire scenario, was aware that the handkerchief, was a love token to Desdemona, from Othello, and losing it would mean that she had thrown away their love. Thus, he persuaded, his wife, Emilia, to take the handkerchief, who in the film, jumped at the first opportunity to take it, whereas the Emilia, in Shakespeare’s play, was certainly more hesitant, for she was immensely loyal to her mistress. The sound used in the Parker’s adaptation of “Othello,” aids in adding emotion in scenarios where it was necessary. In various instances in the film, the sound was used to set the tone of the scene. This ranged from an intimate moment that Othello and Desdemona shared the night they consummated their marriage, to the dramatic background music that played, as Othello, was about to commit suicide, after learning that he had murdered his innocent wife and realizing that and it was his “honest” ensign Iago, who was responsible for this travesty. In concluding, I can surely say that the 1995 version of “Othello” directed by Laurence Fishburne truly captures the essence of Shakespeare’s, vision for it stays true to the play in several ways while at the same time, with some distinct changes which only added to the enhancement of the plot. The essentials of the romantic tragedy remains enacted, capturing the central themes of love, jealousy, racial discrimination, and revenge. In the closing words of the critic Robert Hurwitt, “There are moments of painterly richness in Oliver Parker’s “Othello” that transports you to Venice of Veronese, Titian, and Correggio, a world deep with hues and half lit faces emerging from the shadows. It’s almost too good to last.”

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