Monday, March 07, 2005

Othello: Starring, directed, produced by Orson Welles

Anton and I watched Orson Welles Othello last night. It further cemented Welles' place as one of the greatest directors of all time.

The film is shot in fairly high-contrast black & white, lending more weight to one of the underlying themes of the play ("blackness") and giving it a striking visual style not seen in many Shakespeare films. Welles was so ahead of his time in many ways. The film was shot over a long period of time (do to financial and casting problems) and so Welles uses lots of quick cuts and interesting angles to bring together the story of the "moor of Venice." From the incredible costumes, to the wonderfu lighting, this is vintage Welles.

Of course, the subject of w
ether a white man should be allowed to play Othello inevitably comes up. Personally, of all the "white" Othello's I've seen, Welles is easily the best. Mostly because the film is in black and white, making the make-up less intrusive, but also because Welles just had the charisma and gravitas to play Othello convincingly. When I watched the Olivier Othello I found his "black-face" Othello distracting from an otherwise fine film (and the idea of "black-face is offensive any way you put it). Hopkin's Othello is a slightly different case, because it's clear they've made him more of a Middle Eastern character than an African and because Hopkin's is such a strong character actor.

All in all I highly recommend the film.


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