Wednesday, February 16, 2011

OTHELLO (1952)

‘Look at her, moor if thou hast eyes to see
She has deceived her father and may thee.’

One of the finest and classic screen adaptation of Bard’s original tragedy directed-acted by Master Orson Welles. It’s his second Shakespearean screen adaptation after ‘Macbeth’. Welles took time of more than three years to finish it due to financing the film independently and meanwhile worked for several other films as an actor including ‘The Third Man’ and completed the film from earned money. Welles not only directed it pitch perfect but also acted like none. His towering personality and immense baritone voice lived the pathos of the moor on screen. Watch him rendering that ‘O now for ever tranquil mind’ soliloquy with intensity and I doubt was any other man able to did the same justice!

Does this immortal classic need any summary/plot description? Okay, for those who haven’t read the literary classic, here’s just nutshell- The moor of Venice, Othello fell in love with young and noble Desdemona and the cunning and treacherous Iago plotted a perfect scheming by making Cassio a scapegoat to spread poison in the mind of the moor. The rest is all Shakespearean hamartia of suspiciousness, jealousy and hate and human flaws coiled up together to make it one of the immortal tragedy of all time.

Back to Welles; he’s the master of image like Bresson, Godard and several other auteur of world cinema. Technically any Welles film is the reference material for creative and innovative cinematography and editing and this one too is another proof of it. His early German expressionism cinema and Eisenstein influence clearly reflected in the beginning of those B&W frames as film opens. Welles kept the ethos of Bard’s literary version intact but didn’t treat it like conventional faithful dramatic stage play. Cinematically Welles treated it like dark brooding noir with uncommon dark shadows, low lights, extreme close ups and brilliant low and ground angle shots.

Need I say ‘must watch’?

Ratings- 8.5/10

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