The 1995 film, although using Shakespeare’s language, selects only the script from the original that connects with a sexually aware setting. Much of the poetry of the original is lost for the sake of flow and continuity.
Screenplay was written by Parker, who had previously played Iago and Roderigo himself in theatrical versions of Othello. Othello (1995) was filmed on location primarily at a 15th century castle near Rome.
Othello, played by American actor Laurence Fishburne, provides a powerful presence in this film, more so than the stereotyped version envisaged by Shakespeare.
French/Swiss actress IrÃ¨ne Jacob, as Desdemona, brings a sense of exotic sensuality to her role but struggles to win the heart of the audience.
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With only two hours (compared to four hours in the play) to play out his role, Kenneth Branagh, as Iago, is clearly treacherous and murderous from the beginning.
Oliver Parker takes Shakespeare’s black and white symbolism and explores them carefully in contrasting treatments of night time scenes in Venice and daytime scenes in Cyprus.
Cassio: Nathaniel Parker, (Oliver’s brother)
Roderigo: Michael Maloney
Emilia: Anna Patrick
Montano: Nicholas Farrell
Bianca: Indra OvÃ©
Lodovico: Michael Sheen
Gratiano: Andre Oumansky
1st Senator: Philip Locke
2nd Senator: John Savident
Duke of Venice: Gabrielle Ferzetti
Brabantio: Pierre Vaneck
Original music was scored by Charlie Mole.
See Patricia Dorval’s notes on threshold aesthetics in Oliver Parker’s Othello, including quicktime and RealMedia excerpts.
See Teachers Notes (21-page pdf) designed for GCSE Media Studies in the UK.