O – The One Othello

O, or “The One” as it is known in Europe, is a 2001 movie interpreting Shakespeare’s play Othello in the context of Palmetto Grove, a prestigious South Carolina boarding school.

O DVD cover

Othello is Odin “O” James (Mekhi Phifer) the school’s only black student, the star of the school’s basketball team, the Hawks, with the potential to go pro in the NBA. He’s at the school on a basketball scholarship. Desdemona is Desi Brable (Julia Stiles), daughter of the school’s dean, girlfriend of O. Desi and O are a showcase item in the school’s social scene.

Iago is Hugo, (Josh Hartnett), steroid-shooting son of the Hawks’ basketball coach, desperate for the affection of his father. He is passed over by his father in favour of O during an important game.

Duke of Venice is Coach Duke Goulding (Martin Sheen). Brabantio is Bob Brable, (John Heard), father of Desi.

Cassio is Michael Cassio, (Andrew Keegan), basketball player. Roderigo is Roger Rodriguez, (Eldon Henson) Hugo’s picked-on room mate, who’s sweet on Desi. Emilia is Emily (Rain Phoenix) is Desi’s roommate and best friend, and Hugo’s girlfriend. Bianca is Brandy (Rachel Shumate), the girlfriend of Micahel Cassio.

Conversation in “O” is carried out in modern day English.

Shakespeare’s killings are carried out in O with shooting (Emilia, Cassio, O) and strangling (Desi). The film was originally set to be released in 1999. With the Columbine School shootings Miramax decided to shelve the “O” until 2001.

Screenplay was written by Brad Kaaya. Filming was directed by Tim Blake Nelson. Cinematography was by Russell Lee Fine. The film was edited by Kate Sanford. Dreamworks provided production backing. Lions Gate finally distributed the movie.

Original music was written by Jeff Danna. The score includes “Ave Maria” from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Otello, sung by Renata Scotto with London Philharmonic Orchestra.

See O at IMDB

“O” has a parallel with “Ten Things I Hate About You” setting of “Taming Of The Shrew” in a Seattle high school.

Rating for “O” is generally for ages 15 and over.

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