After reading the play, Othello, this movie, produced by Tim Blake Nelson in 2001, was a great way to tie the entire plot together. As a student with many other classes and activities going on at the same time, it is hard to invest too much time into one play in one subject. In class we had the chance to hear the lively narration of the play, but once class was over, Shakespeare was irrelevant in comparison to the Spanish test the following period.
I enjoyed watching this movie because it brought the every other day focus on Othello that I was getting previously all together and compressed it all into one interesting and relatable movie. The movie may have been over dramatized, but it did a great job of reeling viewers in. There was so much excitement that it allowed me to actually want to know what would happen next (even though I had already read the play).
The engaging movie follows the plot of Othello much more accurately than I expected; yes, certain aspects were altered to be more contemporary, but after reading the play there was no problem making the connections that the directors intended. In the play, Othello is a happy, successful man who has a beautiful wife and a successful military career. In the movie, Odin James (Mekhi Phifer) is the basketball star on his high school team and his girlfriend, Desi (Julia Stiles), is the most popular and beautiful girl in school. In both the play and the movie, he has a great life as the story opens. Right away it is evident to see that Odin has enemies as well. One particular enemy is not just a bully or name-caller. Odin’s “enemy”, Hugo (Josh Hartnett), keeps his intentions and opinions to himself because he has lots of plans developing in his head. He is jealous of Odin’s success and harvests this envious energy into extreme hate and disgust with O. The movie and play follow Hugo’s (Iago’s in the play) spiteful plot to destroy Odin/Othello and his success. This escalates very quickly in both play and movie. You’ll have to watch in order to find out how Iago gets revenge, but nothing exactly turns out pleasantly…
Again, the issues discussed in the movie are much more dramatic than they would be in real life, but, being a movie meant for entertainment, the drama undoubtedly draws the audience in. The audience, however, should not be anyone under the age of 14 (at least). If the worst thing in this movie was swearing, it could be rated PG-13. The profanity, however, is the most mild part of the movie. There are a couple steamy sex scenes and many situations when hard drugs and alcohol are abused. Additionally, the violence escalates as the plot escalates. Older students and adults who understand why these aspects add to the story can easily handle the iffy scenes, but seeing this movie before you’re in highschool (at least) would not make any sense. As a highschooler, it was easy to understand the strife some of the characters were going through, and a seventh grader would hopefully not be able to relate yet.
All of the technical parts of the movie were just as expected. No crazy special effects, but everyone’s “library voices” were not always used. The acting was better than I expected. I usually have the idea that any movies that remake classic works of literature will always be a little cheesy or unbelievable. The directors and producers did a great job choosing the cast and writing the script. I appreciated seeing accurate representations of characters in the play and do not have many complaints. The movie was produced in 2001, so the subpar soundtrack makes sense to me. There were a few random songs used, such as the final song in the closing scene. It was too slow for the dramatic conclusion of the play. I can see that it was supposed to be dramatic and relative to the tragedy that occurs, but it did not fit in the scene. Other than that one track, the other music was there and not an issue, but did not add any unexpected feelings to the scenes.
By watching this movie, I was able to get the full Othello experience. I understood the basic plot when I read the play, but the movie allowed me to feel for the characters and to get emotionally attached to their stories. Since they were high school students dealing with lots of pressures from parents and peers, it was a very relatable movie for a fellow high schooler. I enjoyed the movie for its accurate representation and interpretation of Othello. I suggest this movie for anyone who has read the play because it brings everything full circle and is an entertaining break from the Elizabethan Era.