Othello by Shakespeare
Extracts from this essay...
Ah...woe is them who love too well! This is the beauty of great works of art in any of its forms; humanity does not change. Throughout time, we still and always will appreciate the things that stir our emotions: love, honour, betrayal, courage, sorrow, death. Are you familiar with Shakespeare's gripping tale of "Othello"? If so, here is your opportunity to become re-acquainted with this masterpiece while enjoying exceptional acting, adept cinematography and the absorbing tragic tale true to its origin. If you are unfamiliar with the tale, prepare yourself for many mind-blowing twists and turns at the hands and lips of the master evil conniver, Iago. The Plot...Very Simplified: Othello, a respected Army General, secretly marries Desdemona, much to the envy of his friend, Iago. Iago, motivated by jealousy and complete lack of compassion toward others, has "hatred & jealousy" to motivate his every move...and evil-doings at the mercy of a brilliant manipulator and ruthless rogue means tremendous trouble and sorrow for all. But I get ahead of myself. To begin, Iago awakens Desdemona's Father with the news of the clandestine joining: "A dark ram is topping your white ewe...."Ah!
The plot thickens. And it weaves and bobs and twists and turns and takes us on a delicious yet unsettling serpentine chase through treachery and trickery. This is Shakespeare, after all - a master storyteller! But ....what about the production? Is a modern filming of Shakespeare for everyone's taste? Clearly, no. The Language True to the Bard's original, "Othello's" dialogue comes from the pages of Shakespeare's work. And it is difficult... at first. The heightened speech of the day is not we are accustom to: there are no short cuts taken - characters express themselves at great length and with great eloquence and wit. And one cannot deny the beauty of the language - delicate even when being bold; polite, even when being brusque. But don't be prematurely put off by this. Bear with it a short time and it pays off. If you make it past the first five minutes, you may eventually become comfortable, as the rhythm starts to become internalized and soon begins to sound quite accessible. Despite the initial difficulties in comprehension, I became rapt in the plot and the intense concentration required proved to my benefit , as I became completely involved in the drama.
It was horrible to watch the jubilant happiness of the new lovers become undone. The perception of the heartbreak to come was intense. I detested Iago for his ruthlessness and hatefulness! All the emotions audiences felt so long ago - they still exist today. What Else? There a couple of scenes that were unusual - when Iago speaks to the camera - to the audience-and I suppose this might have been originally a soliloquy. But they seem very out of place. All of a sudden I was jolted out of my "suspension of disbelief" and cosiness of the play, by the intrusion of a personal message from one of the actors! On the other hand, Iago, though a cruel character, is a treat to watch as he spins his webs of deception then glances knowingly at the camera. This is one of Branagh's most inspired roles! Although it has been many years since I read "Othello", the film seems to remain true to its original while benefiting from new technology and artistic perceptions. It is a commendation to William Shakespeare (though he doesn't need it from me) as well as the Director and actors who moved the production from "theatre in the round" to "Castle Rock Productions".
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