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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: July ::
Re: *Oth.* Film; Othello v. Iago
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0537.  Friday, 7 July 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Ellen Edgerton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 6 Jul 95 18:30 EDT
        Subj:   *Othello* film news correction
 
(2)     From:   Debra Fiorini <
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        Date:   Thursday, 06 Jul 1995 12:22:03 E
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0535  *Othello* Film and Question
 
(3)     From:   John Owen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 6 Jul 1995 18:20:24 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0535  *Othello* Film and Question
 
(4)     From:   Douglas Flummer <
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        Date:   Friday, 7 Jul 95  00:21:21 CST
        Subj:   SHK 6.0535  *Othello* Film and Question
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ellen Edgerton <
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Date:           Thursday, 6 Jul 95 18:30 EDT
Subject:        *Othello* film news correction
 
Contrary to previous reports, Kenneth Branagh is >not< receiving $11.5 million
for starring in Oliver Parker's *Othello* film.  Reuters erroneously reported
this yesterday and has since issued a correction. The film's total budget is
$10.5 million and it has not been reported how much Branagh is getting (they
had reported he was being paid 7 million pounds, which I agree is an eye-brow
raiser).
 
Irene Jacob is Desdemona.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Debra Fiorini <
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Date:           Thursday, 06 Jul 1995 12:22:03 E
Subject: 6.0535  *Othello* Film and Question
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0535  *Othello* Film and Question
 
Robert,
 
I agree with you that Iago and Othello are rarely both made strong characters
in the same production, but I think they should be...and in one production that
I saw, they were. The concept of them both being strong individuals, but strong
in different ways worked out very nicely.  The overall production was not one
of the best and Desdemona was lacking in sustance, but the characters of Iago
and Othello were very engrossing. One aspect of the particular production that
I saw (in 1993) was that Emilia was not a victim of Iago, but a willing
participant in his schemes. I had envisioned her that way when I first read the
work, and it came across nicely on the stage and worked well.
 
However, although Iago and Othello can both be strong characters, I believe it
is usually either the choice of the director to make one overpowering - or -
the fact that if one is played by a major star, then that one becomes the
strongest character. I have a feeling that in the new film, Branagh as Iago may
come across as the most forceful and up-front character.
 
Debra
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Owen <
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Date:           Thursday, 6 Jul 1995 18:20:24 -0700
Subject: 6.0535  *Othello* Film and Question
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0535  *Othello* Film and Question
 
Opinion is fairly common that Othello is a contest in which either the Iago or
the Othello must prevail, preferably at the other's expense. This idea has been
encouraged by promoters of theatrical duels. The 19th century gave us the
spectacle of Irving and Booth alternating the protagonists, and the Old Vic, in
the late 50's presented John Neville and Richard Burton playing first Othello
then Iago to each other. Olivier's Othello at the National Theater, so
controversial in other respects, gave us at least a respite from this business.
In that production, Frank Finlay's Iago was not a smoothly attractive
super-villain, but an envious little man temporarily elevated by the intensity
of his selfishness. This put the focus properly on Othello, where it belongs --
he of the great heart and great tragic destiny. We are attracted by Iago's
cunning, but make no mistake -- the play stands or falls by the strength of the
Moor and by the extent to which we are able to identify with his dilemma.
 
John Owen
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Douglas Flummer <
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Date:           Friday, 7 Jul 95  00:21:21 CST
Subject: *Othello* Film and Question
Comment:        SHK 6.0535  *Othello* Film and Question
 
Based on my experiences with "Othello", it is my impression that central to the
plot is Iago's envy of Othello, the manner in which he puts that envy to action
through the manipulation of the other characters, and the way in which Othello
perceives Iago's manipulation of him and the other characters, with the
resulting action.  Therefore, I would think that the ultimate "Othello" would
have a very strong Iago--not overbearing, but one who aptly demonstrates the
strength of will and emotion to force Desdemona, Othello, and Cassius to do
things that they would not normally have a mind to do.  The ultimate "Othello"
would also have a strong Othello, one who can display the great battlefield of
emotions that is his mind.
 
Of course, it could be said that my experiences with Othello might be just as
limited as yours.  I would say, though, that the one version of Othello that I
was really impressed with (I have only seen it performed twice, and have read
it more than I have seen it) was with Anthony Hopkins as Othello.  I thought he
did very well in showing the great distance that lay in between what Iago was
driving him to and what his conscience told him in response.  It was a BBC
production, and I remember none of the other actors.
 
I would love to hear what others have to say on this.
 
Douglas Flummer
Civil servant, computer operator, and Shakespeare lover
Southern Illinois University
 

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