This film is an adaptation of William Shakespeare‘s Othello. Othello is a Moor who has left his hometown Venice to fight against the Turks on the island of Cyprus. During the battle, he was accompanied by his faithful lieutenant, Cassio. As the film opens, Othello is returning to Venice from the long fight against the Turks. With much excitement, he meets with his love, Desdemona.

General Othello (Laurence Fishburne), is the only African in the Venetian army, and is carrying on a courtship with white noblewoman Desdemona (Irène Jacob). Their hasty marriage causes some political upheaval, but the military leader is quickly dispatched to halt an invasion on Cyprus. Once there, Othello’s lieutenant, Iago (Kenneth Branagh), who believes Othello has wronged him, conceives a plan to get revenge by convincing the new husband that his wife is unfaithful.

 

Shakespeare’s choice of a Moor hero for his tragedy must have been deliberate. His direct source was an Italian tale from [Geraldi] Cinthio’s Hecatommithi (1565); he followed this tale in using the love between a Moor and a young Venetian girl of high birth as the basis of his plot, but in little else. The original story is crude and lacking in subtlety. Cinthio, in accordance with the demands of the time, expresses concern that his tale should have a moral purpose. He gives it as recommending that young people should not marry against the family’s wishes, and especially not with someone separated from them by nature, heaven and mode of life. Such a moral has nothing to do with Shakespeare’s play, except in so far as he uses it ironically, so his choice of the tale remains obscure. Perhaps he regretted his creation of the cruel and malevolent Aaron, and found himself imagining the feelings of proud men, possibly of royal descent in their own countries, humiliated and degraded as slaves. Whatever his intentions may have been, we have to take seriously the significance of Othello’s race in our interpretation of the play. This is all the more important because teachers will find it largely ignored by critical commentaries. See Blacks in English Renaissance Drama and the Role of Shakespeare’s “…

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M.H. Solicitor/Model Scout
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American born Moor, Author, History Researcher, Modernist, 720 Entrepreneur/ Corporate Mogul in the making; who observes & analyzes human nature for data mining purposes. Knowing is Half the Battle, Wisdom is needed for appropriate application of knowledge and right reasoning.

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