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  • Othello [DVD] [1990]
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Othello [DVD] [1990]

19 customer reviews

Price: £34.75
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Product details

  • Actors: Ian McKellen, Imogen Stubbs, Willard White, Zoe Wanamker, Marsha Hunt
  • Directors: Trevor Nunn
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Metrodome
  • DVD Release Date: 17 Nov. 2003
  • Run Time: 205 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000BZNJT
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,103 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

This 1989 RSC production of Othello features a superlative, multi award-winning performance by the great Sir Ian McKellen as the dastardly Iago, alongside a rich and vivid portrayal of the eponymous hero by Jamaican operatic bass Willard White and a mould-breaking interpretation of Desdemona by director Trevor Nunn’s future wife, Imogen Stubbs. With far fewer characters than Shakespeare’s other tragedies and no subplots, Othello has an unparalleled simplicity, which this version brilliantly captures. It is the story of the doomed love between Desdemona, a beautiful and fiercely loyal young Venetian woman and Othello, an ageing Moroccan mercenary. Unfortunately for the happy couple, erstwhile friend Iago harbours an irrational hatred and jealousy of the noble and brave Othello. Determined to destroy both Othello’s relationship with Desdemona and indeed his very life, Iago begins a subtle campaign of vilification, which inevitably and inexorably leads to tragedy.

Nunn’s version, set on Cyprus during the nineteenth century, brilliantly uses light, costumes and cinematography to underline the play’s themes of innocence, infidelity, ownership, manipulation and sexual jealousy. The result is a truly unforgettable production.

Review

" … as near to perfect a piece of television drama as you can get" -- The Times

"Ian McKellen gives a mesmerizing performance" -- The Daily Telegraph

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Mar. 2004
Format: DVD
Excellent cast and performance. The characters are brought to life and the complex relationships between them are well developed. Ian McKellan does an electrifying Iago. Imogen Stubbs brings depth to a very difficult character - Desdimona can be too shallow, but Stubbs gives the character life and vitality to make her real.
The down side is that it looks like a taping of the theater performance. The power that good camera work and sets can bring is lost here. But this is easily made up by the cast.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Lovborg on 22 Nov. 2007
Format: DVD
It's one of those accepted blips: any production of "Othello" doesn't rely on the performance of the eponymous hero, but of his Nemesis, Iago.
And what an Iago Ian McKellen makes! Absolutely astounding. You have to see it.
Willard White is serviceable as Othello, Zoe Wanamaker is her usual superb self as Emilia and Imogen Stubbs is surprisingly unpunchable in a role that really could only be played properly by a 23 year old Jeanne Moreau.
Great production that (voguishly, but brilliantly) takes the play down to its domestic roots and plays as a chamber piece.
There are always going to be limitations to film versions of theatre, but by accepting that this is what this "Othello" is, Trevor Nunn has come up with a production to treasure.
If you want a real treat, buy his "Macbeth" (also with McKellen, matched by a towering Judi Dench) at the same time. If anything, it's even better.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Yim on 2 Nov. 2003
Format: DVD
Fantastic...amazing...marvellous
Really entertaining (and yet strangely educational) adaptation that certainly helped me to fully understand the play and ensured a good grade at A Level English.
Superior to every other Shakespeare adaptation by a country mile, Ian McKellen puts in an unbelievable performance as the Machiavellian Iago that puts most other actors to shame
Everything about the production is class and although the idea of watching a Shakepeare play is not appealing to all, this could be enjoyed by anyone
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gwen on 5 Oct. 2009
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
this was purchased for my daughter who is sitting her higher english exam this year,she found the words used in the novel were difficult to understand,finding a DVD was extremelly hard,so purchased this item.It has helped my daughter so much and i would recommend for anyone in a similar position to purchase it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. Brown on 4 Jun. 2009
Format: DVD
I wasn't sure which of the many versions on offer I should buy and pondered long and hard (we wanted it to help our daughter with her GCSE)before I decided on this version - and I don't think I could have chosen better. The cast is superb but Ian Mckellern is outstanding as Iago, his asides to the camera are wonderfully conspiratorial. It has a 'stagey' feel which I loved. Equally the transference of the play to the 19th Century worked really well. I can recommend this version unreservedly - it is the full play (Three and a half hours almost)and even has an 'interval'! Bravo to all involved in this production.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Smith on 28 Oct. 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
DVD turned up within 24 hours - well done Amazon and Royal Mail.

As with other reviews here, the quality of the acting can't be faulted. So I'll review with from a different perspective...

It is entirely filmed on a set, there are outdoor scenes in the play but they are all filmed in doors, so it feels a little dark and claustrophobic.

Unfortunatley, the picture quality is more like watching a video tape, not what DVD can offer. I know the material is from 1990, but it's not the dark ages. The picture is washed out somewhat, there is fringing on the images and it is a bit grainy at times. Metrodome could have spent some time post-processing the print to bring out more colour and contrast at least.

I'll be interested to compare this DVD with my SVHS recording I made of it at the time - I could probably capture a better quality print!!!

All the negativity out of the way, you'll soon forget these issues once you are engrossed in the content.
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By Terry on 18 Mar. 2011
Format: DVD
Trevor Nunn's original production for the RSC is here remade for television. The entire cast is superb, but a special mention must go to Ian McKellen who is outstanding as Iago. It is often said that this play is more about Iago than Othello, and it is certainly the case that Ian McKellen's performance lives longer in the memory. I was so blown away by his portrayal of the villian, that I doubt I shall ever witness better.

Like another reviewer, I thought the sound quality on this DVD was poor. Sadly, there are no subtitles to help overcome this, but I found that listening through headphones improved things considerably. The picture is also a bit of a let down. I'm no expert, but I believe that the technology exists to clean up old video and film. Perhaps a future release could address some of these issues? Even so, the performances ensure that you will not be disappointed with this full version of the play.

The costumes, and especially the navy blue infantry uniforms, have something of the American Civil War about them, but work surprisingly well given the many references to Europe in the play. The sets are somewhat basic, but that isn't too surprising given the production's stage origins. The performances more than make up for the indoor studio feel. For a more cinematic experience, you could try the 1995 version starring Kenneth Branagh as Iago, though that version is abridged.

Despite some reservations with the quality of picture and sound, I would recommend this version over the others available if you are studying the play.

As for extras there is an audio commentary by Nunn, McKellen and Stubbs. The History of Othello, Words from Ian McKellen, and Biographies, are simple text articles and nothing to get excited about.

It is lucky for us that a decision was made to commit Trevor Nunn's RSC production to film.
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