12 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Othello [DVD] (DVD)
I have waited 42 years to get this off my chest, so thanks Amazon for the opportunity.
I was studying Othello for A-level and we were taken to see the film, after which my English teacher rhapsodised about Olivier's performance.
In point of fact, Olivier pulled the rug from under the dramatic climax of the play.
We have been watching Othello going more and more wrongheaded, and the frustration is intense. We want to bang Othello's head against the wall and tell him to stop being an eejit. And right at the end, in storms Emilia and does it for us. The catharsis is quite overwhelming.
Everything in Shakespeare's writing clearly delineates Emilia as the second heroine of this play - feisty, strong, fearless, and with absolutely no time for fools.
The moment where it dawns on her who is responsible for the whole mess: "My husband!!" is thrilling.
But oh dear, Laurence, you cast Emilia as a pretty, wimpy, soft little thing, clinging to Othello in distress, when in fact she should have been a Tartress virtually flinging him off the battlements.
I hope Shakespeare has forgiven you.
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Initial post: 13 May 2010, 20:10:44 BST
Last edited by the author on 13 May 2010, 20:13:26 BST
I must respectfully disagree with this review. Olivier's "Othello," for it certainly is HIS star turn in his greatest interpretation of his greatest role, is beyond meaningful negative criticism. Of course many have argued the "black moor" choice, the unorthodox Desdemona of Maggie Smith, even the underplayed Iago of Frank Finlay on stage (which is masterful when seen up close on film). Some, myself included have felt substantially cheated by the too-close camera work, which unfairly displays what appears as "over-acting" when not seen from 30 feet distance in the theater. Olivier's panther-prowl was one of the great coups de theatre, as was his epileptic seizure -- not properly filmed at all. BUT to criticize Joyce Redman's Emilia is simply unfair. She has been one of Britain's greatest stage actresses for decades. Her performance in the movie "Tom Jones," nominated for an Academy Award, is simply unforgettable. I saw her performance of Emilia on stage three times, and have watched the film countless more. She builds her characterization in a very complex and coherent way: a robust sexual woman in contrast to Desdemona's heroic innocence, a perfect power-foil to Maggie Smith, a life-and-death gameplayer with her husband, Iago, a beautifully graduated foe of Othello tempered by complete love and trust of Desdemona's judgement. She delivered the most magnificent explosion of truth and revelation in the fifth act denouement I have ever seen. She blew Olivier and Finlay both off the stage like leaves before a tempest; and the film DOES capture these tones in her performance, albeit in too much close-up and too little focus on her continually building reaction to circumstances. Sorry to have to take such strong exception to the reviewer's life-long disappointment with the production and Redman; but the criticisms are simply not justifiable, especially if you have seen this great stage production ACTUALLY performed on stage. The film is unfortunately just a glimmer of what was a theatrical cataclysm.
In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2010, 15:03:43 BST
John Davison says:
Well I must thank you for disagreeing with such civility.
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