Compare the ways in which the following were interpreted by Oliver Parker in his film version of Othello.a. The relationship of Desdemona and Othello as a married couple,andb. the individual...

Compare the ways in which the following were interpreted by Oliver Parker in his film version of Othello.

a. The relationship of Desdemona and Othello as a married couple,
and
b. the individual characterization of one of these major characters: Othello, Iago, or Desdemona.

Be sure (a) to consider how this interpretation reflects the overall vision of the script in Parker's film, and (b) to use specific, detailed examples in support of your points.

 

Expert Answers
scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A. Parker's portrayal of Othello and Desdemona's relationship is certainly in keeping with Shakespeare's characterization of the lovers.  At the film's beginning, Desdemona is enamoured with her husband and publicly chooses him over her father.  Similarly, Fishburne plays an Othello who dotes on his wife, worries about her safety, and is unashamed to speak openly of his love for her.  Parker's choice to include this information at the beginning of the film makes the unraveling of the couple's marriage even more tragic and dramatic.  The couple is also quite passionate.  Parker demonstrates this through Othello's sensuous comments and his rush to spend time with his wife in Cyprus.  This passion makes it more believable later on when Othello becomes obsessed with Desdemona's loyalty.

B. Iago's Individual Characterization: When my students read Othello, I show them clips from Parker's version of the play, and they are fascinated by Kenneth Branagh's portrayal of Iago.  I'm not sure if it was Parker's or Branagh's idea to turn soliloquies and asides into Iago speaking directly to the camera, but it works extremely well to get across Iago's two-facedness.  My students always feel that Iago is talking directly to them, and that we are the only ones who fully know the extent of the villain's plot against Cassio, Othello, and Desdemona.