What film techniques does Oliver Parker's Othello use to show themes of jealousy and revenge? Please help! Thank you.

Expert Answers
durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Oliver Parker's 1995 film version of Othello, Laurence Fishburne plays Othello. Iago is played by Kenneth Branagh and the plot, with some liberal interpretations and changes, follows Shakespeare's original as Iago enlists the help of the ever hopeful Roderigo, expecting to win over Desdemona at Othello's expense and the unwitting Emilia, Iago's wife, as she contributes to the physical evidence which Othello so desperately craves in proving Desdemona and Cassio's betrayal. 

Just as Shakespeare uses literary devices to create and enhance meaning, so Parker uses film techniques to highlight themes such as, in this question, Othello's jealousy and Iago's revenge. Othello's jealousy is destructive and, as a Moor and something of an outsider but nonetheless married to the daughter of a senator in Venice, Othello has been entrusted to fight the Turks. 

This goads Iago, having been passed over, and his hatred towards Othello is intensified by his purposeful connection to the audience when he looks directly at the camera on various occasions or muses to himself, a form of sharing with his audience. The audience has no reason to doubt the strength of Iago's convictions and his purpose in exacting his revenge. This "thriller" is intensified as Iago reminds the audience, with clever use of camera angles, that "I hate the Moor." The connection between Iago and the audience would unnerve some and create sympathy in others. This reveals Parker's use of various techniques in creating this thriller-type film and drawing attention to the jealousy and the revenge themes and in helping connect his characters to the audience. Notably, the characterization is itself a film technique.  

In giving the play a 20th century feel, Parker uses language familiar to the audience to improve interpretation and to make Othello's jealousy more intense whilst not detracting from a rich, sixteenth century culture. He also uses montages to indicate, not only the passage of time but, as there are several scenes which have been omitted from the original, to ensure that the film flows and that the audience knows that Othello's jealousy is consistently being fed until the point where Othello will lose control. The fatalistic-style of film noir is hinted at in Parker's film and the resultant dramatization, rather than a precise re-enactment of Shakespeare's play, is the result.