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Othello (1952)

Orson Welles , Micheál MacLiammóir , Orson Welles    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 102.06
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Product Description

Product Description

Orson Welles' daring and visually adventurous production of William Shakespeare's classic play. Welles, one of the greatest directors ever, revered Shakespeare and was determined to bring his own versions of the Bard's work to the silver screen, though the studios resisted the idea. Without studio funding, Welles struggled for three years to make "Othello" with his own money. The film won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and critical acclaim but was rarely seen for many years. Over $1 million dollars in restoration work was spent, including re recording the score and re creating the sound effects, as well as updating the audio to digital. "Othello" remains a testament to Welles' legendary genius.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film but NOT "lost" Feb. 22 2003
By A Customer
I will not go into the film as many alreay have said how it is a great work of art despite its "troubled" filming history. My rating of 4 stars is therefore for the movie itself.
But DO NOT be deceived. Whereas the 1998 cut of Touch of Evil was "restored" using a Welles memo as guidelines, Othello was restored by presuming many things. First, dialogue was put in sync and unitelligible diaglogue was "voiced over." And second, the original score was redone, but not exactly as the original. You could say a new score was used in the "restored" film. The original cut was Welles' 1952 European version which has only ever been availible as a (OOP) 1995 Criterion LaserDisc. As Welles' daughter owns the rights to Othello, that's the 1992 "restored" version which she also helped on, it is the only one currently availible for purchase in the US.
While many casual fans will not notice or care about the little changes, don't be decieved into thinking this is "Orson's intended version." Also DO NOT be decieved into thinking this is a lost film. It was only lost in the sense that it had no distribution until the early 90's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Mad Dog
Welle's never had final cut after Kane. Everything from Ambersons on was in some way shape or form re-edited or "fixed" by it's producers. Occaissionally it was minor interferrence (like "The Stranger" or "Touch Of Evil"). Frequently is was outright (possibly malicious) butchery like "...Ambersons", or "...Shanghai".
But "Othello" seems to fall into the category of stupidity and incompetence. It's theoretically possible there was something wrong with the DVD I received, but I doubt it. Apparently, running out of money, Welles hired a low-end post-prod house, who used their worst staff to complete this film.
Thirty five years later it was restored (not completely, unfortunately), had is musical score reconstructed and re-recorded, and it's tracks re-mixed. Unfortunately there wasn't much they could do abut the dialog, which remains muffled and often out of sync.
But to the FILM:
The score is STUNNING. The Images are STUNNING. What's left of the performances is good to excellent. Othello is Welles flexing his design muscles beyond the pyrotechnics of Kane and Touch of Evil.
"Othello" is essentially a series of perfectly composed static shots -- very much like an Eisenstien film (Alexander Nyevsky or Ivan The Terrible come immediatly to mind). Shot in a real Castle, and brilliantly photographed by at least three DOPs, I think it may be the best designed of all Welle's films. Here Welles doesn't use the long take, or mise-en-scene to get himself out of trouble: it's all editing, dramatic compositions and lighting.
And once again he shows himself to be the master.
The music is still extrodinary.
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The recent restoration of Othello brings to cinematic space the magic of another masterpiece from Orson Welles. To think that a whole master negative of this film (which won the Best film at Cannes in 1952) was lying abandoned in a New Jersey warehouse, was discovered by accident and is the reason for this print that we now have access to, is enough to send shivers down the spine of any Welles-phile.
• Mise-en-scene: Like with many of his other works involving especially Shakespeare, be prepared for Welles' licenses and personal interpretation of subject matter pertaining to Othello. Yet at the end, we are left with a feeling of deep tragedy and loss for Othello, played by Welles himself, and though we feel that Othello was quite an idiot, we at least feel that he was a very unfortunate idiot at that!
• The problem may have been that the critical scene where Iago poisons Othello's mind and fuels his suspicion is scrappy and left unexplored. This may well have had little to do with Welles' artistic choices, and more with his monetary situation at the time. Welles' penury through his European sojourn is widely known and the passion with which he would invest into his films, every penny earned through moonlighting his booming voice and above-average acting skills is legendary, and should put this in context.
• The figure behavior of Micheál MacLiammóir is utterly convincing as the detestable Iago who is consumed by jealousy and rage at being overlooked as the second-in-command. But the person to steal our hearts is Suzanne Cloutier who portrays the fair-dame Desdemona. She is every bit as dainty as we would have imagined her to be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! June 19 2003
By A Customer
Great, just great. Yes, some of the music one wonders if Welles would have used, but it is pure Welles. If not updated the missing elements might take away from this work, instead they compliment it. A must own!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A neglected classic restored to glory Nov. 4 2002
The restoration team that resurrected this film deserve more than our thanks. They have given us back a film by a master, working with all his considerable, improvisational wit and style. Orson Welles is, by far, the 20th Century's best filmmaker. In company with "Touch of Evil," "Citizen Kane" and "F for Fake," his masterful adaption of Shakespeare's "Othello" is one of his best films. The thousands of hours of devoted work done by the filmmakers who helped restore this masterpiece (enhancing sound effects, painstakingly matching what had been a criminally out-of-sync soundtrack to the players' mouths, digitally sharpening the film's every frame) is shown to great effect in this DVD. For anyone interested in modern film, Welles' new "Othello" is an essential addition to a DVD film "library."
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great One does it again!
You see, I am one of these people who believe that Orson Welles is the perfect Shakespearian actor. He has the voice (that awesome voice! Read more
Published on March 9 2002 by Kendal B. Hunter
4.0 out of 5 stars Welles tackles the Bard
Orson Welles was a master showman, handling theatrical, radio and cinematic chores with both gusto and verve. Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2001 by GLENN WHELAN
5.0 out of 5 stars Put Out Thy Light!
This film blew me away! I always know what I am looking forward to in an Orson Welles film; brilliant camera angles over lapping dialogue and that masterfull voice but I was... Read more
Published on June 9 2001 by A*
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest Shakespeare film adaptation ever!
Orson Welles is arguably the best director of all time, and this is certainly the best Shakespeare adaptation on film. Read more
Published on June 7 2001 by Richard Burt
5.0 out of 5 stars This is what a DVD conversion should be!
It's a shame that this was a "lost" film for so long; but the care in restoring it and putting it on DVD should be a landmark for other classic films that need to move to... Read more
Published on June 21 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare & Welles--A Brilliant Combination!
If people today remember Orson Welles at all, it is probably as the pitchman who would "sell no wine before its time. Read more
Published on June 13 2000 by David Montgomery
5.0 out of 5 stars Somebody already said what I wanted to say and did it better
Read the review by Neville Blender. I couldn't add anything to his thoughts.
Published on June 3 2000 by A. Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Welles Gem
This is one of Orson's best. Considering how long it took to complete, it is a marvel of a feat. The only thing not great about it is the audio in terms of the words matching the... Read more
Published on June 3 2000 by Michael Pierce
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