Othello (1995)

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Released 19-Dec-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 118:33
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Oliver Parker
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Laurence Fishburne
Irčne Jacob
Kenneth Branagh
Nathaniel Parker
Michael Maloney
Anna Patrick
Nicholas Farrell
Indra Ové
Michael Sheen
André Oumansky
Philip Locke
John Savident
Gabriele Ferzetti
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $14.95 Music Charlie Mole


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     This 1995 adaptation of the Bard's Othello is a stupendous piece of work. Lavish in its sets, lusty in its performance, portentous in its score - the 118 or so minutes fly by as one is absorbed into the language of Shakespeare, brilliantly interpreted by director Oliver Parker.

     Kenneth Branagh can be thanked for reigniting a broader audience's interest in Shakespeare's work, with his previous great presentations of Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing and Henry V amongst others, and here, he very nearly steals the show with his witty and villainous portrayal of the conniving Iago. Fortunately Laurence Fishburne is not intimidated, and plays a subtle and interesting Othello with restraint and dignity.

     If it's been a while since you were last acquainted with this piece, allow me to refresh your memory.

     Venice is being troubled by the Turks, so the Duke (played by Gabriele Ferzetti) commissions his best general, Othello, to quell the trouble. He is late to the summons, as he is secretly being married to the fair Desdemona (Irčne Jacob), much to the horror of Roderigo (performed somewhat histrionically by Michael Maloney) who has lusted after her from afar.

     Enter one Iago who, at a price, assures Roderigo that he can get Desdemona away from the swarthy moor and into his lusty arms. He inveigles his way into the confidence of Othello, and sets doubt in his mind about the fealty of Desdemona and his favoured lieutenant, Michael Cassio (Nathaniel Parker).

     As the plot thickens, intrigue lays upon intrigue until all is resolved in a bloody end.

     Parker's film is very deftly presented. For reasons of pace and clarity, he has edited Shakespeare's original text, but this should not offend anyone other than the absolute purists. The production flows fluently and stylishly with a self-assured wittiness that includes the audience very effectively. Dramatic and elegant, the acting is by and large excellent and the staging is crisp and fresh.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     This disc presents a jolly nice transfer.

     It is presented in a ratio of 1.78:1, which is close to its 1.85:1 origins, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     There was little evidence of low level noise, the shadow detail was great, and it enjoyed an excellent luminance. The focus was crisp and sharp and there was plenty of depth to the image.

     The colour palette utilised was very rich and warm, with a fantastic colour range in evidence, which were all well-contained and rendered. Skin tones were naturalistic and clear, and there was little to distract, with the minor exception of a touch of halation at around 52:18, which caused little challenge to the overall enjoyment.

     MPEG artefacts and film to video artefacts were at a minimum - there was the occasional hint of film spots, but nothing that was too irritating.

     Subtitles were accurate and easy to read, which is of great help with Shakespeare pieces, as they can be valuable in "tuning-in" your ear to the language.

     This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed between Chapters 25 and 26, at 91:06. It is quite disruptive to the flow of the movie at this point, but is clearly far superior to having to get up and flip the disc over.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There is a single Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack in English. There are no other options available.

     The dialogue was very clear and well modulated with no audio sync problems present.

     The musical score by Charlie Mole was excellent, and clearly he is a Parker favourite, having also worked with him on The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband. Frequently ominous and portentous, as the story dictates, it was also lyrical and whimsical when required, and served the dramatic purposes of the film very well.

     The sound fully utilised the available speakers, with a good sense of direction, and the subwoofer also got some work in an appropriate manner.

Extras

     There are no extras on this disc.

Menu

     The menu design is 16x9, static and silent.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

     Both versions are equally good, and there is no compelling reason to prefer one over the other.

Summary

     This is a slick, intense and very well performed piece of cinema. The acting is excellent, the production values are high, and the visual experience is enhanced by a very good transfer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Sunday, December 21, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
What about Welles? - wolfgirv
What about Welles? - NewcastleBoy (read my bio)