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Othello (2001)

Cast: Eamonn Walker, Eamonn Walker, Christopher Eccleston, more...
Director: Geoffrey Sax, Geoffrey Sax
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Acorn Media
Genre: Drama, Foreign, British Drama, Cops, Shakespeare, UK
Running Time: 96 min.
    see additional details...

This British TV production of Othello is more than a mere updating of the classic William Shakespeare tragedy; with freshly rechristened characters and brand-new dialogue, the film qualifies as a "rethinking" of the 17th century Shakespearean play, albeit still retaining the original's power and potency. The story is set in the London of the near future, a crime-ridden metropolis virtually torn apart by racial hostilities. By order of the Prime Minister, black police officer John Othello (Eamonn Walker) is promoted to Commissioner, a post dearly coveted by Othello's friend, mentor and fellow officer Ben Jago (Christopher Eccleston). Seething with jealousy, Jago contrives to discredit Othello in the eyes of the public, and to destroy John's interracial marriage to the lily-white Dessie (Keeley Hawes). Among those used as unwitting dupes to gain Jago's ends are Othello's trusted lieutenant, Michael Cass (Richard Coyle), scrupulously honest police constable Alan Roderick (Del Synnott), and Jago's own wife, Lulu (Rachael Stirling). Typical of the film's modernizations is the handling of the evidence "proving" Dessie's infidelity. In place of the incriminating handkerchief in the Shakespearean original, a robe is offered which has been tampered with by Jago so that the DNA lab will find evidence that Dessie has not only cuckolded Othello, but also is part of a greater plan to ruin his reputation. A co-production of London Weekend Television, Canada's CBC, and America's PBS, Othello was first shown in the U.S. as part of the last-named network's Masterpiece Theatre anthology on January 29, 2002. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Excellent modern adaptation by SRhodes May 21, 2002 - 11:36 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
I wrote this for the TVBarn website when this originally aired on PBS in January of 2002 (all links still work as of May 2002):

"Masterpiece Theater" presents a modern version of "Othello" on most PBS stations tonight. It covers some of the same issues as last week's "The Murder of Stephen Lawrence" in a way that is different, but just as compelling.

John Othello becomes police commissioner of London after police kill an innocent black man. Ben Jago, his mentor, is overlooked for the promotion and seeks revenge.

Eamonn Walker who plays Kareem Said on "Oz" gives a powerful performance as Othello. Jago (Christopher Eccleston) is charming and evil as he addresses the audience directly.

Because it is presented as a police story and in conversational language by screenwriter Andrew Davies, it might reach people who haven't read Shakespeare since high school.

The website has a section showing how one scene was adapted from the play and other features. The film is a co-production between WGBH, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and ITV which aired it in England in December of 2001.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.90)
10 Votes
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Shakespeare on DVD at GreenCine, annotated
It's hard to search for Shakespeare plays, so this list as of 12/07 may help. Alphabetized by main word in title; renamed adaptations such as Throne of Blood are mentioned but not listed. To see GC's own list, click any 'Shakespeare'-as-genre link.

see all lists

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