It is completely impossible for any of Shakespeares work to be replicated or reproduced. Instead many directors use the process of adaptation to tell a modernized version of his stories. William Shakespeare’s Elizabethan play Othello was a tragedy believed to have been written in 1603. It is an adaptation of the Italian writer Cinthio’s tale “Un Capitano Moro. ”The story focuses on the following main characters: Othello, A Christian Moor and general of the armies of Venice; his wife Desdemona, The daughter of the Venetian senator Brabanzio; his lieutenant Michael Cassio, A young and inexperienced solider, whose high position is much resented by Iago; Iago, Othello’s ensign who is the villain of the play; Emilia, Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s attendant; and Roderigo, A young and rich suitor of Desdemona. The play is set in Venice and Cyprus during the wars between Venice and Turkey. Othello is misled by his ensign Iago into believing his wife is unfaithful. O is a 2001 American drama film, directed by Tim Blake Nelson and written by Brad Kaaya. It is a modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Othello.
This story takes place in a contemporary high school setting. Both composers chose a setting that would be relevant and relatable to their intended audience. The characters are one of the major elements in the movie that were very similar to the play. It was easy for me to identify how each character from the movie related to the characters in the play. I instantly knew exactly who each character adapted from because either the first letter or the ending of their names were the same. Othello is now Odin James, The star of the basketball team and the school’s only African American student. Odin being the most valuable player and the only African American at his school is similar to how Othello is the ‘moor’ with a high status in Venice. Desdemona is Desi, the dean’s daughter and Odin’s girlfriend. Cassio is Michael Cassio, another basketball player and a close friend to both Odin and Desi. Iago is Hugo, the coach’s son, who is jealous of Odins athletic talent and fame.
He is the villain of the movie and leads them all to a tragic outcome. Emilia is Emily, Desi’s best friend and Hugo’s girlfriend. Roderigo is Roger, Hugo’s best friend, a young and rich student who wants to date Desi. The main difference between the play Othello and the movie O is the language. The words that are in Shakespeare’s plays often seem “foreign.” In order to understand Othello and grasp what I was reading I had to place the original text next to a modern translation. Then I had to go to sparknotes.com and read the summary and analysis of each Act. When I watched the film O I felt the complete opposite. The writer delivered the dialogue through colloquial language that included slang and profanity. I am more familiar with that type of language and it appeals to an adolescent audience.
Tim Blake Nelson easily transformed Othello into a contemporary film because of its current themes of love, jealousy, racism, and betrayal. The underlying message throughout this story is that appearances can be deceiving. In order to obtain their own desires Iago and Hugo use manipulative tactics to convince others into believing things that are not true. Shakespeare uses literary devices such as soliloquies, and asides to represent the theme illusion versus reality. He uses dramatic irony as a technique to reach his audience and clarify when the deception begins. Othello constantly refers to Iago as “Honest Iago,” however the audience is made aware in the first scene and throughout the play that he is not honest at all. Iago acts like he’s Othello’s most loyal friend, he even helps him find “proof” of Desdemona being unfaithful to him. These scenes are intertwined with short scenes in which Shakespeare uses soliloquies to share with the audience Iagos true plans.
Tim Blake Nelson also uses dramatic irony throughout the film. When Michael Cassio asks Hugo for advice regarding reputation Hugo responds “Like who gives a fuck about reputation, the only person that you have to answer to is yourself.” This quote highlights the theme of appearance versus reality because reputation/popularity is the driving force behind Hugos evil plan. Nonetheless, Hugo is seen as a trustworthy friend by both Odin and Michael. Through the use of editing, lighting, voice-overs, sound effects, and camera angles Tim Blake Nelson conveys the issue of jealousy. Instead of soliloquies, Voice-over is the main technique used in the film to reveal the inner thoughts of a character. During the beginning and ending of the movie Hugo states, “All my life I always wanted to fly. One day ill be the hawk and everyone will look at me.” These moments shows us the true intent of Hugo. The use of lighting is essential when portraying Hugo’s hidden jealously.
In the shadows is where Hugo reveals his ulterior motives. When it comes to mood music is the key advantage that a movie has over reading a script. When it comes to perception editing is the key advantage that a movie has over a written script. For example, during the sex scene Odin looks into the mirror and sees’s Mike’s body on top of Desis instead of his own. This is a point of view shot and the audience is given a look into Odin’s mind. It effectively shows the effects of jealousy, as it is clear now that Odin’s jealously is beginning to corrupt his mind. In the play Othello becomes so consumed by jealously that he falls into a trance and has a fit of epilepsy.
Shakespeare uses imagery to explain how deep jealousy can sink into a person. Iago tells Othello to beware of the “green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” Emilia describes jealously as a dangerously and uncannily self generating “monster begot upon itself, born on itself.” The late 16th century was a time of war and political conflict where things like reputation, honor, loyalty, trust, and fidelity were highly valued. Tim Blake Nelson incorporated these same values in O however he associated them with the modern youth culture which included violence, and drugs. Although Othello was filled with violence the main adaptation I noticed in the movie was the use of guns in opposed to swords.