Critics Consensus

Perhaps less than the sum of its parts, Othello is still highly entertaining, and features excellent performances from Laurence Fishburne and Kenneth Branagh.



Total Count: 39
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Movie Info

Actor Oliver Parker made his directorial debut with this adaptation of the tragic play by William Shakespeare that abridges the original text by half and ups the quotient of sex and violence. Laurence Fishburne stars as the Moorish general Othello, who returns a hero after crushing an invasion attempt by the Turkish army near Cyprus. Pledged to marry the lovely Desdemona (Irene Jacob), Othello ignores the advice of his intended's father, who tells him that she may have a deceptive nature. Othello's aide Iago (Kenneth Branagh), jealous over the elevation of his rival, Cassio (Nathaniel Parker, the director's real-life brother) to lieutenant, begins scheming to make Othello believe that Desdemona and Cassio are carrying on an affair. On the slimmest of evidence, Iago manages to manipulate Othello's suspicious, distrustful nature. Played previously in black face on film by actors Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier, Parker's production of Othello (1995) was the first major cinematic production to cast an African-American in the title role.

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Critic Reviews for Othello

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (12)

  • A highly engaging attempt at Shakespeare's most domestic tragedy.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

    Anna Smith

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Mr. Branagh's superb performance...guarantees this film an immediacy that any audience will understand.

    May 20, 2003
  • Davies has done an admirable job of condensing the sprawling action.

    Oct 15, 2002
    Hollywood Reporter
    Top Critic
  • Parker has shown how involving and moving Shakespeare can still be on the screen.

    Feb 13, 2001 | Full Review…
  • The movie is roughly on the same cinematic level as the Mel Gibson Hamlet, though it tends to get under your skin a little more once it gets rolling.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3.5/4

    Mike Clark

    USA Today
    Top Critic
  • Parker, whose screenplay strips down the original play, merely produces a lackluster essence.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

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