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


Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,760
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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) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (13)

  • 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…

Audience Reviews for Othello

  • Feb 06, 2012
    Fishburne's Othello has more more money associated with it than Welles' work but it is nonetheless as effective thanks to Laurence himself and a darkly effective Iago played to the hilt by Kenneth Branagh.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 27, 2010
    The evil Iago(Kenneth Branagh) pretends to be friend of Othello(Laurence Fishburn) in order to manipulate him to serve his own end, comes up with a devious plan to suspect that Othello's wife Desdemona(Irene Jacob) of infidelity. Oliver Parker's directorial debut is a bit of a disappointment. The language is so hard to comprehend(unless you are familiar with Shakespear's vocabulary), the cast is kinda distracting(thanks to Jacob since she still sounds French) and Kenneth Branagh as the evil snitch Iago, he mostly does his Woody Allen homage by talking to us in front of the camera. Laurence Fishburn as Othello is kind of on the quiet side since I felt this film wasn't about him but about his jealous friend Lago who wants Othello's power.
    Brian R Super Reviewer
  • Mar 08, 2010
    Recommended only to those who haven't yet seen enough Shakespeare on film.
    Robert F Super Reviewer
  • Nov 11, 2008
    As if we didn't have Othello transactions in the past,Branagh (Parker is a cover-up) lifts the emotional barrier in such high levels,the utmost banality is that Othello's character...is slowly revolting to become the hero!The supporting cast with Nathaniel Parker and Jacob are the unanimous film extracts.The "Cypriot" fortress and the flashy costumes are Venus' sapphires,i won't deny it,just next time remember to create some kind of innovation.
    Dimitris S Super Reviewer

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