Transformations of Othello - Transcript

3Transformations: A new context plus a new medium equals a new meaning!

Anthony: Chris, I know you are not a big fan of adaptations of Shakespeare, but don’t you think the Andrew Davies film based on Shakespeare’s Othello successfully brings a whole new meaning to a contemporary audience that perhaps a faithful re-enaction of the stage play itself does not?

CHRIS: Well, yes. I have to admit in this adaptation; Andrew Davies does a great job in making Shakespeare relevant to a modern audience.   He retains the core themes - Othello’s human frailty, sexual jealousy, deception, self-deception and ability to be led by Iago’s misinformation and manipulation.   And there are obvious parallels to Shakespeare’s character paradigms in the Davies film. However, a film version based on a play that was written 400 years ago has to reconceptualize a number of elements in order to make it connect with a modern audience and I will state that Davies does this rather well.

Anthony: Davies film is set in contemporary London compared to 1600 Venice.

Chris: Yes, and as a result there is a natural shift in values that Davies has to account for in order to create a new meaning relevant to today.

Anthony: That’s true; Davies changes all the characters slightly.   He transforms Othello from a Military General to a black metropolitan police commissioner; Iago from his lieutenant to Jago, Othello’s assistant commissioner.   Cassio becomes Michael Cass, who is appointed by Othello to protect his wife from racially motivated rioters.   Desdemona, who is Dessie in the film is a much more independent character, reflecting a more modern sensibility. And Emilia, Iago’s superficial love, is portrayed as Lulu in the film.

Chris:       Yes, and he transforms them to make them more believable to a modern audience, for example, I think he gives Iago better motivation in his vendetta against Othello. By promoting him above Jago’s position, it unleashes feelings about Othello that Jago...