Directed by Orson Welles • 1952 • Italy, United States
Starring Orson Welles, Suzanne Cloutier, Micheál MacLiammóir
Gloriously cinematic despite its tiny budget, Orson Welles’s OTHELLO is a testament to the filmmaker’s stubborn willingness to pursue his vision to the ends of the earth. Unmatched in his passionate identification with Shakespeare’s imagination, Welles brings his inventive visual approach to this enduring tragedy of jealousy, bigotry, and rage, and also gives a towering performance as the Moor of Venice, alongside Suzanne Cloutier as the innocent Desdemona, and Micheál MacLiammóir as the scheming Iago. Shot over the course of three years in Italy and Morocco and plagued by many logistical problems, this fiercely independent film joins MACBETH and CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT in making the case for Welles as the cinema’s most audacious interpreter of the Bard.
The last completed feature of any kind by Orson Welles, this 1979 documentary dives into the production of OTHELLO and includes an extended conversation between Welles and actors Micheál MacLiammóir and Hilton Edwards.
In this interview, filmed in 2017, Simon Callow, actor and author of the multivolume biography “Orson Welles,” discusses the production of OTHELLO, especially Welles’s relationship with actors Micheál MacLiammóir and Hilton Edwards.
The question of race is central to OTHELLO. In this interview, filmed in 2017, George Washington University professor Ayanna Thompson, author of “Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race and Contemporary America,” discusses the complicated history of white actors portraying Othello the Moor.