An Examination Of "O" The Movie: A Modern Adaptation Of Shakespeare's Othello

1936 words - 8 pages

Othello is a Shakespearean tragedy, taking place in Venice between 1471-1570. The hero, Othello, is a Moor and leader of the Venetian forces, who is recently married to Desdemona, the light-skinned daughter of the Senator Brabantio. Much to the dismay of Rodrigo, a suitor of Desdemona's, his friend Iago, a solider in the Venetian forces, knew of the elopement between the leader and his bride, yet failed to tell him. It is stated early on in the text that Iago harbors a deep dislike towards Othello, despite appearances. Although he serves under him in the army, he is filled with hatred because he was passed over when Othello appointed another man, Michael Cassio, as his lieutenant. Iago holds ...view middle of the document...

In a time without race acceptance, with war and boundaries of the socially acceptable clearly drawn, it is sometimes difficult to relate to everything we read in his text. It is not surprising that so many adaptations have been made to attempt to make easier to see the relationships that do exist and the overtones that still ring true in modern times.In the 2001 movie "O" written by Brad Kaaya and directed by Tim Blake Nelson, the Shakespearean text of Othello was modified and turned into a high school drama. The modern story takes place in a private school, where Odin (representing the original Othello) is the dark skinned star of the basketball team. Once he is awarded MVP he shares the honor with his loyal teammate Michael (Cassio). Hugo (Iago), a friend of Odin and another of his teammates is overcome with jealousy by this act and turns to lies, deceit, and trickery to ruin the happiness and success of his friend and his girlfriend Desi (Desdemona).Although in Othello it is sometimes unclear the source of Iago's envy, in "O" we see Hugo's anger rise as his father, the coach of the basketball team (Duke of Venice in Othello) Announces that he loves Odin as if he were his own son. The feeling of replacement of Odin in his own family, as well as his replacement by Odin and Micheal on the basketball team is what fuels Hugo's jealousy, which is similar to the motivation of Iago in the original text. Hugo felt that he deserved to be named MVP; in his mind he was the team. Although Nelson and Kaaya give us many good reasons why Hugo is jealous and feels hatred towards Odin (Othello) Shakespeare really doesn't explain Iago's motives behind setting up Othello, except Iago wants to take Cassio's place as second in the order of command. Iago also hints that he hates Othello because he suspects him of sleeping with his wife.Kaaya and Nelson take their own allowances however when incorporating drugs, parties, and youth into their text "O" and let it stray somewhat from the atmosphere that Othello provides of refinement, old fashioned ways of thinking and wartime. Some examples of inconsistencies are, the age of and the dedication amongst the characters, and the racial issues of the time.Othello, as written by Shakespeare is substantially older than his wife, but in the modern adaptation is roughly the same age. This is a change based mostly on what was socially acceptable when the text was originally written and when it was adapted, it wasn't uncommon then to find husbands with extremely younger wives.When modernized the text does a poor job of depicting the heartbreaking love and pain that is experienced by Othello when he suspects his wife has been unfaithful. In the play, though the characters have not known each other very long, they are deeply in love, have eloped and are dedicated to each other. In the end of the play, we see a mixture of love and hate demonstrated by Othello in Scene IV, when he struggles to damning his wife, yet at the same time...

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