British Universities Film & Video Council

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Othello

Synopsis
Independent feature film version of Othello with an all-black cast.
Language
English
Country
United States
Medium
Film
Technical information
Colour / Sound
Year of release
1980
Duration
115 mins

Credits

Director
Liz White
Producer
Liz White
Cinematographer
Charles Dorkins
Music
Jonas Gwangwa
Cast
Yaphet KottoOthello
Audrey DixonDesdemona
Richard DixonIago
Louis ChisholmMichael Cassio
Olive BowlesEmilia
Benjamin AshburnMontano
Douglas GrayRoderigo
Jim WilliamsBrabantio
Lincoln, Snr PopeDuke of Venice
Liz WhiteBianca

Additional Details

Production type
Fiction Films
Plays
Othello
Subjects
Drama
Keywords
Shakespeare, William (1564-1616); Multicultural casting; Black actors

Notes

Notes
The film was made on a budget of $200,000 which the director financed herself. It makes substantial cuts. Peter S. Donaldson’s article in Shakespeare on Film Newsletter notes the excision of Act 1 and its reappearance as quotation or flashback later in the film, the elimination of all unnamed and minor characters including the Venetian senate, and the compression of the final scene. Othello’s final speech is given in voiceover. The self-punishment and final kiss, are pre-empted by freeze frame.

Cut and edited scripts are held in the archives of the Birmingham Shakespeare Library.
General
The film derived from Liz White’s stage production of the play in Martha’s Vineyard, Shearer Summer Theater and in Harlem in 1960. The film version was shot over a four-year period from 1962-1966 and filmed on Martha’s Vineyard and Cobbleclose Farm, N.J.

South African-born musician Hugh Masekala worked on the film’s soundtrack.
History
The film was conceived in the 1950s, completed in 1966 but not screened until its premiere at Howard University in 1980. It has never been commercially released.
Reviews
`Liz White’s Black Othello’ by Peter S. Donaldson in Shakespeare on Film Newsletter, vol.11, no.1, December 1986, p 5,10

Archive

Name

New York Public Library

Web
http://www.nypl.org/ External site opens in new window
Phone
+1 212 621 0618
Address
Driscoll Media Center
20 West 53 Street
New York, New York 10019-6185
USA

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