Cinematic Techniques and Othello

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Last updated: March 12, 2019

The play Othello explores the unforgiving power of manipulation through Iago’s control and his ability of utilising the power of jealousy, which eventually leads to Othello’s transformation and the inevitable tragic ending. The power of manipulation causing the downfall of Othello’s transformation is shown throughout the play Othello written by William Shakespeare, these ideas are portrayed by the use of language techniques such as: allusions, emotive language, and exclamations. Oliver Parker, the director of Othello the film, also emphasises this idea through his use of: excessive shadowing, close-up camera shots and camera techniques.Both of these texts interrelate by emphasising the significance of the power of manipulation and how it shapes and moulds Othello, individually.

Throughout the play, Othello is evidently shown to be at first a rational and calm character; however his demeanour and language rapidly changes as Iago manipulates him with hints of jealousy and suspicion. At the introduction of the play, Othello is confronted by Brabantio and is continuously insulted and threatened with words such “foul thief”, however Othello remains calm and his language is swift and eloquent. Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them” In using allusion, it reminds the audience of the words that Christ used when he demanded Peter, “Put up thy sword into the sheath” (John 18:11). This emphasises Othello’s calm restraint in contrast to Brabantio. In the process of Othello’s transformation due to the power of manipulation, it is clear to the audience that Othello’s language and tone starts becoming irrational and aggressive shifting away from the Othello we all knew and respected. Zounds, if I stir, or do but lift this arm, the best of you shall sink in my rebuke. ” Euphemism is used in order to softening Othello’s real intentions of the harsh truth which allow him to maintain his dignity and honour, however it also portrays the slow change within Othello.

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Eventually as the play proceeds with Iago successfully manipulating Othello, Othello is finally transformed and acts like a beast and his language becomes unstable and erratic. “ Pish! Noseses, ears, and lips. Is’t possible? Confess? Handkerchief? O devil! The use of excessive exclamations and rhetorical questions reveal that the once, noble and calm general we all knew; is now teemed with anger and is blinded by jealousy and is now rambling nonsense and relates much to of a beast that he falls into a trance. The power of manipulation and Othello’s transformation caused by jealousy is evidently revealed in Shakespeare’s play Othello.

The first scene provided directed by Oliver Parker stresses the idea of Iago’s enjoyment of manipulation and Othello’s degraded transformation. This is perceived in the middle of the scene whereby several close-up shots are redirected to Iago’s face.As Othello is walking side to side being unable to control himself, the close-up shots show Iago’s face without any emotions and how he is savouring the idea that the previously known Othello whom was calm and honourable has now become like a wild driven beast. The scene also contains another film technique that Oliver Parker uses to demonstrate the power of manipulation; the use of the camera constantly following Othello while he walks side to side and the camera redirecting to Iago, motionless, reveals that Iago is the character whom is in control and has the power to manipulate Othello.With everything in tact in Iago’s plan of manipulating Othello, he is more than joyful.

As Iago manipulates Othello with hints of jealousy and suspicion, Othello’s character is moulded into a more uncontrollable and cynical character. This is shown at the introduction of the scene whereby Oliver Parker uses excessive shadowing on Othello’s face, the bars in the scene also symbolises a cage for a dangerous irrational creature whom is portrayed to be Othello. Within the scene, Othello’s transformation moulded by Iago’s ability to manipulate is strongly evident with the use of many film techniques.At last, the final act occurs and the audience are revealed the completely transformed Othello who reluctantly smothers his most loved Desdemona; Othello unaware of being manipulated and completely changed responds to Emilia in a manner that he is actually satisfied and proud of murdering his wife. “She’s like a liar gone to burning hell: twas I that killed her” Sensory imagery is used by Shakespeare to gain a greater level of connection with the audience in order to emphasise and share the idea of the unrecognisable Othello whom is blinded with jealousy.However, finally Othello is convinced of being manipulated by the unforgiving Iago and brings in the effort of attempting to redeem himself.

“Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees. ” The figurative language metaphor is used to emphasise his tragic remorse and how he genuinely always loved Desdemona. As Othello finally regains his consciousness back from being manipulated, he reaffirms his position as the eloquent Othello from Act 1 and refers to the ‘Arabian trees’ to remind the audience the stories nd adventures Othello had told which made Desdemona fall in love. The infamous ending of Othello reveals how Iago’s ability to manipulate Othello and transform him as a character creates great consequences leading to an inevitable tragic ending. Oliver Parker’s film and Shakespeare’s play both agree on the destructive power of manipulation and how it leads to the transformation of Othello’s character and his downfall; this is shown and reiterated through the use of several film and language techniques.


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