Internet Shakespeare Editions

Shakespeare in Performance: Film

Othello (1981, Jonathan Miller)

Release LocationsGB
DirectorJonathan Miller
MediumColor video
Length3 hrs, 30 mins
Audiencecollege and university
general public
Play ConnectionsOthello (teleplay)
SeriesThe Shakespeare Plays


The most surprising feature of this Othello is the downgrading of Othello's blackness in favor of portraying the Moor as a light-skinned Arab. The director, Jonathan Miller, felt that over concern with the complexion of the Venetian general had often obscured the play's deeper meanings. As Miller would have it, fundamentally the play is about jealousy, a condition not confined to members of the black community. Even so, Othello's blackness is a stage tradition that dies hard, especially in light of the classic performances by such actors as Paul Robeson and James Earl Jones. For the settings, Miller and his designer, Colin Lowrey, emulated the Renaissance paintings of De La Tour and Tintoretto, while a palace in Urbino inspired the antechamber of the Cyprian palace in which so much of the action transpires

Description from Shakespeare on Screen : an International Filmography and Videography by Kenneth S. Rothwell and Annabelle Henkin Melzer. ©1990 Kenneth S. Rothwell. Cited by permission. — Added 2008-11-14

Cast Overview

DukeJohn Barron
BrabantioGeoffrey Chater
Second SenatorHoward Goorney
First SenatorSeymour Green
GratianoAlexander Davion
LodovicoJoseph O'Conor
OthelloAnthony Hopkins
CassioDavid Yelland
IagoBob Hoskins
RoderigoAnthony Pedley
MontanoTony Steedman
DesdemonaPenelope Wilton
EmiliaRosemary Leach
BiancaWendy Morgan
OfficerPeter Walmsley
First GentlemanMax Harvey
Second GentlemanTerence McGinity
Third GentlemanNigel Nobes

Production Team and Crew Overview

DirectorJonathan Miller
ProducerJonathan Miller
ComposerStephen Oliver
CostumesRay Hughes
LightingJohn Treays
ProductionColin Lowrey

Production information courtesy of: Kenneth Rothwell