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(aka "Othello" aka "The Tragedy of Othello" )

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/welles.htm
USA / Italy / France / Morocco 1952

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.

***

From its opening shots, where the camera looks down on a solemn funeral procession, "Othello" exhibits Welles' flair for dramatic compositions. Instead of the tame eye-level visuals of many films of Shakespeare plays, where the camera is content to watch great actors saying great words, Welles approached "Othello" as a work intended at least equally for the eye.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert's review at the Chicago Sun-Times found HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 22nd, 1952 - Greece

Reviews                                                           More Reviews                                             DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Leevision - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Enrique B Chamorro for the DVD Review!

 

1) Leevision - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

  

Carlotta, in France, has a Region 'B' Blu-ray available:

Distribution

Leevision

Region 0 - NTSC

Criterion  - Spine # 870

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:32:57

European: 1:33:31.230

US/UK: 1:30:59.454

Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.30 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

European Version:

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,088,262,328 bytes

Feature:24,153,305,088 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.51 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

US/UK Version:

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Feature: 23,651,377,152 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.51 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Bitrate 1952 European Blu-ray:

 

Bitrate 1955 US/UK Blu-ray:

 

Audio English DD 2.0

European:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

US/UK:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, Korean, none English (SDH), none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Leevision

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Doc. - Restoring Othello 21:53 min. 4.86 mb/sec

DVD Release Date: 02/20/04
Plastic Keepcase

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

 

European Version:

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,088,262,328 bytes

Feature:24,153,305,088 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.51 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

US/UK Version:

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Feature: 23,651,377,152 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.51 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary from 1995 featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich and Orson Welles scholar Myron Meisel
Filming “Othello,” Welles’s last completed film, a 1979 essay-documentary (1:23:02)
Return to Glennascaul, a 1953 short film made by actors Micheál MacLiammóir and Hilton Edwards during a hiatus from shooting Othello (28:06)
Souvenirs d’“Othello,” a 1995 documentary about actor Suzanne Cloutier by François Girard (48:46)

• Simon Callow - interview 2017 (21:55)
New interview with Welles scholar François Thomas on the two versions (18;12)
New interview with Ayanna Thompson, author of Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America (21;12)
Interview from 2014 with scholar Joseph McBride (32:44)
PLUS: An essay by film critic Geoffrey O’Brien

 

Blu-ray Release Date: October 10th, 2017
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 20 + 21

 

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A'  Blu-ray - September 2017: The Criterion Blu-ray release of Welles' Othello (aka "The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice") was much-anticipated by fans of the director. It includes both "New, restored 4K digital transfers of two versions of the film, the 1952 European one and the 1955 U.S. and UK one" in separate transfer on the same first, of two, Blu-ray discs. The second BD disc has the majority of the extras. The, longer, European cut looks superior to the US/UK version in 1080P. The latter, shows a bit more information in the frame, but may have some minor digitization issues looking notably softer and with less grain than the 1952 cut. I suspect this strong difference was the reason the release date was delayed, and I trust Criterion did the best they could with the US/UK source. You can see the differences by toggling between the large, clickable, captures below. The European release, shown at Cannes does not have title credits - they were read at the screening instead. Bottom line is that this looks dramatically improved with the old sources that have been drifting around for years - we've included capture comparisons to the old 2004 SD that some were able to purchase.

The audio tracks have also been restored and now in liner PCM, obviously providing much better support for the music by Alberto Barberis and Angelo Francesco Lavagnino (The Savage Innocents.).  This production did not have a large budget but the dialogue is consistently clear with only a couple of exceptions and thee are optional English subtitles offered. The Criterion Blu-ray is Region 'A'-locked.

For the 1955 version there is the 1995 audio commentary featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich and Orson Welles scholar Myron Meisel taking turns exploring details of the production and anecdotes about Welles and his thoughts from Bogdanovich. I thought it worked well and I was keen to follow. On the second Blu-ray are the bulk of the supplements. Filming “Othello,” runs 1-hour 23-minutes and was Welles’s last completed film, a 1979 essay-documentary that dives into the production of Othello and includes extended conversations between Welles and actors Micheál MacLiammóir and Hilton Edwards. Return to Glennascaul, a 1953 1/2 hour film made by actors MacLiammóir and Edwards during a hiatus from shooting Othello. It has an introduction by Bogdanovich. There is an excellent new interview with Welles biographer Simon Callow that runs 22-minutes as he discusses the production of Othello, especially Welles's relationship with actors in the film. Souvenirs d’“Othello,” (Desdemona) a 1995 French-Canadian documentary about actor Suzanne Cloutier by François Girard - in runs over 3/4 of an hour. There is a new, 18-minute, interview with Welles scholar François Thomas about the two versions plus a new interview with Ayanna Thompson, author of Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America about the question of race in Othello. It runs over 20-minutes. Lastly is a Fiction Factory interview from 2014 with scholar Joseph McBride lasting over 1/2 an hour. The package has an essay by film critic Geoffrey O’Brien.

One of the Blu-ray releases of the year despite the, video, differences in the two versions. It is totally beneficial to have 1080P (4K restored) access to both 1952 and 1955 versions - both in uncompressed audio - and the massive amount of extras (a commentary and, second disc with 3 hours of video supplements). This is an essential... fans will be so pleased with owning this and finally watching Welles film in the best home theater presentation. Our highest recommendation!

***

ON THE DVD: The Korean R0 DVD uses the same data as the US Image R1 DVD. The same run time, bit rate graph, chapter stop locations and sound. It even has the same chapter menus and the same bonus documentary. The same text based filmorgraphy, only in Korean rather than English. Then why would you want the Korean DVD? It has ENGLISH SUBTITLES!

(Wait while I get up on my soapbox)
The audio has always been a problem with this version and was a major focus of the restoration, so subtitles are a huge benefit. Welles cut the play down to a mere 92 min, the 1995 Othello with Fishburne & Branagh runs 123 min and the BBC version with Anthony Hopkins and Bob Hoskins runs a full 208 min, so every word that Welles used is critical, subtitles help you pickup what you need. Subtitles assist in any Shakespearian adaptation, it could even be one of the biggest aids in making his plays accessible. If a text based info track was used, much like to supplemental tracks on the Star Trek Special Editions, then volumes of background information could be added to help make the plays easier to follow. Monty Python and the Holy Grail did the converse and used Shakespearean Subtitles from Henry IV Part II as a dry form of humor. The Image disc should have subtitles, a big oversight.
(Wait while I step down now, thanks)

The audio is as good as it's going to get. The music and sound effects were rerecorded and mixed in an effort to make it clearer. The picture is what it is, at times it can capture the image of Welles' vision, at times it rings with halos. I doubt it will be redone any time soon. The extras could have been an opportunity to shine, but again, it leaves you wanting more.

(Wait while I get up on my box again)
If Beatrice Welles-Smith could have negotiated with Criterion, than a whole world of supplements could have added greatly. The Criterion laserdisc had 36 chapter stops with the following; comm. by Peter Bogdanovich & Myron Meisel excerpts from 1979 doc. Filming Othello The short film Returning to Glennascaul starring Welles 3 excerpted interviews from the Italian doc. Rosabella comparisons of 4 versions Desdemon's death Welles' 1952, silent German 1922, Russian 1956, Italian opera 1986 with or without comm. by playwright Russ Lees. Information about the sidework Welles did to raise money for Othello The liner notes tied the chapter stops to the same location in the written play and added comments by Jonathan Rosenbaum. So much could have been added that is now almost impossible to get to.
(Please wait while I step down again)

Don't get me wrong, I an thrilled to have this film on DVD, I just want Moor.

 - Enrique B Chamorro

 


DVD Menus


 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray 2

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Leevision - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion (1952) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

2) Criterion (1955) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Leevision - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion (1952) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

2) Criterion (1955) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Leevision - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion (1952) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

2) Criterion (1955) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Leevision - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion (1952) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

2) Criterion (1955) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Leevision - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion (1952) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

2) Criterion (1955) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Leevision - Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion (1952) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

2) Criterion (1955) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures (European Version)

 

Box Covers

 

  

Carlotta, in France, has a Region 'B' Blu-ray available:

Distribution

Leevision

Region 0 - NTSC

Criterion  - Spine # 870

Region 'A' - Blu-ray


Associated Reading (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

This is Orson Welles
by Orson Welles, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Rosenbaum
Orson Welles on Shakespeare: The W.P.A. and Mercury Theatre Playscripts
by Orson Welles, Simon Callow, Richard France
Orson Welles: Interviews (Conversations with Filmmakers (Paperbacks))
by Orson Welles, Mark W. Estrin
The Trial
by Franz Kafka
Orson Welles : The Stories of His Life
by Peter Conrad
Rosebud : The Story of Orson Welles
by David Thomson
Encyclopedia of Orson Welles (Great Filmmakers)
by Chuck Berg, Tom Erskine, John C. Tibbetts, James M. Welsh, Thomas L. Erskine
Chimes at Midnight: Orson Welles, Director (Rutgers Films in Print)
by Bridget Gellert Lyons

 




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