Blu-ray, DVD Release: Othello (1952/55)

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: May 16, 2017
Price: DVD $29.99, Blu-ray $29.99
Studio: Criterion

Gloriously cinematic despite being made on a tiny budget, Orson Welles’s (F for Fake) drama 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 his innocent wife, Desdemona, and Micheál MacLiammóir as the scheming Iago.

Shot over the course of three years in Morocco, Venice, Tuscany, and Rome 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.

Criterion’s Blu-ray editions of Othello include both the 1952 European version and the 1955 American version of the film. Here’s the entire breakdown of what’s on the discs:

* New, restored 4K digital transfers of two versions of the film, the 1952 European version and the 1955 U.S. version, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray
* Audio commentary featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich and Orson Welles scholar Myron Meisel
Return to Glennascaul, a 1953 short film made by MacLiammóir and actor Hilton Edwards during a hiatus from shooting Othello
* New interview with Welles biographer Simon Callow
* New interview with Welles scholar François Thomas on the differences between the two versions
* New interview with Ayanna Thompson, author of Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America
* Interview from 2014 with Welles scholar Joseph McBride
* An essay by film critic Geoffrey O’Brien

Buy or Rent Othello (1952/55)

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.