How effectively does Parker translate Act 3 Scene 3 on to the Screen? Essay
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This is the first time I have read a Shakespeare play, however I have seen the film version of Romeo and Juliet. At first it was hard to understand, the language was difficult but it was a good story. Parker made the film to suit regular filmgoers, and I found it easier to understand. The plot was gripping gut the language was challenging.
The costume, the language and the photography all made it a good Shakespeare experience. As the plot of Othello is more relevant to today than Shakespeare’s time, it includes all the elements of modern day films, and is well presented by Parker.
I choose to assess how effectively Parker translates the original script of Act 3 Scene 3, the temptation scene. This is the pivotal scene in the play. At the beginning Othello declares his love for Desdemona, but by the end his mind is set on killing her. This scene also shows the power of Iago and the ability to manipulate all the others.
The ‘temptation scene’ is the longest and most important scene in the play. Iago, whose ingenuity, inventiveness, cunning, lack and hypocrisy are evident throughout, plays the dominant role in this scene. An analysis of the various crucial stages in Iagos assault on Othello’s peace of mind, and on the reputations of Desdemona and Cassio, will reveal the depth of Iagos evil genius. At the beginning of the scene Othello is happily married by the end he has decided to murder his wife and Cassio.
Iago immediately sets to work, using the slender evidence so far to hand against Cassio. He concentrates first on Cassio’s role as a go-between in Othello’s wooing of Desdemona, and allows Othello to recall the circumstances of Cassio’s departure from Desdemona, and his own reservations about it. Othello has not been favourably impressed by the furtive manner of Cassio’s departure, and is not helped by Desdemona’s insistent, repetitions, irritating pleading on Cassio’s behalf. Iago’s main strategy at this point is to throw out dark, mysterious hints of something that he pretends he does not want to bother Othello with. Iago succeeds in giving the impression that there are some disreputable truths behind his insinuations. Othello’s suspicions inevitably grow, as Iago warns him of the dangers of jealousy.
Iago tells Othello that Venetian women are notorious for infidelity to their husbands. He reminds Othello that Desdemona’s deception of her father in marrying him, and points the unnaturalness of her choice of Othello in preference to someone of her own race. Othello is now convinced of Iago’s honesty and knowledge of human nature that he searches for reasons for Desdemona’s infidelity.
The sight of Desdemona only causes confusion in Othello’s mind. She notices a distressing change in his attitude and behaviour, and, in trying to help him, drops her handkerchief, a gift from Othello, and a token to which he attaches enormous significance. Emila picks up the handkerchief and gives it to her husband. Iago decides to leave the handkerchief at Cassio’s lodgings. This is going to be Othello’s first sign of truth. Iago, of course, cannot offer any proof, but argues that strong circumstantial evidence ought to be enough to satisfy Othello. He mentions to pieces of manufactured testimony, Cassio’s dream and Cassio’s possession of Desdemona’s handkerchief.
Iago was played by Northern Ireland born actor Kenneth Branagh who is a famous Shakespearian actor and director. Irene Jacobs plays the part of Desdemona, who is a lesser-known Belgian actress. Lawrence Fishbourne is the first Black actor to play Othello on film. There are a number of foreign actors in this film, which gives a European appeal and creates the feeling of Italy or somewhere foreign; there is also a wide mixture of foreign accents.
Lawrence Fishbourne covers up his American accent very well. His vast array of colourful costumes, earrings, scars and shaven head all suggest his exotic character that has travelled the world. Iago on the other hand has only one costume throughout. This highlights his role as a servant, but even with all the wealth and riches of Othello and Desdemona, Iago is still able to wield his authority over them in to doing what he wants
Act 3 scene 3 is 478 lines long, which is long for Shakespeare. In the text the whole thing takes place in the citadel, while Parker uses all the techniques at his disposal to attract and maintain the viewers attention. Parker uses music, a variety of different lighting and camera angels to set the mood. Parker also uses flash back and dream sequences very effectively and has a vast variety of different locations throughout the scene.
The first scene has a sense of elegance and gracefulness with the 2 men going down the stairs to the courtyard and up the stairs to Desdemona. Although in this scene Iago throws his first blow, everything is good-natured; there is a feeling of friendliness and harmony.
The next scene is the pole fighting between Iago and Othello. Iago is the one who is put to the ground but everything is good-natured. It shows Othello has power.
After the pole fighting the scene changes again to the two men working down a narrow stairway washing their hands. Even at this point Othello’s costume has changed. This highlights his power.
The scene then changes to the dark, brown, dull armoury, which is full of guns and gunpowder. The bareness of the place, the guns, the cold bare metal and the ever-increasing absence of daylight adds to the ominous feeling of the scene. The camera changes and focuses a lot on the facial expression throughout this scene. A line is added from Act one into this scene, “… I will pour my pestilence in his ear…” Iagos plan is to pour poison into Othello’s ear. His is the first time that you can clearly see the doubt in Othello’s face. The music then changes to a very high pitched note, suggests something very ominous is about to happen, adds tension. But lightens again when Othello shows he is not going to give into Iagos insinuations, then deepens again to show Othello’s mood.
The next scene is up in the bedroom and is even darker, with only a very dim candle to light the room. Iago is dressing Othello for the banquet while Othello is daydreaming, he has suspicious thoughts. While Iago remains the servant, he still exercises power over Othello’s thoughts and feelings. As the scene gets even dimmer Othello begins to succumb to Iagos suggestions.
The next scene is the handkerchief scene, which is done in silence. Desdemona and Emila come in and find Othello sitting at the end of the bed sweating. Desdemona wipes his head with the handkerchief and accidentally drops it. When the two leave Emila lifts it. Parker use silence as a powerful symbol in the handkerchief scenes. The handkerchief that seems such an insignificant article proves to be very dangerous in the end.
The scene then changes to a bedroom scene with Iago and Emilia, which in contrast to other love scenes in the play, is very crude and vulgar. The room is very dark and small and has little furniture compared to Othello’s bedroom. This emphasizes their role as servants. As Emilia enters Iago turns his head away from her, but when she says she has the handkerchief that Othello gave Desdemona he is all over her, suggesting complete indifference and that he only wants her when she has something for her. At the end of the scene Iago says, “trifles light as air” and throws the handkerchief up into the air. The next time we see the handkerchief is in Cassio’s lodging where he leaves it in Bianca’s hand before he leaves. Iago had planted it there and Cassio had given it onto Bianca as a gift.
Parker then brings a scene in from act four where Othello quizzes Desdemona about the whereabouts of the handkerchief; this is to give more evidence. Othello is sure Desdemona is guilty and then when Desdemona ask Othello to give Cassio his job back this only enrages him further.
The scene then changes down to the beach. Parker makes the audience very aware that they are on an island and isolated. The ruggedness of the rocks and the waves and the pounding, shows that they are far from Venice. Iago mocks his master, “…nor poppy nor mandragora…” nothing will bring him back his piece of mind. The climax in his scene is the very dramatic attempted drowning of Iago, also the story where Iago complains of his sore tooth has a very damning affect on Othello. This scene does not appear in the original play by Shakespeare but is very effectively done by Parker to highlight the fact that Othello has totally fallen for Iago’s lies.
The next scene is up on the ramparts of the citadel; the feeling of stormy weather emphasizes the mix feelings in Othello’s mind about Desdemona’s distrust. Othello then gets down on both knees and makes a vow to the heavens, very dramatic, tension building. He then says, “Arise black vengeance, from the hollow hell.” Iago then gets down on his knees and they both swear brotherhood to each other in order to kill two people. Parker adds the slitting of the palms and the clasping of the hands, this increases the horror of what they are going to do. Iago then says, “I am your own forever.” There is a feel of dramatic Irony, where the audience is aware what is about to happen to Othello but the character does not.
The main techniques used by Parker are flash back and dream sequences, which allow us to see inside the mind of Othello, whereas Shakespeare used soliloquy. The flash back and dream scenes are done in silence and don’t last very long. They are done in slow motion and are accompanied by music. They are frequently of Desdemona and Cassio in bed or talking to each other. The lovemaking is done very discreetly and delicacy and are done behind a muslin curtain. They are hinted at rather than stated explicitly. There is a hint of red on the bed, which makes Othello think she is a whore.
Music is used effectively by Parker to create an ominous atmosphere and highlights a climax or turning point in the scene. The first time music was introduced was when Othello said, “It were not for your quiet nor high pitched string note.” The music then deepens to a bass note where Iago says, “Beware my lord of jealousy” and continues on this deep tone until Othello asks, “Thinkst thou make a life of jealousy.” The music then becomes more melodious and sweet, suggestion of will not fall prey to Iagos insinuations. At the line, “Get me some poison” the music deepens again.
Parker leaves out about half of the 478 lines and yet he doesn’t compromise the meaning of the play. Very many of Desdemona’s lines are omitted, more than anyone else, and yet with the use of flash back and dream sequences we are very aware of her presence throughout the play. Some of the scenes are rearranged, scene 4 into 3, make Othello’s death sentencing more convincing.
Parker does not compromise power and integrity of the play, he delivers a different perspective, which is more creative. There are difficulties with the language but with continued reading I found it a gripping story, and I found Parkers version accessible to modern filmgoers. Shakespeare’s play was limited, the language was used to keep the audiences attention but today film makers have different lighting, music, props and many other things, so this allowed parker to leave much of the language out.