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Soviet Union, 1955 (MIFF 1957, Programme 6)

Director: Sergei Yutkevich

Sergei Youtkevitch has defined his interpreta¬tion of Othello's tragedy not primarily as one of love and jealousy but of misplaced trust. Othello's murderous act is committed in defence of trust and justice, out of the violation of his faith in man's noble and harmonious destiny. For many years Youtkevitch cherished the dream of bringing Othello to the screen and now the final result, meaningful and mature carries the weight of a subject profoundly felt and understood.

The first quality that strikes one in this film, which won the prize for direction at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, is the authority and confident ease with which it takes to the open air. Here is no calculated transference of a stage classic to the screen, but a total reconsideration of a subject from first to last in terms of cinema.

Before the credit titles appear we see Othello through the eyes of Desdemona as the hero of countless exploits, which have fired her romantic imagination. This is in striking contrast to Orson Welles' funeral cortege which precedes the credits. "He began with death, I began with life" Youtkevitch is re¬ported to have observed impartially at Cannes. Youlkevitch's groupings and remarkable visual sense together with Sovcolour of beautiful subtlety combines to make an intensely satisfying exposition of the play which perhaps ranks with the best of filmed Shakespeare.

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