This was the official website for the 2001 teen film, O.
Content is from the site's 2001 archived pages as well as from other outside review sources.

 

Synopsis

Moving the classic tale of "Othello" onto the basketball courts of a high school, the story focuses on a young black man named Odin (Mekhi Phifer) who is convinced by a conniving best friend, Hugo (Josh Hartnett) that his girlfriend (Julia Stiles) is cheating on him. Of course, what Odin doesn't know is that Hugo is in fact motivated by his own jealousy of Odin's good fortune. It's a sticky situation in classic Shakespearean tradition.

Genre:  Documentary, Drama 
Running Time:  91 min. 
Release Date: August 31, 2001 

Director: Tim Blake Nelson
Studio: Lions Gate Films
Producer(s): Daniel Fried, Eric Gitter, Anthony Rhulen
Screenplay: Brad Kaaya

 

A contemporary retelling of Othello, Shakespeare's timeless tale of treachery and jealousy, O will introduce a new audience to the genius of William Shakespeare and some of his most intriguing and tragic characters. Set in an elite private school located deep in the new American South, Mekhi Phifer portrays NBA hopeful Odin James, the only black student at the school. Playing the point guard position, Odin is a basketball scout's dream, possessing the talent and poise to go strait from high school to the pros. Odin not only enjoys widespread popularity with the students, he is dating Desi Brable (Julia Stiles), the beautiful daughter of the Dean of Palmetto Grove Academy (John Heard). The envy of all their friends, Odin and Desi have found what many others lack- a love that is deep, honest, and pure.



Odin's best friend, Hugo Goulding (Josh Hartnett), drawn closely from Shakespeare's nefarious Iago, is a starting forward on the basketball team, and the son of Coach Duke Goulding (Martin Sheen). Hugo has been asked by his father to look out for Odin because of the particular pressures facing him at Palmetto Grove. Yet Hugo is bitterly envious of Odin and the attention Odin receives from the coach and everyone else at school. An introspective and somewhat mysterious young man, Hugo seeks to manipulate those around him to his own private ends.

Placed by his own father in the role of Odin confidante, Hugo is, in reality, seeking to destroy the very person he pretends to befriend. Striking at the very core of Odin's soul, Hugo convinces him that Desi is having an affair with another member of the basketball team, Michael Casio (Andrew Keegan).

Meanwhile, Hugo's rich roommate Roger Rodriguez (Elden Henson), will do anything to be popular. Desperately in love with Desi, Roger becomes another pawn in Hugo's dark scheme. Even Hugo's girlfriend Emily (Rain Phoenix), succumbs to his machinations, playing a part in her roommate Desi's downfall.



As the basketball season comes to a dramatic finish, conflict among the six friends escalates into irrevocable tragedy when Hugo executes a plan prompting Odin to throw away all that he cares about most- the woman he loves, his bright future, his very soul.

 



 

PRODUCTION

- The idea of a contemporary retelling of Othello set in the arena of competitive high-school basketball was that of screenwriter Brad Kaaya. The only black male in an all white high school, Kaaya identified with the heroic figure of Othello for many reasons. Like many teenagers, Brad Kaaya loved to play basketball- and chose to set the conflict of O on a basketball court rather than a battlefield. The male characters in O are warriors on the court, and Odin is the fiercest and most heroic of them all. In a school and a town where basketball is paramount, Odin James is king. This modern adaptation widens its focus to examine the complex lives of a group of teenage basketball stars and their entourage, as well as issues of interracial dating, substance abuse (in particular steroids and cocaine) and school violence.

After developing the screenplay at the Sundance Institute Writers Lab, Kaaya sent the script to director Tim Blake Nelson, who received it while acting on location in Australia in Terrence Malick's THE THIN RED LINE. An Obie Award-winning playwright and director of the film EYE OF GOD, Nelson was initially not interested in yet another teenage adaptation of Shakespeare's work. "I thought there were probably too many teenage Shakespeare adaptations floating on the movie screens, so I resisted even reading the script," says Nelson. "But once I read it, it really stuck with me." Nelson felt Kaaya had modernized Shakespeare's play beautifully, "while infusing it with every bit of passion and human frailty that exists in the original." He agreed to direct.

Nelson and Kaaya worked for a solid year revising the original screenplay. They sent off the script to producers Eric Gitter and Dan Fried, who immediately fell in love with the script. "We're both fans of teen genre films, but we felt that the audience had matured a bit," says Fried. "So many teen films are horror films and comedies, a little bit exploitative but fun. We thought it was time to stop pandering to that audience and give them a film that had some meat on the bone, some real substance."

After reading the script, the producers watched Nelson's earlier film EYE OF GOD and were "blown away by it," says Gitter. "We flew to New York to meet Tim, and had this terrific Italian dinner," he adds. "We knew instantly that this was a project for us after reading the script and meeting with Tim. It was like magic."

The director and producers began a search for the perfect location for the film. They came close to filming in Toronto for economic reasons, but the decision was made to film entirely on location in Charleston, South Carolina, where history and race relations have a unique resonance. This tragic story of a contemporary interracial couple is set against the backdrop of ante-bellum architecture and old oak trees draped with Spanish moss.

"We had collected photographs from film commissions from two dozen cities in the U.S. and Canada," says producer Eric Gitter. "Then we narrowed it down to two- Toronto and Charleston." Fried adds: "Toronto economically the most reasonable place to shoot, but in the middle of the night, after we had already made the decision and told everybody we were going there, I woke up in a sweat and called Eric and said, 'I just don't think we can go to Toronto.' In order to make a more beautiful film, we had to come here. It's just an incredible place."

"Charleston gives the story a specific and pointed setting," says Tim Blake Nelson. "Place Odin on a distinctly ante-bellum campus, in a crisp school uniform, among the similarly dressed scions of former slave-owning families, and the rhetorical value is immeasurable."

The production team then put together an ensemble cast that includes some of Hollywood's finest young actors. Director Tim Blake Nelson refers to the cast as an "astonishing, talented group of good people who possess a level of poise and professionalism well beyond their years." Each and every actor was chosen by Nelson as part of a carefully crafted ensemble. Nelson put the actors through a rigorous audition process, with the exception of Mekhi Phifer, who he cast in the role of Odin. "I met Mekhi for lunch, spent an hour and a half with him. I watched SOUL FOOD. There was just no doubt, no doubt. He was the person."

Josh Hartnett was cast as Hugo, a role based on Iago, one of Shakespeare's most fascinating and villanous characters. "Josh is James Dean," says producer Fried. "Walks like a movie star, talks like a movie star- he's just Warren Beatty, he's Steve McQueen. And he brings so much to this role. He is able to pull off a diabolical character and still make him seem charming."

For Desi, Nelson cast Julia Stiles, who is no stranger to the work of Shakespeare, having appeared in TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU and HAMLET. "She's such a bright, composed, elegant human being," he says.

Martin Sheen was cast in the role of Coach Duke Goulding, the man who wields power at the school because of the importance of sports. "There's a whole history with Martin Sheen and Tim Nelson that is so cool," says Gitter. "Tim was in Terrence Malick's THE THIN RED LINE, and Martin had starred in Malick's BADLANDS. It was a long shot for us to get Martin, but I think he and Terry Malick had a soulful conversation about Tim and his directing abilities and Martin was given a lot of confidence in Tim."

"One of the things about having Martin here, above and beyond the fact that he's an incredible actor, is that he has such an effect on everybody here," adds Fried. "These young actors get to see a pro like him work, and he's got more energy than any human I think I've ever come into contact with. He's always got a smile on his face, he's always got time for everybody." The actors, in turn, are full of praise for their director. According to Julia Stiles, "Tim studied acting a Julliard, and he's an actor so it's really great to work with him as a director. He knows what actors need to make a scene work. He knows how to talk to you so that you don't feel confined at all, you don't feel inhibited. So it's a really open place for you to flourish."

"We have a director who loves the material, and loves the actors and that makes it a thousand times more interesting to come to work," says Hartnett. "It's like you're working in an auto factory, you work for Chrysler and you're putting bolts on a wheel and right next to you is Lee Iacocca. Tim understands what the work is, so it's not hollow at all."

Nelson took great care to explain the significance of setting Othello in a modern-day high school by examining the contemporary themes which draw the audience into the story- guns in high school, interracial relationships, teen sex, racism, the parent-child relationship. He felt these themes must be seen exclusively in the context of O's main theme: the relentless efforts of one boy (Hugo) to tear down the life of someone he envies.

"The sort of violence and level of passion that the characters in Othello experience leads finally to murder and self-destruction," says Nelson. "But these problems are faced today by teenagers. There are high-school shootings. They don't just happen in urban areas. We wanted to make a film that's true and coherent with what's going on in our society." "Tim showed us some news footage from shootings that had taken place in high schools," says Elden Henson, who plays Roger, Hugo's rich foil. "In this story, there is murder, and it is going on with the youth of today, which is pretty scary. So I think it needs to be shown, but in this script it's not glorified, it's sad, and I hope people will walk away from it thinking twice before going that route." Nelson's aim was "to make the violence of the movie very jarring and realistic, and not at all glorified like the way you see violence in horror movies and things like that," says Julia Stiles. Ultimately, Nelson believes that " the film is startlingly real, and, in the end, devastating."

The basketball sequences in the film function as much more than just exciting sports events. Kaaya and Nelson use these scenes to explore much about the characters and their interrelationships. "In general, the basketball court should be the place where Odin, Hugo, and Michael are in most command of their bodies and their world," says Nelson. "These are boys with drive, stamina, and competitiveness of men."

"These basketball scenes are almost like war," says Phifer, " and this town is a town that is totally about the basketball team and in this school the coach almost has more power than the dean because he has this great basketball team. I think a lot of people are into sports and are going to be able to relate to that."

To ensure the authenticity and intensity of the basketball scenes, a grueling two-week basketball camp was held for the actors before principal photography began. These morning workouts were coached by Dwayne Grace, a former legendary player for the College of Charleston.

"We went through three-hour training sessions every day for two weeks to get the guys mentally prepared for this type of role," says Grace. "When you have a basketball team and you're teaching them how to play and run your plays, it's so different from choreography. Even though the actor's don't make all their shots, I need them to be in the same place every time. And unity is a major factor in any team. We wanted to be treated the same, everybody to work just as hard as the next guy. So we had to treat the main actors the same as the extras."

Nelson felt it was extremely important for his ensemble to go back to Shakespeare and explore the original roles. "I trained as an actor, and for the lack of a better way of putting it, if you can do the classics, particularly Shakespeare, you can do anything," he says. "To come together around any Shakespeare text as a company, and to work on it together and apply some of the rules which one learns as an actor, is enormously valuable. This author was an actor who wrote for actors." Each afternoon the cast rehearsed Othello, with each actor playing the respective part from which their own character was derived. They all feel these rehearsals were invaluable to their individual and collective performances in O.

"Because of the intensity of the way Shakespeare wrote dialogue, there is so much added emotion," says Rain Phoenix. "Having rehearsed from the original added so much depth to the characters."

Once on location, the actors bonded together, living in a dorm-like setting which added to the reality of the shoot. Julia Stiles comments: "It's great that we're in South Carolina because we were taken out of our home environments and forced to spend time with one another. We've gotten to know each other better and feel more comfortable working together." Since the characters are friends who live together in a boarding school, the way the actors bonded off-set is very important for the texture of the story.

As Mekhi Phifer puts it: "There is a lot of camaraderie on this set. You know, nobody just leaves after they get their close-up. We all stay and stick it out for each other. And I think that's one thing that's going to come across on the screen very well- we're all in sync with each other, and it's a great feeling."

The current popularity of films based on Shakespeare's play speaks to the fundamental brilliance and timeless quality of these stories. "A lot of people are intimidated by the language of the work, but underneath it there are some really powerful stories and great characters which teenagers can relate to themselves," says Stiles. "Shakespeare also writes really great parts for women, which is ironic because they didn't even have female actors then." Josh Hartnett adds: "Shakespeare wrote such great human stories, about love, about jealousy, about the basest emotions possible, and that's interesting and always will be."

 



 

REVIEWS

 

 The reason why modernized versions of Shakespearean plays are so successful is because they take the brilliant works of Shakespeare and interpret their meanings and plots for modern audiences to enjoy. The sophisticated and eloquent writing structure used by Shakespeare in his 

plays often prevents the general populace from understanding the underlying imagery and significance of symbols, characters and actions in his plays. Only those who take the often lengthy effort to grasp and understand these themes, motives and symbols can appreciate Shakespeare’s brilliance to the fullest extent. However this usually only applies to those specifically studying Shakespearean text or those with extensive backgrounds in English literature. By modernizing these plays and presenting them to society, we can connect with the problems and struggles of the characters in the Elizabethan and Jacobean era. Themes such as betrayal, infidelity, love, passion, romance, death and manipulation are all problems that even today’s world is faced with. Therefore these modernized versions are often very applicable and relatable to our lives when the setting and cultural restraints of the Renaissances era is removed. Modernized renditions allow many of us to understand the marvellously complex writings of the greatest English playwright in history without the tedious and arduous process of interpreting them ourselves.

The movie “O” was somewhat accurate to the play, Othello, in which it is based upon. The characters’ ethnicities are all correct; the character portraying Othello is indeed black and surrounded by a cast of all Caucasian students where he struggles with racist undertones. All the characters are also present, however different ages (mostly teenagers) and have different names, but are still easy to distinguish which Shakespearean characters that they allude to: Odin- Othello, Hugo- Iago, Desi- Desdemona, Michael- Michael Cassio, Emily- Emilia, Roger- Roderigo, Coach Duke Goulding- Duke of Venice, Dean Bob Brable- Brabantio, and Brandy- Bianca. As oppose to being set in Venice/ Cyprus, the movie transpires at a boarding school and the Turkish war is modernized into basketball. As in the text, Odin is the leader of the school basketball team with Hugo and Michael following him. Once again similar to the text, Odin overlooks Hugo for a position he believes that he rightfully deserves, MVP, which he shares with Michael. The drama surrounding Odin’s relationship with Desi being exposed by Hugo and Roger to her powerful father, Dean Bob Brable, is also true to the original storyline and the resulting discourse is also accurate. Roger’s secret love for Desi, Emilia’s rejection by Hugo and attachment to Desi, and Hugo’s secret plan for revenge are all present and transpire along similar means to the text. The use of a symbolic scarf in lieu of a handkerchief shows the adaption to modern context as well as Cassio’s discharge from the team at a house party, and the carjacking of Michael by Roger and Hugo. Like Othello, Odin is indeed deceived by Hugo and pinned against Desi and Michael through his tragic flaw of gullibly; however he is given an addition vice of being addicted to cocaine which he goes into remission over when Hugo convinces him that Desi is cheating on him with Michael, which perhaps refers to Othello’s epilepsy. The events leading up to and during the plot are modernized but also very accurate to the timeline of the original play. Odin does smother Desi, and Roger and Hugo’s attempt to kill Michael does result in failure and Roger wounding Michael and Hugo killing Roger. In addition, like in the play, it is Emily who exposes Hugo for the villain that he really is and he does kill her out of rage. Odin also takes his life as in the play, after revealing his enlightenment on the power of persuasion and manipulation; Hugo is captured at the end of the play. The one issue I had with the modernization of the storyline was with the introduction of 2 background characters - Jona, a street musician, and Fife, a businesswoman running a local service cleaning carpets in NYC. Both of these characters seemed forced, especially the carpet cleaner, who seemed out of place in every scene she appeared in. Although I get the analogy and purpose of using local merchants as in the original play, a street musician who never carried an instrument, and a woman managing a rug cleaning service in far away New York City both seemed a huge stretch.

 

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*** 1/2 Roger Ebert
August 31, 2001

Odin James (whose initials, ''O.J.,'' are surely not a coincidence) is also, like Othello, too easily made jealous--it is his fatal flaw. Desi (Julia Stiles) loves him and is faithful to him, but he cannot bring himself to trust her, and that is his downfall. His supposed friend Hugo (Josh Hartnett) plants the seeds of doubt, suggesting Desi is secretly sleeping with another student, Michael (Andrew Keegan). And there is an antique scarf, which Odin gives to Desi and which seems to become evidence of the cheating.

Again, all from Shakespeare, although the movie creates Hugo's (Iago's) motivation. Hugo's father is the basketball coach (Martin Sheen), but dinnertime at their house is a grim and silent affair, and when the coach says of Odin ''I love him like my own son,'' look for Hugo's reaction shot. It is sometimes forgotten that Iago doesn't want Desdemona for himself. He simply uses her as a way to bring about Othello's downfall, correctly observing that jealousy triggers his enemy's weakness. It is Roderigo who was Desdemona's former lover (here presented as Roger Rodriguez, and played by Elden Henson as Hugo's gullible accomplice in treachery).

There have been and will be many modern retreads of Shakespeare. "O'' is close in spirit to Baz Luhrmann's teen-gang version of ''William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet.'' It isn't a line-by-line update but an attempt to reproduce the passion of the original play, and for younger viewers new to Shakespeare, it would only enhance a reading of the real thing. The film's misfortune, however, is that it was being made at the time of the Columbine tragedy, and was immediately deemed unreleasable by Miramax, which shelved it for two years; Lions Gate is now the distribution company.

We have a peculiar inability in our country to understand the contexts of things; when it comes to art, we interpret troublesome works in the most literal and simple-minded way. In the aftermath of Columbine, Washington legislators called on Hollywood to police itself, and rumbled about possible national censorship. Miramax caved in by suppressing this film. To suggest that ''O'' was part of the solution and not part of the problem would have required a sophistication that our public officials either lack, or are afraid to reveal, for fear of offending the bottom-feeders among their constituents.

So now here is ''O,'' a good film for most of the way, and then a powerful film at the end, when, in the traditional Shakespearean manner, all of the plot threads come together, the victims are killed, the survivors mourn, and life goes on. It is clearly established that Hugo is a psychopath, and that his allies are victims of that high school disease that encourages the unpopular to do anything in order to be accepted. Those who think this film will inspire events like Columbine should ask themselves how often audiences want to be like the despised villain.

Mekhi Phifer makes a strong, tortured Odin, and delivers a final speech, which in its heartbreaking anguish, inspires our pity much as Othello's does. Josh Hartnett showed here, years before ''Pearl Harbor,'' that he is capable of subtleties and complexities that epic did not dream of. Julia Stiles, who is developing into one of the best young actresses, adds this modern Desdemona to her modern Ophelia in ''Hamlet'' (2000), and reminds us, too, of her interracial romance in ''Save the Last Dance.'' True, some of the plot threads seem unlikely. Is it that easy to overhear and completely misunderstand crucial conversations? How much more use can a scarf be put to? But those are problems in Shakespeare, too--or perhaps simply plot mechanisms that allow the characters to arrive at their tragic destinations. And then there's the unexpected additional level, the suggestion that high school sports have become like a kind of warfare. What is insane in most American high schools is that sports are considered more important than study, generating heroism and resentment too powerful for most kids to cope with, and inspiring in their bitter backwash the kind of alienation we saw at Columbine.

 



 

2007 Rotten Tomato Audience Reviews

Private U *** ½
May 27, 2007
it was a good movie for being a modern tale of shakespares Othello

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BookNut34 Rachel B ***½
May 26, 2007
I have a limited perspective on judging this as a purely teen film because of its Shakespearean roots. As a remake of the classic "Othello," I thought it was great. Below is my analysis that I wrote for AP Lit.

?O? and Othello: Comparison Analysis
Modern film adaptations of Shakespearean dramas, especially films aimed at a younger audience, have been common in 1990s and early 2000s. They include productions like 10 Things I Hate About You, The Lion King, She?s the Man, Hamlet, and Romeo + Juliet, inspired by Shakespeare?s The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet, respectively, and all of varying degrees of faithfulness to Shakespeare?s work. One of these adaptations is O, a teen tragedy set at an American prep school in the South. O parallels Othello by William Shakespeare, following the fall of a great leader by deceit and jealousy, aroused by his seemingly loyal and honest friend, and expounding on themes of loyalty, humanity, and belonging, and evil.

Like most elements of O, the characters of O are very similar to Othello?s. Iago, Othello, and Desdemona are ?Hugo,? ?O,? and ?Desi,? respectively, and mostly share the same temperaments, flaws and beliefs as their Shakespearean counterparts. However, there are a few differences. Desi and Desdemona have very different views concerning the boundaries of sexual relations?Desi is willing and assertive in having premarital sex, planning a weekend outing at a seedy hotel for her and O. This could be a translation choice on the part of the filmmakers to simulate a marriage relationship between teenagers (in-keeping with the exchange of rings and tokens that O and Desi make), but it also puts Desi?s character at odds with Desdemona?s, which is problematic considering the amount of lines and emphasis Shakespeare gives to Desdemona?s chastity. Even more difficult is Hugo, Iago?s equivalent. Hugo offers two short voice-overs at the beginning and end of O, discussing his wish to fly like a hawk, giving perhaps too much insight into his character to be Iago?s high school equal. While Iago?s motivation must be subtly extracted from his web of lies over the course of Othello, Hugo?s motivation is made much clearer and simpler through his voice-over monologues; Hugo is envious of O?s ability to succeed in situations that Hugo can?t overcome, O?s popularity and the affection that Hugo?s father has for O. Hugo?s father, ?Coach Duke Goulding,? is probably the most incongruent character. Superficially, he seems to parallel the Duke from Othello, stepping in to try and solve the matter between Desi, Dean Brable (Desi?s father), and O. However, his power and influence over the characters greatly exceeds that of the Duke?s. Coach Goulding becomes representative of the power, admiration and respect that Hugo deeply desires. While Iago has little to no interest in the Duke, Hugo is obsessed with having his father?s love and approval that was harshly given to O because of O?s basketball talents. Iago?s motivation is invisible, but Hugo?s is massively personified by Coach Goulding, creating more pathos in his character than is ever given to Iago. Most of the more minor characters, Emilia and ?Emily,? Roderigo and ?Roger,? Cassio and ?Michael,? and Bianca and ?Brenda? are very well adapted to the story of O and create a believable yet faithful recreation of Othello.

Broader concepts of Othello are skillfully and insightfully adapted to O, giving them new meaning for a modern era. Shakespeare?s version of the story, taken from Cinthio?s Hecatommithi, is an evolution of Cinthio?s xenophobic ethics. Cinthio?s ?Moor? has little of Othello?s depth. While Othello is not necessarily a morality piece or Shakespeare?s soapbox for racial equality, the character of Othello is undeniably admirable and all the more tragic because of his strong moral fiber, reason and capacity to love, a far cry from Elizabethan African or Arab stereotypes. Othello?s relationship with Desdemona is perhaps the most serious and poignant love relationship that Shakespeare ever wrote for theater, having no more discrepancy in their interracial relationship than would be in a traditional one. When Lodovico and Gratiano at Cyprus see the bodies on the bed at the close of Othello, having only witnessed Othello?s brutality toward Desdemona and not his love, there is a sense of prejudice and unjust incompletion. Othello insists to them, and to the audience, that they should ?Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate/ Nor set down aught in malice? (V ii). Similarly, O is an evolution of Othello?s themes of prejudice; instead of race, the issue of teen violence is tackled. O was filmed in 1998 and ready for release a year later, but Miramax Pictures held back from releasing it due to its topical controversy of teen violence, especially sensitive during the Columbine High School high school shooting . It wasn?t until 2001 that O was released by Lions Gate Film (?O (film)?). While O?s parting words are racially charged, his message is inverse to Othello?s: ?I ain't no different than none of ya'll. My mom's ain't no crack head, I wasn't no gang banger, it wasn't some hood rat drug dealer that trip me up. It was this white prep school motha fucka standing right there. You tell them where I'm from ta make me do this? (?Memorable Quotes?). Othello wishes the Venetians to keep his story simple, but O wants all the details explained after he is dead. Likewise, a crime committed by a black man against a white man has the extra suspicion of a hate crime than a simple robbery, while teen violence is often simplified to a fight over a girl, gang violence or downplayed in psychological importance. The themes of race and violence, while altered in O, are nonetheless engaging and relevant.

However, a theme that may prove problematic in a modern setting is Shakespeare?s treatment of the Turks in Othello. While Shakespeare has a message of racial harmony, his writing does not reflect a tolerance for religious equality. Although possibly relevant and extremely topical, portraying O as a converted Christian doesn?t quite fit in with the rest of the film?s themes; Othello fights in wars for the Venetians for the Christian cause, but O plays basketball for no greater cause than the school?s reputation or his own gain (a scout speaks to Coach Goulding about O playing for the state university); nor do the characters seem to care about Christian values so much as winning basketball games. Instead, Othello?s ?slavery? and ?redemption thence? (I iii) is translated to O?s drug addiction recovery (?I don?t use that stuff no more?). This adaptation is clever in not only does it avoid a religious conflict, but it provides a more believable trigger to O?s relapse and breakdown toward the end of the film, similar to Othello?s seizures. O is suitably adapted to modern audiences with drug references in place of Shakespeare?s Turks.

At the heart of both Othello and O is the language used. Shakespeare pointedly makes references to the importance of words in Othello, and O is not different. Before O becomes the story that is recognizable to Shakespeare readers, Hugo?s main tactic on the basketball court is to be a ?decoy??emphasizing his fraudulent appearance. Once the story progresses, the script of O so closely follows Othello, it would not be unlike a popularized parallel text of the original drama, which may be seen as a zealous attempt at preservation or a lack of original interpretation. A major difference between the two works is that, as previously mentioned, O begins and ends with Hugo?s voice-over soliloquies that express Hugo?s metaphorical wish to be like a hawk. The soliloquies aid the piece because they provide fast and easy insight into Hugo?s character and connect cleanly with the plot, perhaps making the psychology more accessible to a modern audience. However, they detract from an artistic subtly in O that is so beautiful in Othello. Even though Hugo declares ?I did what I did, and that's all you need to know. From here on out I say nothing? (?Memorable Quotes?), the second soliloquy breaks that silence which is held by Iago despite threats of torture: ?What you know, you know./ From this time forth I will never speak word.? (V ii). The choice of language is pertinent in conveying the themes of both O and Othello.

While adapting a Shakespearean drama to a modern setting, making it entertaining and accessible to a contemporary audience, providing a creative interpretation and remaining faithful to the original plot is not simple, O?s rendering of Othello makes it seem that way, connecting characters, plot elements and themes across a four-hundred year time span. O embodies the tragic flaw of Othello and his fall is no less heart-breaking?O demonstrates the human weaknesses that are significant in any culture, time period and place.

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Candy H *****
May 21, 2007
I liked the story. Turned into a modern tale of Shakespeares "Othello", very dramatic. Mekhi Phifer is blazin'

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Keoni666 Keoni R ***½
May 21, 2007
i watched this the ohter night on tv but only caught the end so i ended up goin out n buyin it today ..... but from what i saw of it ... tis a good movie ! Wasnt too keen on Josh Hartnett in this one tho !

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yazmin19819 Yazmin M ****
May 20, 2007
Interesting film. Gud storyline keeps u guessing wat is gonna happen.Alot of twists in the film.Sad ending.

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Cyriac Abby P  ***½
May 19, 2007
What more can i say. Shakespear.

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 Super Reviewer
Chani L ***½
May 19, 2007
I haven't seen nor read Othello in any form so I can't say how good of an adaption from Shakespeares original this was. However, it was a decent story in its own right with some good performances.

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**** Róisín F May 19, 2007
i liked it, but it really showed how evil some can be
TheBeautifulGameFootball

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*****  Monifa B May 16, 2007
Absolutely fantastic!!! I love the way the redid Shakespeare Orthelo in a modern version and relate war to basketball!!! Genius!

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**** Heather P
May 13, 2007
Great movie with a powerful ending.

 

 

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