"Speak of one that loved not wisely but too well."
This moving tragedy tells the story of Othello, a Moorish general, whose servant Iago deceives him into believing his wife, Desdemona, is unfaithful. In a jealous rage, he murders her - and then must face his own self-loathing when he realizes what he has done. In rendering the dramatic descent of a proud warrior from greatness to jealous insanity, Shakespeare produced some of the most eloquent passages ever written in the English language. This full-cast performance does justice to Shakespeare's words, featuring Frank Silvera as Othello, Alan Bates as Cassio, Cyril Cusack as Iago, and Anna Massey as Desdemona.
More than a retelling, this aptly termed "reconceptualization" provocatively modernizes Shakespeare's play. As in the original, the middle-aged general Othello the ``moor'' and young European noblewoman Desdemona fall in love and marry secretly. But Lester (To Be a Slave; John Henry) transplants the action from Venice and Cyprus to Elizabethan England and turns Iago and Emily into Africans like Othello, so that the three of them share a distinctly non-European point of view. Iago's envy of Othello and ability to whip him into a jealous rage at Desdemona are thus cast in a new light, though the tragic outcome remains the same. While the ending feels abrupt, Lester's novel succeeds in holding up a mirror to contemporary society. Phrases and passages directly based on Shakespeare's language are printed in a different typeface, a device that may distract the reader but eases comparisons with the original work. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)