MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -2 1/2

As the villainous Iago says, "Many events in the womb of time are yet to be delivered," you can be sure he is planning dark and dastardly deeds. OTHELLO, one of Shakespeare's most famous plays, stars Laurence Fishburne in the title role and Kenneth Branagh as the evil Iago. In the late 1500s, the invincible warrior, Othello, has led many battles for Italy, even though he is a Moor. As the film opens, Othello and the beautiful Venetian Desdemona (Irene Jacob) have secretly married. Iago, angry because Cassio (Nathaniel Parker) has been named Othello's second in command, seeks revenge against Othello and Cassio. Under a deceitful guise of being everyone's best friend, Iago methodically arranges the downfall of all who stand in his way. He begins by exposing Othello's and Desdemona's marriage to her outraged father. When Desdemona follows her new husband to Cypress, Iago hints to Othello she really loves Cassio. Though skilled as a leader of men, matters of the heart overwhelm Othello, which leads to tragedy. For those unfamiliar with Shakespeare, OTHELLO the film need not intimidate you. It's a mesmerizing, beautiful production.

However, Shakespeare may be tossing and turning in his grave. Perhaps to appeal to today's audiences, the filmmakers chose to make OTHELLO an erotic thriller. Some fairly explicit sex scenes, one with breast nudity, and extremely bloody, gory killings dominate the film. The passion between Desdemona and Othello has already been established by their glances, embraces and pure joy at being together. The bedroom scene could easily have been cut. And, though the original story is about deceit and evil, it conveys these elements without detailed descriptions of mortal wounds and hideous deaths. Sexually suggestive dialogue refers to sex, and once Iago jokingly grabs a friend in the crotch while close by a fully clothed couple is having intercourse. Othello's jealousy is characterized by his erotic fantasies of his wife with another man, leading to his compulsion to kill her. OTHELLO is rightfully rated R, thanks to gratuitous sex scenes and intense violence.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Columbia Pictures, 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several (6) times - Moderate

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: Many times - Moderate and severe (near death by choking, killings by stabbings and sword fighting; suffocation; skirmishes, slapping and rough treatment)

Sex: Few times (couple in wagon, fully clothed; explicit bedroom scene with breast nudity; couple in bedroom scene without nudity)

Nudity: Female breast nudity once; near nudity (women in low-cut dresses)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (passionate kissing and embracing; man jokingly grabs man's crotch; erotic sexual fantasies; references to intercourse)

Drugs: Soldiers drink, some drunkenness

Other: Themes of jealousy, deceit with tragic results

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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