Transformation Of Shakespeare's "Othello" To Tim Black Nelson's "O"

1504 words - 6 pages

The process of transformation used by Tim Blake Nelson in his conversion of Shakespeare's Othello into 'O', required him to modernise the universal themes that are prolific throughout Shakespearean literature and human life. These thematic elements that are ever present in human society include racism, jealousy and also appearance versus reality.Shakespeare's choice to set the play in Venice was fitting because at the time it was considered a place polluted with prostitution and corruption. Venice would be better suited to the audience of the play (during Elizabethan period) would find it more accessible to them if they were to see the situation unfold in a location not similar to their's. If Shakespeare were to set the play in London, his audience would not partake to the criticism and would decide not to understand.Nelson's choice of setting, a private Southern high school worked very well. This was due to the history of America's South and black slavery, and also because Odin was the only African American at the school, much like Othello being the only black male with social status in the play.Nelson contextualises the plot of Othello and then places it in a contempory high school in America's South. His choice of a high school basketball team trying to win the finals worked because the everyday person (in a western country) treats sport as a form of "war", which has been derived from the play's war with the Turks.Tim Blake Nelson in my opinion had an advantage in making the movie when he did. Even though Miramax decided to shelf this movie because of the Columbine massacre, I believe that this unfortunate event only made film more realistic and comprehendible to modern day audiences.Shakespeare expresses racism through mostly stereotypical comments made by a lot of the characters in the play. The stereotypes were harsh and the imagery quite degrading. Iago describes Othello's relationship with Desdemona as "an old ram tupping your white ewe" when he tries to convince Desdemona's father to break off the marriage. Shakespeare also uses vigorous imagery throughout Act 1 which juxtapositions the black and white relation of Othello and Desdemona.Nelson really could not have taken the same path that Shakespeare did because in the present time, people in general are extremely more tolerant of people with different colour and culture. Though through this film we learn that not "all men are created equal" and that there is a false sense of egalitarianism that exists even to this day.Nelson's approach the theme of racism was interesting. In reference to soundtrack most of the tracks were African American rap, and most certainly seemed that the distinct majority of other students at the school accepted Odin. Verbal racism was minimal, but many stereotypes of African American were present. These included; Odin's violent outbursts, history of substance abuse, pressing himself (almost raping) into Desi violently whilst making love. Odin's speech is also...

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