Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Othello CSI

·      Produced by Masterpiece Theater
·      First shown in 2002 on PBS
·      Set during Tony Blair’s administration
o   Had a government highly concerned with its own image
·      Screenplay by Andrew Davies
o   Changes the setting to New Scotland Yard in 1990s London
o   Originally wanted to modernize the Tempest, was told he must chose a tragedy, went to get a drink, had the idea to make Othello Police Commissioner

·      Othello, by William Shakespeare
o   Othello is a Moor married to Desdemona
o   Othello promotes Cassio instead of Iago, prompting Iago’s rage
o   Iago takes Desdemona’s handkerchief and plants it among Cassio’s belongings to convince Othello his wife is not loyal
o   Othello convinces Roderigo to attack Cassio
o   Othello smothers Desdemona
o   Othello finds out about Iago’s involvement and hurts but doesn’t kill him
o   Iago and Othello are arrested
o   Othello commits suicide
o   Cassio is ordered to punish Iago
·      The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, a documentary
o   a black teenager was murdered by racist thugs in 1993
o   the original investigation was bungled
o   nobody was successfully prosecuted
o   the police were deemed institutionally racist
o   Ever since then the police have been making huge efforts to clean up their image, but there hasn’t been an increase in the number of black and Asian-origin policemen being promoted into high positions
·      Richard III, a movie version by Laurence Olivier
o   Lets the villain, Urquhart, talk directly to the audience
o   Inspires Davies to do the same with Jago

Othello –
·      simplified and characters changed
o   Othello is a black police officer married to Dessie
o   Prime Minister promotes Othello instead of Jago, prompting Jago’s rage
o   Othello gives Jago his bathrobe to test for Cass’s DNA
o   Othello attacks Cass
o   Jago tells Othello that Cass’s DNA is on the bathrobe
o   Othello smothers Dessie
o   Othello finds out about Jago’s involvement and tells him to leave
o   Othello commits suicide
o   Iago is promoted to Othello’s position
·      Dessie falls in love with Othello after interviewing him, hearing his story
·      Othello’s bathrobe is the same as Desdemona’s handkerchief, but Dessie gives Othello the bathrobe
·      Othello does not overlook Jago, but he steals a job that Jago badly wants
·      Roderigo and Brabantio don’t exist or aren’t present onstage
·      Jago tells Cass that Dessie and Othello aren’t in love, that they have a stage marriage (Cass then flirts with Dessie and says he fancies her)
·      Lulu (Emilia) suspects Jago, but never speaks up
·      Othello smothers Dessie almost killing her, before he kills her entirely
·      Jago gets away without anyone realizing his involvement

Stephen Lawrence –
·      made older and more innocent
o   The Police Commissioner is recorded making racist remarks and is forced to resign
o   Police raid the home of Billy Coates, a middle aged black man, while looking for drugs
o   Billy taunts the officers
o   Three officer proceed to beat Billy to death
o   A fourth, younger officer stands by in shock
o   People riot, and Othello gives a speech to calm them, promising justice
o   Othello is promoted to the position of police commissioner
o   Jago convinces the fourth officer to be a witness in court
o   The night before the trial, Jago gets the officer drunk, knowing he will take sleeping pills and die
o   Without a witness, the trial results in no convictions
·      Other officers scorn the fourth officer, showing how racist the department is
·      Othello delivers an eloquent speech to the public, like his speech to the senate in Shakespeare (in both, he later descends into a more crude individual)
·      Similar to Trayvon Martin case, where George Zimmerman was not convicted
·      Jago is racist (we know because says so during multiple asides in the movie)
o   He uses the racists officers on trial to get in touch with some neo-nazis who he asks to attack Dessie and scare Othello into assigning Cass to protect her

An Interview with Andrew Davies

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