Orson Welles’ “Othello,” based on Shakespeare’s tragedy, was a famously troubled production with a long and checkered history. The film itself was shot sporadically over a period of three years after the film’s initial Italian producer went bankrupt. Welles poured his own money into the production and found some creative solutions to keep the budget down. Shooting went on for so long that some key roles (including Desdemona) had to be recast, with scenes reshot. Though the film won the 1952 Best Picture Award at Cannes, it wasn’t released (in an altered version) in the U.S. until 1955 to little fanfare.
In the film, written and directed by Welles, the director himself plays the doomed Moor in the classic tale of sexual jealousy and betrayal shot on location in Morocco and Rome. Welles starred alongside Micheál MacLiammóir, Robert Coot and Suzanne Cloutier. There have been several different versions of the film, which was first restored in 1992 by Welles’ daughter Beatrice. Though that version (which reportedly cost over $1 million to improve picture quality, re-synch audio and completely re-record the music in stereo) has been critically lambasted as changing the director’s original vision.
Now Carlotta Films US has restored the film yet again and just released a trailer for the recently restored version, which will have an exclusive theatrical engagement April 25th – May 8th at Film Forum in
New York. Despite its problematic past, the film still stands as a testament to Welles’ creativity — and the black and white photography is stunning. Check out the trailer below: