When Shakespeare composed the tragedy Othello televisions were not. Along with no televisions, life in the late 1500s had many different qualities than it does today. This time period had no war on drugs and no high school shootings. Peer pressure was not an issue. The audiences of Othello in the 1500s did not face the circumstances that we, American high school students, face today. With these significant differences in daily life, come the attempts of movie creators to help prevent our modern day tragedies.
The movie "O", released on August 31, 2001, is a retelling of Shakespeare's Othello set in a college prepatory school. This movie, shelved over two years due to the epidemic of high school shootings in the late 1990s, is an attempt to take in hand these disasters caused by peer pressure and jealousy (Kurnit). "O" is an effective restoration of Shakespeare's Othello in this day and age as it addresses issues that are imperative and dangerous to its audience.
Jealousy is a dominating factor in both the modern day and Shakespearean Othello. In Othello, the jealousy develops from Iago, who thinks he has been overlooked as his flag officer and as Othello's loyal best friend. In "O", Hugo is jealous of his father's relationship with Odin. Hugo's father, Duke, is also the basketball coach of the team both Odin and Hugo play for. Odin is the team captain and receives the "most valuable player" award which he shares with his "go-to guy," Mike--not Hugo. Hugo believes that he is the M.V.P. of the Hawks and is filled with jealousy when his father gives the award to Odin and says, "I'm very proud to say this publicly, I love him like my own son" ("O").
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...ence more reasoning to the jealousy of the characters and the actions they take. With the changed setting come many differences: drugs and alcohol, peer pressure, violence, and different sources for jealousy and hatred. These issues are the dilemmas we, as teenagers in this new millennium, are faced with day to day. "O" addresses these new era evils without abandoning the original themes and major issues of Shakespeare's Othello. The audience can relate to a story written down hundreds of years ago and benefit from it.
Hartnett, Josh. Interview following "O". 23 March 2010
Kurnit, Scott. "O" movie review. www.romanticmovies.about.com 20 March 2010
List of School Shootings. www.abcnews.com 20 March 2010
Nelson, Tim Blake. Interview folloing "O". 23 March 2010
"O". dvd. Dir. Tim Blake Nelson, Lions Gate Films, 2001
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