Director: Orson Welles
USA / 1952 / 93 min
In the first film Welles made after decamping to Europe—and rather miserably shot in fits and starts over three years and across two countries—nearly every frame imparts a feeling of its imminent unraveling. Welles stars, in blackface, as a seething Othello, whose tenuous grip on sanity loosens in an unsettling world that’s collapsing around him. Scenes are littered with unidentified, looming shadowy figures; the camera jumps around mid-scene, destroying any sense of stability; and the dubbed dialogue and non-ambient sounds contribute to a layer of sonic disconnect. This multifold expressionism is paired with fragmentary, disorienting edits, creating an intensity that matches (and sometimes transcends) Shakespeare’s words. Othello marked the thundering start of a new, ambitious phase in Welles’s cinematic style. Restoration courtesy of Shout! Factory and the American Genre Film Archive.