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First Look at Orson Welles' Restored Othello
Posted February 3, 2014 04:49 PM by Webmaster
Carlotta Films US have released a trailer for Orson Welles' recently restored Othello (1952), starring Micheál MacLiammóir, Robert Coote, Suzanne Cloutier, and Orson Welles. The restoration will have an exclusive theatrical engagement April 25th - May 8th at Film Forum in New York.
The restored Othello is also expected to arrive on Blu-ray in France later this year.
Orson Welles directed and starred in this version of Shakespeare's famous tragedy. Filmed on a shoestring budget over two years, Welles strips the famous tale of sexual jealousy and betrayal down to its essentials, casting himself as the tragic Moor. Winner of the 1952 Best Picture Award at Cannes.
Controversy stems from the restoration in the 90s. They kept the dialogue track and junked the effects/music tracks in favor of re-recordings. Still have the restoration DVD from Image. The Criterion Laserdisc used the original mix with the original sound effects and music. It was wonderful. You can find it on YouTube. Will buy Day 1 no matter which tracks they used.
I saw this in a movie theatre about ten years ago. I don't know what cut or reconstruction or restoration it was but it was a God awful mess to watch and listen to, dialogue wasn't even properly synched, outdoor scenes were blown out. If those problems are resolved I'd get it. I'll see what the reviews say first
So, let's sum up the story.
Two versions of Othello circulated at the film release. A European release and a later US cut that was flawed from the very beginning with various sound and PQ issues.
Beatrice Welles, who is one of the two daughters Orson Welles fathered (the other one is named Christopher "Chris" Welles), has been trying to milk every cent of her heritage and is said to be the main blocking factor in the release of "The Other Side of the Wind". She commissioned a restoration that was released in 1992 and is now the only version available. The guys who were put in charge of the restoration did a lousy job and didn't examine closely the available source material. For instance, they didn't know about the European cut. So, they restored the US version, overdubbing a new score and sound effects, which did little to make the dialogs clearer.
It would actually be easier to apply some light restoration to the European release and make it the reference version, but Beatrice Welles prefers to use the 1992 restoration, on which she has a more established copyright.