The most obvious difference between the two movies is the settings. Oliver Parker has kept Othello in Venice while Tim Blake Nelson has made a more contemporary setting. Just as the settings of the two movies are drastically different, Othello and Odin appropriately fit into each setting. Oliver Parker’s Othello is an experienced solider who is incredibly mature and aware of himself. He has great trust in Iago and sees him as confidante and wants to hear all of his thoughts.
Even though he has this trust in Iago, there is still a distance of leader and servant between the two which is probably why Othello verbally announces his trust in Desdemona. Tim Blake Nelson’s Odin, however embodies a high schooler. Odin is young and seems extremely immature. Odin has complete trust in Hugo and when Hugo suggests watching Desi more closely, he does just that. Instead of having leader and servant relationship, it feels like Odin and Hugo are on equal levels and are friends. Just as their characters are different, Othello and Odin’s reactions to Iago/Hugo are different.
O Tim Blake Nelson
When Iago told Othello about his suspicions about Desdemona, Othello holds his appearance. His anger and uncertainty is suppressed because he understands that there might be a misunderstanding. He insists that he does not suspect anything for appearance sake, but in his mind he is having a lot of suspicions. However Odin is close to believing every word Hugo feeds to him and immediately follows his suggestions. After having the idea of adultery in their minds, Othello and Odin start treating Desdemona/Desi differently. Othello still has some trust with Desdemona and mostly keeps his suspicions to himself.
He keeps his reservations fairly well hidden. Odin on the other hand is extremely verbal and even acts on his anger. When Michael walks out of the house, he refuses to talk to him which suggests an immaturity which has yet to develop outward courtesy. Odin, in fact, expresses his anger so much that he is insistent on Desi’s unfaithfulness. What puts him over the edge is probably when Michael was asked to replace Odin on the basketball team where Odin promptly throws a couple of punches at Michael, storms out of the court, and slams the door behind him, which shows a lack of discipline, childishness, and the inability to control his emotions.
Shakespeare’s plays are open to interpretation and that is perhaps the reason why his plays can has drastically different settings but still convey the same themes and emotions. Oliver Parker introduces us to a well-respected, responsible Othello while Tim Blake Nelson creates a new highly-emotional, highly-mistrustful Odin. While they are the same “character” they both possess different qualities.