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Love or Jealousy

Spring 1997; 88 minutes; cast and crew of 11; approximate cost of $15; rated PG-13.

Synopsis

Love or Jealousy, Tokugawa Pictures' second major "serious" work (the first being The Escape), is based on William Shakespeare's play of apparent infidelity, Othello. (Although this movie also includes short passages from Hamlet and Macbeth, its plot is that of said play.)

The plot? United States Military General Owen promotes Casey to the rank of Lieutenant, slighting his "faithful servant" Ian by making him his secretary. Ian, angry at Owen and jealous of Casey, figures out a plan: he will use the resources of his wife Emily and his friend Rodger to pull one over on Owen. He is successful, and manages to make Owen believe that his wife (Denise) is sleeping ("making the beast with two backs," in the Bard's wonderful language) with Casey. As gullible as Owen is concerning the female species, the General is consumed by such a degree by jealousy that he will kill his wife. "Do it not with poison," Ian says. "Strangle her in her bed, even the bed she hath contaminated." As is typical in Shakespearean tragedy, quite a few people die: Ian kills his friend and Emily and Owen kills Denise and himself (upon realizing his wife's innocence). There is a bit more to the plot than this, but it is (essentially) the exact same plot as Othello.


Characters

Left: Owen (Aaron Hemphill) gets grilled by his lover's father, Benson (Scott Rubey).

Right: Ian (David Benjamin) plays the game "Othello" (get it?) with his friend Rodger (Jeff Parker).

 

Left: Owen interrogates his wife Denise (Clark Kirkman) about a missing handkerchief while her handmaiden Emily (Becky Parker) looks on.

Right: Ian watches Mel (Candace Lovejoy) and Casey (Dan Crane) get drunk.

Influences

Obviously, this was influenced by the play Othello. It remains essentially the same, except: the title character is a Jew (not a Moor), it takes place in Portland, Oregon, and not Cyprus and Venice, a few minor characters are removed, and all the character names are updated. For instance: Owen=Othello, Denise=Desdemona, Ian=Iago, Rodger=Roderigo, Casey=Cassio, Emily=Emilia, Mel=Montano, Benson=Brabantio, and Lane=a combination of Lodovico and Gratiano.

Method

Nothing new. Like The Escape, this movie was edited from three hours of raw footage to eighty-eight minutes of the finished movie on a VCR, but an audio mixer was also used to improve the sound quality (although it could not fix those scenes where people did not talk loud enough). This is the first major Tokugawa Picture to use music from only one source. Previous movies used mixtures of Weird "Al" Yankovic, John Williams, James Horner, and Edward Grieg, but this movie uses only music by the Irish band U2. The songs used are appropriate to the scenes in which they can be heard:

  • "Exit" (The Joshua Tree): used when Ian is getting really mad at Owen.
  • "Acrobat" (Achtung Baby): used when Ian is tricking Rodger.
  • "Elvis Presley and America" (The Unforgettable Fire): all right, it doesn't apply to the scene, but the song's lyrics deal with Shakespeare's King Lear.
  • "Do You Feel Loved?" (Pop): used ironically before Ian and Rodger are about to attack (with intent to kill) Casey.
  • "Love is Blindness" (Achtung Baby): used after Owen, blind in his love, kills his wife.

Firsts

While previous Tokugawa movies have employed male actors as cross-dressers or playing female roles, this is the first Tokugawa movie to have a serious portrayal of a female character by a male (Denise) and a male character by a female (Mel, although this character's gender isn't as crucial to the plot). The role of Denise raised some interesting issues in the production of this movie because there are two kissing scenes, but this was worked out without too much difficulty.

Lessons learned

  • Memorize your lines before the day of filming. It took hours to get a few minutes on tape because many people memorized their lines at the last minute (or they forgot them the night before). Of course, memorizing ahead of time doesn't mean the delivery will be perfect--people still switched words, left out entire clauses, and said "Moor" instead of "Jew" when referring to Owen. (It is hard to get internally rhymed phrases such as "abhor the Moor" out of one's head.)
  • SPEAK LOUD!!! (I think this is a lesson found in most Tokugawa movies, excluding Fuzzywhumple Resurrection, so whether it is a lesson truly learned is debatable.) Also, avoid filming by roads and other places with loud ambient noises unless you are planning to SHOUT.
  • Just because a Shakespearean scene takes place in one location does not limit said scene to one location in a movie production. Movies are different from theatre in that you can utilize more special effects, sets, locations, music, etcetera. I really didn't take advantage of the flexibility provided by the medium in staging the scenes.

What people think

"It's ambitious."


--Professor Nathan Cogan, Portland State University English Department

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