DVD review: 'O' packs jealousy, rage into a modern story of teen-agers

    At first glance, any critic with an ounce of respect for the classics would scoff at the Tim Blake Nelson film “”O.””

    After all, the film, which transposes the entire plot of Shakespeare’s “”Othello”” into a modern race-relations setting, replaces swords with basketballs and features a cast of three teenage heart-throbs — all to a backdrop of hip-hop music.

    However, as the two-disc DVD set of the film makes blatantly clear, the cast and crew behind “”O”” turned hours of careful deliberation and hard work into an awe-inspiring film experience that masterfully weaves in the aforementioned modern elements to take Shakespeare’s message of the dangers of jealousy to a new generation.

    The DVDs themselves are not anything particularly unbelievable; what brings the product into the realm of must-buy is how the DVD features take an already amazing film and further enhance the viewing experience.

    The main feature responsible for the incredible quality of the DVD set is Tim Blake Nelson’s full-length commentary, which discusses everything from references to Shakespeare’s original text to the difficulties in releasing the film due to the events in Columbine, Colo., which occurred during the editing process.

    Similarly, the deleted scenes provide more opportunities to listen and watch the genius of Nelson at work.

    The DVD set does not falter on a technical level. It includes both widescreen and full-screen versions of the film, as well as Spanish subtitles. The image fidelity and sound quality are nothing to gawk over, but most viewers will be so wrapped up in content of the film that such details will not matter.

    And as if “”O”” fans did not have enough extra material to enjoy, there is also a full-length version of the original silent “”Othello”” hidden away on the second DVD. A quick comparison of the two films will show how far the film industry has progressed, not only technologically, but in honesty of subject matter as well.

    When all is said and done, the “”O: 2-Disc Deluxe Edition”” DVD set is an amazing experience on both the film and DVD level. This is a must-buy for anyone interested in the film.

    ‘O’

    ***

    Starring Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles, and Josh Hartnett

    In stores now

    Rated R

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