Reiterating Othello: Spectral Media and the Rhetoric of Silence in Alexander Abela’s Souli

  • Maurizio Calbi
Part of the Reproducing Shakespeare: New Studies in Adaptation and Appropriation book series (RESH)


Set in Ambola, a remote fishing village on the southwestern coast of Madagascar, Alexander Abela’s Souli (2004) is the director’s second experiment with a geographical, temporal, and cultural transposition of Shakespeare. Unlike its predecessor, Makibefo (1999), an adaptation of Macbeth also set in Madagascar that enjoyed a short theatrical run and subsequently circulated in DVD format, Souli, a film “freely inspired by Shakespeare’s Othello” (as the end credits state it), has not yet been released commercially, in spite of positive responses when shown at international film festivals.1 Mark Thornton Burnett has eloquently written about the “vagaries of global exhibition and distribution” in relation to both films, and how they have “slipped off the compass of mainstream attention,” including Shakespeare-on-film criticism, “falling into the category of productions that … run the risk of remaining relatively anonymous” (“Madagascan” 240, 252). Thus, both Makibefo and Souli, and the latter in particular, bear witness to “a filmic world dominated by Hollywoodized versions of Shakespeare,” and point to what is arguably a wider issue: the “inherent unpredictabilities of the Shakespearian filmmaking initiative” (251).s Employing categories of postcolonial theory such as transnationalism, migrancy and hybridity, Burnett also underlines that the composite dynamics of production, circulation, and reception are not only (what may be called) the “external border” of these films, but are also integral to them.


Global Stage Postcolonial Theory Interracial Relationship Composite Dynamic Busy Port 
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© Maurizio Calbi 2013

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  • Maurizio Calbi

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