Reading text and watching film require two distinct modes of thinking , and similarly thus, reading the script and watching film adaptations of Shakespeare’s works naturally result in different methods of annotating in order to decipher their meaning. Personally, I tend to be a better annotator when reading play-text rather than film adaptations, as I become absorbed by film as a form of entertainment even whilst attempting to focus on actively taking notes. Whereas for text, it is easier for me to stay focused on actively taking notes as Shakespeare’s language itself needs close reading, even at first glance, to translate its meaning and understand what is literally being said on the page.
The most fundamental difference in annotating film adaptations and scripts of Shakespeare’s plays is that film adaptations require analysis of film techniques, while scripts require analysis of literary techniques. There are various techniques to analyze for film: camera angles, acting, lighting, music, editing, which are difficult to analyze all at once at first glance. Not being much of a film critic, annotating film does not come naturally for me, as I cannot distinguish all such techniques at once, especially at first glance. Also, having most of my film annotation occur during lecture, which make it difficult to re-watch the scene multiple times, annotating film becomes more difficult. However, in such circumstances, I try my best to critically think of what techniques seem purposeful in revealing Shakespeare’s intentions and list the most important and blatant techniques that are being used in that specific scene.
Similar to film, there are various literary techniques to analyze, such as literary devices, rhyme, structuring…etc, and at first glance, it is difficult to locate all such techniques and analyze them. However, I am personally more accustomed to annotating texts, even at first glance; throughout high school, I often wrote notes on the side of novels, plays, stories and poems to decipher the meaning and purpose for each literary technique.
Additionally, during lectures in class, individually re-reading a passage in a script is more feasible than re-watching a section of film. Therefore, annotating text comes more naturally, as I am able to more directly write down and “point” to the sections of the text that need close reading. A “strategy” I found that I used frequently when annotating text is to look up any vocabulary that I cannot understand in the Oxford Dictionary, at first glance. This allows me to understand literally what is happening in the scene before I proceed to looking at Shakespeare’s techniques. Then, I list all the literary techniques that I can identify, re-reading the text multiple times until I am able to find all the techniques Shakespeare has used to the best of my ability. Then finally, I try to determine the purpose in which Shakespeare has used those techniques.
Despite film annotating being difficult for me, in circumstances where I can watch film clips individually at home, annotating film becomes easier because similarly to re-reading text, I can re-watch the scenes as much as I personally wish to. Therefore, I am able to use similar note-taking techniques that I use in annotating text to further analyze the director’s purposeful choices. Similar to annotating text, in my film annotation I also tend to first list all the techniques that are being used in the scene, such as close up shots of Juliet’s face in Zeffirelli’s adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, dark lighting, dramatic acting…etc. When possible, for assignments like the scene comparison blog post, I re-watch the scene multiple times to list all of the techniques that I can identify. Then, I return to my annotated list of techniques and attempt to decipher which choices are significant and what each choice is revealing in terms of characterization, dramatic irony, mood…etc.
Overall, I think that annotating on film requires much more attentiveness; film being a visual medium makes it hard for me to remember all of the images and techniques being used in that moment. However, in contrast, because play-text is written directly on paper, it is much easier to directly point to certain details of the play and close-read to understand its meaning.