Andre Retuta: Notes Reflection

I have never been an excellent notes-taker.  If you see me in class, you would probably only notice a laptop with me typing away while a lecture is happening.  My methods for note-taking is mostly due to the fact that I can process things easier in auditory fashion rather than just reading about it or checking a PowerPoint presentation.

I’ve always loved reading big texts since I was a child.  My first memory of even LEARNING how to read was my sister helping and teaching me with the novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  That being said, I have a big problem annotating on play-text media, mainly because I have always been taught to take care of my books and I feel that writing stuff on it is a way of defacing the medium itself.  However, the best method I started doing that may still be attributed a little bit to notes-taking is to simply type my thoughts into my laptop (specifically the program OneNote) and making sure that the referenced pages are noted and in bold for me to be able to piece things together when I start reading them back.

This may not be effective to most people as I do have to admit, it does take a lot of effort to keep thoughts in place while typing.  It is easier, after all, to simply write things down (and faster too!).  A lot of times I read back into what I have typed as notes and you can imagine my surprise finding random spelling errors produced from the rush of typing, especially when you have lots of thoughts you’re trying to convey.  However, I found that this is something I am more comfortable with and effective to me personally, in part because of how I “trained” myself with this method for fear of defacing a book.  Another part of this is because anytime I see a word or a passage that I am unfamiliar with, I can simply put a start and type it in for me to find out what it means at a later time.  Once that is done, it is easy for me to fit things together like a puzzle and have ideas consistent with what the author was trying to show.

Now when it comes to my annotation practices on film, I find it just a tad more difficult simply because of me being tempted to enjoy watching it rather than doing an analytical take on it.  Also, when comparing it to reading play-text, a film already supplies you with the  director’s rendition of it.  Everything is made for you to see, the ideas are all presented on the big screen.  Whereas in play-text, what you see in your mind is your own imagination and your own rendition of how a specific scene or situation goes.  With that being said, it takes a lot more effort for me to take notes while watching film because it is harder to see the various themes or underlying elements that each scene is trying to convey.  Often times as well with film, I find it easy to miss some important scenes if I ever do take notes at the same time.  I simply find it harder to type in “check scene at 31:50” and then notes after that because by the time that is typed in, I might already have missed a couple important subsequent scenes.

My method for taking notes are not vastly different, simply because I am comfortable with working on a laptop versus writing stuff down on a notebook for either play-text or film annotating.  However, I feel that reading play-text is easier for me to do, and I am able to say that I am a more effective note-taker when it comes to annotating books and novels because I am able to live in my own imagination.  The ideas stick better because they are of my own, and I am able to remember them more easily than trying to remember another person’s rendition of it.

Andre Retuta: Film Review

Zeffirelli’s rendition of Hamlet (1990) was really interesting to me right from when I first saw it, which is roughly around a couple of years ago.  It is probably my favorite Shakespeare play, regardless of how limited my knowledge of his productions is.

The first time I saw the film, I was intrigued right away by the dark ambience that started the whole movie.  I have always been a fan of movies with a sombre tone which is probably another reason why Zeffirelli’s Hamlet, compared to other renditions, is my favorite.  One thing that I noticed about Zeffirelli’s Hamlet though, is its immediate divergence from Shakespeare’s original script.  The original script opens with the traditional sequence involving the sighting of the ghost of Hamlet’s father, while Zeffirelli’s opening is instead a funeral sequence of his own design.  We understand right away how much Hamlet distrusts his uncle Claudius, shown in the opening scene where Claudius starts speaking with Hamlet.  The lines “think of us as of a father; for let the world take note you are the most immediate to our throne, and with no less nobility of love than that which dearest father bears his son do I impart toward you.” show Claudius’ attempt at good intentions, while Hamlet’s response shows the distrust he holds for him.

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While we see right away the conflict between Hamlet and Claudius, we also continue to unravel the fact that Hamlet holds his father in the highest regard as opposed to how he holds Claudius, and this is then consistently reinforced all throughout the film.

Somewhat proof of this comparison between Hamlet’s father and Claudius (or lack thereof), is shown in Hamlet’s first monologue.  In this first soliloquy, Hamlet laments about his father compared to Claudius, so delicately captured with the lines “So excellent a king; that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr…”

In this scene as well, Hamlet expresses his disgust with his mother Gertrude about how his she has now intertwined herself with Claudius after Hamlet’s father’s recent passing.

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This is described accurately by the lines “But two months dead! – nay, not so much, not two…” and also “Why, should she hang on him as if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on: and yet, within a month…”  The scene from the film ended on Hamlet saying “Frailty, thy name is woman!”, which cut off most of Hamlet’s soliloquy written originally, another deviation from Shakespeare’s original piece.

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Perhaps the most iconic scene in Hamlet is his famous soliloquy from Act 3, Scene 1.  I really like how Zeffirelli introduces this scene, as he starts of from showing Hamlet’s face portraying pure emotion and then pans through the coffins as if to show a subtle longing for death.  Numerous times do we see Hamlet peering at the coffins, also leaning on them as if talking with the idea of the dead being his only audience.  There are also parts in this scene as well that Hamlet looks up at a beaming light, possibly hoping for answers as he ponders thoughts of suicide, before then stepping back into darkness with suggests once again the conflict in his mind – hence, “to be or not to be”.  Finally, this scene was focused more on Hamlet’s monologue itself, that Zeffirelli did not feel the need to put in any background musical score.  I feel that it really captures Shakespeare’s intent of the moment supposedly being dark and sorrowful, while at the same time being powerful and iconic as well.

As a whole, the film – in my humble opinion – is well made from a simple bystander’s point of view.  It may have had some deviations from the original piece that Shakespeare wrote, however I feel that it still captured the emotion and the message that he originally wanted to portray.  The acting in the film also captures the characters that they are trying to portray, yet also distinguished their own style within the character.

Zeffirelli gave a very refreshing take on one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces, Hamlet.