Notes Reflection

I am the first to admit that my annotation skills need some work. I tend to write very little when I annotate, and when I am annotating non-fiction or critical text I often rely on highlighters to indicate what I think is important rather than elaborate on what I think makes that particular passage important. It’s not that I have anything against writing in my books, it’s that a lot of the time I feel like I just don’t know what to write, or if my thoughts on the text are valid or relevant in any way. In September 2015, I actually spent some time trying to improve my annotation skills through reading blogs and watching videos on YouTube.

This video helped me reflect on annotating in my personal, but also academic reading as a way to communicate with the text and to make my books MY books,


and this flow chart is a good reminder that it’s okay to be vulnerable and ask questions when annotating.



When I revisited my close reading scene for this blog post, it became very evident to me that I still have a lot of work to do on the asking questions and sharing my thoughts/feelings part of annotating a text. My annotations for this scene are primarily concerned with words and patterns; I notice repetition, alliteration and rhyme. When it comes to the question “How do you determine their success?”, I believe that these annotations are somewhat successful because they are a reminder of the literary devices I found to be important while close reading, but upon revisiting the text these annotations fail to remind me of my overall impression and feelings about this scene. I need to also make notes of my own thoughts for my annotations to be truly successful and beneficial to my learning. I also believe I need to improve on including the “Why” in my annotations – why do I believe a line is repetitive or alliterative? Why do I believe it is important that a certain line is written in perfect iambic pentameter? These are things I included in my close reading paper, but it would be more beneficial for these thoughts to be written directly on my text so I can be reminded of them for future readings. I think part of my inability to annotate about my thoughts and feelings effectively in this particular close reading may be because I found the margins of this edition quite small for annotating, but I want to make more of an effort to rely on sticky notes or my notebook for when this happens.

When it comes to taking notes while watching films, however, I think I tend to take the opposite approach and focus on my feelings

IMG_1465My notes from watching the 2013 film Romeo and Juliet are comprised almost entirely of my thoughts and impressions. Upon rereading these notes I remember how I felt watching the first few minutes of the film, but I don’t remember much about Crowl’s film elements that we read about and discussed in class, beyond script/screenplay. While my notes from this viewing are certainly “successful” in regards to reminding me of my feelings about the film and allow me to recall certain elements of the acting, music, and direction, I remember very little about the camera and editing. I think when it comes to my annotating and note taking techniques, I need to combine how I notice literary devices in text and my ability to write my feelings about film for my annotations and notes to be more successful and beneficial. I think my failure to discuss film technique in my notes is because this is the first time I have been writing critically and academically about film, but I’m going to try to rely on Crowl’s text to improve my notes.

When it comes to close reading scenes from Hamlet this weekend and next, I am going to make more of an effort to elaborate in my annotations. I’m going to note why I think a literary device is important and what it makes me think or makes me feel. I’m going to purchase sticky notes to make my annotations longer. When I watch Hamlet next week I am going to have Crowl’s book as well as the original text in front of me so that I can make notes about film elements beyond the screenplay. I want my film notes to be just as elaborate as my text annotations and to write in language that understands elements of film.


3 Fair Verona’s: Comparisons of the Prologue and Act 1 Scene 1 in Romeo and Juliet

There are many adaptations of Shakespeare’s Rome and Juliet, but the three that seem to be the most known today are Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film, Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet, and most recently Carlo Carlei’s 2013 adaptation. I chose to focus on the prologues and the first scene of these three films because I was very impressed by how Kenneth Branagh adapted the prologue in Henry V and wanted to see how other directors adapted the idea of the chorus for their films. I wrote this blog while watching Carlei’s and Zefirelli’s films for the first time in order to capture my first impressions, but Luhrmann’s was a very enjoyable rewatch. I intended to watch Carlei’s then Zefirelli’s, but I got so excited for Luhrmann’s that I ended up rewatching it first.

Carlei’s adaptation begins with a narrator reciting the first four lines from Shakespeare’s prologue very dramatically and sets the scene “in fair Verona” as a traditional chorus would, so initially quite true to the original text. However, the opening sequence is a weird tournament going on between the Capulets and the Montagues that is never adequately explained and feels out of place. Things become more deviated from the text when Mercutio is declared part of the house of Montague, a literal relative of Romeo instead of related to the prince. We then cut to a scene where Juliet is running around her mansion playing like a child with her nurse, and the dialogue doesn’t seem to have any relation to Shakespeare’s original; aesthetically pleasing but not necessary

tumblr_o2ypsw0WNT1tcb1hzo5_400    tumblr_o2ypsw0WNT1tcb1hzo8_400

Eventually we see some text from act 1 scene 1 during the brawl between the Capulets and Montagues but it’s not clear who is who because of how much dialogue was cut out, spoken by different characters, and completely rewritten. There is no mention of Sampson, or anyone, “biting their thumb” to initiate the brawl, so it feels forced and messy. After a few more minutes of cringing while a childish Benvolio talked to Romeo about things not in the original text, I felt it was best to move on. There wasn’t any poetry or beauty to the language in Carlei’s adaptation, and I was ready to talk about Luhrmann. I didn’t finish watching Carlei’s adaptation. Sorry Carlei.


Luhrmann’s creativity shines through instantly. Rather than use a traditional narrator like the 2013 film, Romeo + Juliet begins with the camera zooming in on a small television set of a newscast in which a reporter announces Shakespeare’s prologue as a headline. The prologue is announced completely faithfully with the exception of the ending couplet, but it sets the dramatic tone of this modernization extremely well. The line “Is now the two hours traffic of our stage;” is an excellent ending to the prologue because the reporter has informed of us exactly what will take place. Statements of the prologue flash on the screen while flickering images of Verona prepare us for the story about to unfold.

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 6.52.20 PM

We learn that fair Verona is Verona Beach, and the Capulets and Montagues are feuding business families. This whole sequence establishes the surreal setting of the film extremely well. The cast being shown directly to the audience is a feature that I’ve always liked because if you’re unfamiliar with the story it helps you get a grasp on who is who, but it’s also just a nice reminder that this wonderful human is in the film!

I am very happy about Paul Rudd

I am very happy about Paul Rudd. Paris may not be wonderful, but he is!

The Capulet and Montague come out for their brawl dressed in flamboyant clothes and flashing guns. Like Carlei’s scene, the script isn’t entirely faithful to the text because it jumps around, but with Luhrmann’s film it seems a lot more coherent and a justified choice because it is a modernization, it is a particular vision, while Carlei’s is struggling to be traditional yet dumbed down by not taking Shakespeare’s original poetry. The brawl also has a clear cause because the lines about biting their thumbs are spoken. The elaborate music, costumes, props and setting help create feelings of surrealism; they announce that Luhrman is here to do something that hasn’t been done before, and it is entirely original. Although Leo’s delivery in the remainder of scene 1 isn’t excellent, he does what is necessary for Luhrman’s take on the text. Luhrman’s aim is an accessible and creative modernization, and Leo was the right choice to engage young audiences in the 90s, as Claire was the perfect Juliet.


Zeffirelli’s film opens with a traditional chorus reciting the prologue until line 8, which I found to be a more effective place to stop than the fourth line in Carlei’s opening. The prologue is being spoken while overlooking medieval Verona as classical music plays lightly in the background, which is a simple but highly effective opening that establishes the setting and traditional tone of the film. This traditional tone is maintained throughout the first scene as this film is closest to the original text and maintains the dialogue about Sampson biting his thumb and enticing Abraham to fight. This sequence is as witty and entertaining as Luhrmann’s, something that Carlei’s failed to achieve by keeping the scene extremely short and not drawing enough from the original text.

The conversation that takes place between Romeo and Benvolio is also the closest to the original text. Romeo is effectively established as a lovestruck teenager through the romantic music, the performances and the dialogue chosen, which I did not find believable in Carlei’s version, and was not as sentimental or character establishing as Luhrmann’s.

Out of these three films, Zeffirelli’s is closest to the original and successfully maintains a traditional tone, and it was the one I was most excited to complete in the end. Luhrmann’s is still my favourite because of my attachment to the actors, but I was most impressed overall with Zeffirelli’s.

Leonard and Olivia are just as cute as Claire and Leo. I was pleasantly surprised.

Leonard and Olivia are just as cute as Claire and Leo. I was pleasantly surprised.



Ian McKellen’s New Shakespeare App

Hey all, I found an interesting article I thought was worth sharing. Sir Ian McKellen recently launched an iPad app that he believes will make Shakespeare more enjoyable and interactive for students. So far only The Tempest is available, but if he releases any of the plays we’re studying this semester I would be very interested in purchasing the app, our beloved Stephen Fry is apparently in consideration for reading the next plays released. Have a happy break!