Review of A Map for Rereading

            In Annette Kolodny’s paper, A Map for Rereading: Or, Gender and the Interpretation of Literary Texts first paragraph, she is explaining the foundation for Harold Bloom’s argument in his paper, A Map of Misreading. In his text Bloom argues that all poems are relative to eachother, meaning the subject of each poem is other poems (Kolodny 1). In the paragraph to follow Kolodny explains what bloom describes as his, “Wholly different practical realism” (1), which describes poetry as a response to or misinterpreting of another poet’s work. Each poem creates its own catalogue of texts responding to one another, with meaning lying between the two texts rather than singularly. In these first two paragraphs, Kolodny is explaining the basic premise of Bloom’s argument while also introcducing its fundamental flaw. This allows readers unfamiliar with bloom to gain an understanding, and for readers familiar with Bloom it may draw them in.

In the third paragraph Bloom’s argument is explained in greater detail that criticism is also a less drastic form of misinterpretation, and therefor replicates the poets process. Kolodny gives a hint of what is to come by referring to the mostly male readership of Bloom. In the fourth paragraph Kolodny gets towards her argument refuting Bloom by saying the interpretive strategies are learned and gender-inflected. Kolodny argues that Bloom’s concept is reliant upon a literary tradition and thereby excludes literature outside of that tradition. To drive the point home, Kolodny quotes Bloom saying there is no writing without imitation of generations past. Oddly this paragraph ends with quite a long quote which acts as Bloom using his own words to effectively dig his own grave.

The reason Kolodny uses four paragraphs to explain Bloom is to create a strong argument to make her counter-argument look even stronger. By explaining Bloom in such detail and then explaining the gendered nature of Bloom’s argument, Kolodny has already given strong evidence for her argument that the literary tradition is by default sexist because of its exclusion of women. In the fifth paragraph Kolodny gets to the heart of her argument discussing the exclusion of women from the literary tradition because of their sex. In the second to last sentence of the fifth paragraph Kolodny gives her thesis statement, which is that the lack of tradition will communicate itself to the reader and give them that sense of exclusion. Kolodny spends so much time explaining Bloom to establish that there is in fact a literary tradition and that its nature is exclusionary to multiple groups of people. To a certain extent, Kolodny begins the paper by piggybacking on Bloom’s argument, but essentially pulls the rug out from Bloom’s feet exposing how this concept of criticism, and response to poetry, ignores the bulk of literature and often alienates authors and readers.

Citations

Kolodny, Annette. “A Map for Rereading: Or, Gender and the Interpretation of Literary

Texts.” New Literary History.

Tekla McIlhargey: Notes Reflection

My approach and habits for taking notes have similarities and differences when it comes to play-text versus watching a film version of a Shakespeare play.  The better the notes, the easier it is for me to find what I’m looking for quicker, look back and understand what I was interpreting and remember the most important details.

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When I am watching a film interpretation of a Shakespeare play, I will have the script of the play with me as well as my notebook to take notes.  While watching I will pause the film whenever I feel something essential has happened that I should be noting.  I will find the scene in the book and will scan or re-read the scene, depending on how well I remember it, then will compare the language:  Is it an exact replica of the language in the Shakespeare script?  Were word and/or lines omitted or changed?  Characters: How are the characters visually interpreted in the film?  How do the actors portray the character versus how I felt the character would look while reading the play?  Setting: Is it time appropriate?  Modern?  What location choices did the director decide would suite this play and their interpretation of it?  Music:  Is the film score original to the film?  Is it modern music easily recognizable?  Is it loud music?  Soft music? Continuous or in and out?  I will also write down the scene and act from the play as well as the time on the film so that I can easily find it later, if needed.  Once I feel I have written down what I will need to remember and what I feel is essential I continue with watching the film will again pause and do the same when pertinent.   I do not annotate directly on the script while I do my notes for film-review.  This is an area where I see I can improve.  If I wrote directly on the text I would have had an easier time understanding my notes written in my notebook and where exactly in the play I could draw connections.

While reading a Shakespeare play my first and most important habit is to use a version of the play which includes definitions on the page.  I will lookout for words I don’t understand and write them directly over the word in the text.  I will look for word-play and grammar specific to Shakespeare: his use of puns, double-meanings, metaphors and personification.  My main technique for note taking is by annotating while I read.  I find this keeps me more involved in the text and less likely to lose my train of thought.  If I run out of room in the margins, I add post-it notes to the pages to continue with my annotating.  I find this can become very overwhelming when I go back to review my annotated notes and I have been trying to use my notebook more for notes when reading a Shakespeare play.  Another habit I have recently been trying to change is to use a pen to annotate instead of a pencil.  The pencil smudged and it creates a messy and sometimes unreadable annotation.

I find the habits I have developed throughout my education have for the most part helped me, however, they can become messy and in that sense I do require improvement.  As Shakespeare can often be perplexing to read or watch I believe the best habit is patience and to know it will require some interpretation.  Good note taking is imperative to obtaining an understanding of Shakespeare.

Mark Borissov: Notes Reflection

I have an odd relationship to note taking. I find the ways in which I take notes vary depending on my professor’s teaching style. If the professor writes on a board or overhead projector as he or she speaks I will be more inclined to take notes along with the lecture. But if the professor’s teaching style is guided by a PowerPoint presentation, or heavily reliant on group discussion, I tend to close my note book until after class is finished, and will instead try to be as engaged in what I’m viewing and discussing as possible. In lectures where I take fewer notes I will only write down things which I know are significant due to their emphasis in that class, or something that interests me enough to revisit it later. To counteract my lack of in class notes, I tend to take more notes outside of these classes.

 

When annotating a text, I never take notes in the margins of my book. It may be helpful for some people, but I find annotated margins distracting and messy on the page, that they create problems when rereading the text. Instead, I will take notes on a separate page, but only of explicit plot details, or of literary devices worth remembering. The only thing I add to my books are sticky notes used to point out specific passages, however I tend to do this mostly when analyzing small parts of a text and gathering quotations for an essay.

 

In regards to this class my note taking practices haven’t changed much. Since our class is guided by PowerPoint and utilizes class discussion I tend to avoid taking notes. When viewing films, I find it especially important to pay close attention to the details in the scenes we watch. Concentrating on a film academically isn’t something I’ve experienced often prior to taking this course, and I’ve found that annotating while watching to be counterproductive. However, I did find it helpful to have read the assigned texts before class, as we tended to watch scenes which relate directly to what we had to read, especially Crowl.

 

This being a Shakespeare course, I’ve taken many notes on our assigned plays. I’ve been using my mom’s copy of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” to read at home, so notes in the margin are not acceptable. My understanding of Shakespeare is a lot like my understanding of Russian; it’s a language I know, often forgot, but remember easily with practice. Before taking notes on a Shakespeare play, before I even start reading it, I prefer to read a synopsis so I know what’s going on instead of trying to figure it out. I will then usually read the play twice. The first time I read a Shakespeare play I like to view a performance of it and follow along, focusing on plot, and taking very few notes. The second reading is done slowly and out-loud, more focused on details and semantics. During the second reading I will make annotations on a separate page, most of which will be either quotations from the play, or interpretations written in colloquial. Apart from essay research, this will be the only time I take notes explicitly in regards to the text.

 

Taking notes on film is similar, yet slightly different. The first time I watch a film I won’t take any notes, and will instead, like reading a play or sitting in class, sit back and enjoy it, trying to sponge up as much information as possible. After the first viewing I will meditate on what I’ve watched, taking personal notes on things that I noticed and can remember from the film. Watching it a second time, I will pause and take notes on things that are relevant to my inquiry, skipping through things that aren’t. When analyzing a specific scene, I will skip, pause, and replay at my heart’s content, until every camera angle, every cue, every cut is analyzed.

 

In all honesty I’m not sure whether or not my annotative practices are successful or not. Having been diagnosed with a bullshit learning disability at a young age, I found it hard as a kid to take notes, and only started doing so when I began university. Creating these rules for myself around when to and when not to take notes allows me to concentrate more easily on what I’m learning. So far I’m not failing any of my classes this semester, I’d call that a success.

Notes Reflection- Arshpreet Dhariwal

Annotating while reading a play-text has become second nature thanks to all the practice high school Shakespeare gave me, but making notes while watching a movie is a new concept that I have recently started doing.

My hand written notes are anything but neat and possibly not legible to a person other then me who reads them, but they represent the quick thought processes in my brain and connect information that probably only makes sense to me. I have gotten better at taking notes of only the important information. I have spent years copying notes word for word and going back to find that I understood nothing. Bad habits die hard and I still can not prevent myself from doing this completely, so I have invented tactics to help myself avoid writing down useless information.

For me note taking has to be done the old fashion way, good ole’ pen and paper writing out information helps the material to be cognitively stored in my brain and for a Biology major this definitely helps remember the many, many terms a lot quicker. I apply the techniques I have learned with my science notes to my english notes; sounds weird right. But really the skill of taking down the information I hear from the professor or teacher himself is essential, the thought process of the teacher really helps explain details about certain ideas and shows you insight on how you will be graded or what you will be examined on.

Making notes in text is something I have had to work on more perpetually, and I can say that I have improved a vast amount since the days when I would leave asterisk’s all over my page’s expecting future me to realize what those were referring to. Annotating texts is similar to note taking but has more to do with explanations, and referring to literary devices used in significant parts of plays or novels. Instead of starring up my page like the night sky,

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I like to colour code and use the margins in books to note down specific themes and motifs. For Shakespeare’s plays the margins are very much useful for explaining what he is saying, and what is happening in the scenes. In high school I found it extremely helpful to also have sticky notes; colour coded obviously, that pinpoint exactly where certain more significant literary devices were used or being repeated. That may have been a reason why I found Shakespeare a lot more comprehendible then my classmates, and also a reason that enticed me to take this course.

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The Sticky Code- Yellow=Themes/Motifs Green=Word choices/metaphors/similes Pink=Is my bookmark on that page

I now use all the tricks of the trade I have learned over the course of my twelve years of schooling and apply them to higher level academic courses like this one. The biggest con about my style of note taking is that it is very time consuming, and university is all about beating that time clock. This is why I tend to rely more on brief note taking and just basic explanations in margins, its not as affective and I can definitely see the difference in the results, but it is the best balance between colour coding and just plan underlining.

Taking notes while watching a film is quite difficult for me and something I have to focus on improving. My reasoning for this might sound silly but this is something that I find hard to do because I am a very visual learner; thats why colour coding is so helpful to me, and I believe that if I watch a movie I can store all the visual details about it in my sensory memory. Little ‘note’ on sensory memory its our short term memory so nothing really stays up there for long enough unless you use it, basically the memory fades away and then I fail the test.

To improve my film note taking I will start with actually writing down important information, I believe that having categories set up on my page would help me since that is how I set up my note taking for texts and plays. I believe having my page setup in categories before hand will make it easier to take down important information since details in movies are a lot easier to miss then details in texts, because of the inability to actually write on the movie script.

Malyuin Noor: Notes Reflection

I have never mastered the ability to take excellent notes while listening to lectures that many of my fellow classmates have. It is something I constantly struggle with. I feel this sense of anxiety trying to keep up with what is being said. So, a habit I have picked up while taking notes in class, is writing one word points that I can go over once class is finished, using both the professor’s slides and textbooks. This is also the method I use when reading through a specific text. I highlight key terms in the text that pop out at me while reading. I feel like only highlighting these key terms allows me to focus, as well as using these terms as triggers words that I can remember. Reading Shakespeare texts is a whole different ball game.  First thing I did before reading King Henry V is looking up the acts and scenes on Sparksnotes. If this play has been adapted into film, which most have been, I like to also watch it before I read the play.  After that I would read the actual scene in the book, highlighting those terms I do not know. At this point I would write notes down in a notebook summarizing scenes I have read. I would follow this with another look at Sparksnotes to help me fully comprehend what I have read because of the old English Shakespeare likes to use. I also love to use cue cards to help separate different topics, scenes, and terms.

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Now watching a film for academic purposes or research is a different story. I like to watch it the first time taking no notes at all. I don’t want to be distracted by having to take notes because I might miss an important line or interaction. I will then watch the film for a second time around, making sure I take notes of important sequences, actors, settings, etc. As to watching a film that has been adapted from a play or novel I have varying opinions. I have noticed that going into a movie after reading the novel, really affects my watching pleasures. I am so busy dissecting every minute of the film. Why is this character played by a male, why was this whole chapter missing, or why was the order of events done differently? These are the types of questions going through my mind as I watch the movie. I have this rule now, where I will not watch a film if I have already read the book or vise versa. There is just too much disappointment, so I do one or the other, never both.

Before I go on a tangent of all the movies I have ever watched, let me get back to my point. If I am being honest I never thought about the freedom Directors and Screenplay writers have when adapting a novel/play into film. I always thought there were copyrights that would prevent someone from changing it too much. It was only after taking this course and reading Crowl’s Shakespeare and Film: A Norton Guide that I realized this. So this is something that I will have to take in to consideration when watching adaptations.

When make annotation, whether it’s from reading a text, listening to a lecture, or watching a film, my first inclination is to just listen and absorb what is being said. Taking down quick jot notes of key terms is crucial. Side note; I love to use bright colours when taking notes because it makes me happy. It is important to remember not to get stuck on one thing because you might miss something else. I also, like having discussions about what was taught in class that day with a fellow student. Putting into words what I understood from the lecture/reading/ film, and hearing how someone else might have interpreted it, helps a great deal.

Kirsten Cordingley: Notes Reflection

When annotating a play-text, we are able to focus on a specific line, phrase, or word before heading to the next, while when taking notes for a film, we are writing about a moment that is already passing. That is, unless we choose to frequently pause the movie. In this way, note taking for texts and movies requires a break amidst the action, but I personally find that annotating texts is less jarring than pausing films to take notes.

While watching films for this class, I start with a focus on the characters. Since films interpret Shakespeare’s text differently, often the actors and actresses will not portray a Shakespearean character as I imagined them when reading the text. I will often open up a different tab on my laptop with the cast list, so that I know who’s who in the film, which is especially helpful if I’m not very familiar with the text. As the plot unfolds, I will make character charts to show how people relate to each other. For example, drawing arrows and hearts to indicate who is in love and who is related.

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I note differences in the film in relation to the text, and often have the play opened, whether in book form or online, while watching. Considering what the director changes or highlights helps to understand the message or moments they try to emphasize. For example, in Throne of Blood there is only one witch character, rather than the three Weird Sisters that are in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. However, while I do take note of Shakespeare’s text when watching films adapted from his plays, I also stay aware that these films are fullsizerender-2an independent and unique creation. I pay attention to camera angles, editing, music, and acting. While doing my film review, I made notes along the way regarding anything that stuck out to me regarding these elements. For example, I took note of the music and animation choices used with the character Prospero in Taymor’s The Tempest.

When annotating play-texts, I find it helpful to summarize the footnotes in the margins beside the word or lines it applies to. This way I can reread the lines without having to look down at the footnotes. I underline things that stand out to me as important, and put question marks beside things that I don’t fully understand, often to bring them up to a classmate or professor later on. I also put a star beside passages or lines if I believe them to be significant in meaning, or applicable to a particular argument or analysis I am forming in an assignment or essay. I add notes in the margins to summarize events or explain things like symbolism. If I am close reading a passage for a paper, I will go through the passage after having read it a few times already and count the syllables in each line to see whether there is any significance in the line length. For example, in my close reading paper of the Chorus that opens Act 4 in Henry V, I noticed that Shakespeare strays from iambic pentameter in a particular line, which helped me to note his emphasis on a certain point. Similarly, I will go through and look at the ends of each line for any sort of rhyming, because often words are rhymed to point the readers attention to a particular detail.

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The main problem I have when watching a film or reading a text for class is getting too engrossed in the story and forgetting to annotate or make notes. In this case, to ensure that I am successful with helping myself with assignments, or future exams, I have to go back and slowly read or watch while annotating. I heavily connect how well I comprehend the text or movie to how successful my annotating and note taking were. If I have a well-formed discussion about the movie or play, or write a well-formed paper, then I know I have succeeded in taking concise and helpful notes. Whereas, if I feel I did not understand the text or movie, or have trouble picking out any meaning, I know I have to go back and annotate and note take more, paying attention to things that I didn’t the first time.

Jessica Whitmore – Notes Reflection

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When I read a Shakespearean text, I have several stages of annotation before I begin to evaluate his underlying meaning. Foremost, I will attempt to deconstruct Shakespeare’s lines so that I am able to understand them in modern English. I have always interpreted Shakespeare as being an artisan of linguistics. Therefore, I perceive his words as predominantly metaphorical in nature.

Once I have tried to find the narrative of Shakespeare’s lines, I will write my interpretations of the words in front of me using the right-column of the page. I will underline words and phrases, and attempt to decipher the linguistic tools hidden there: personification, parallelism, and pathetic fallacies are some of Shakespeare’s favourite tools. I will often use my mental taxonomy of synonyms to further attempt to decipher codes in Shakespeare’s text. Moving from one word: “Proud”, to another: “Confident”, in order to delve deeper into the meanings of words. For students of Shakespeare know that there are multiple meanings to a single word.

A useful skill I have applied as a student of Shakespeare is practice. Reading and the repetition of reading the same lines may sound tedious, but upon each reading, there is something new to discover. By reading multiple works by Shakespeare, as a reader I also begin to see patterns in Shakespeare’s style from one play to the next.

Over the course of my youthful education, I have found myself to inadvertently reflect Shakespeare’s poetic style in my own free writing. I believe that by practicing Shakespeare’s style in our own literary reflections, one can become more attuned to interpreting Shakespeare himself.

As I read through a single play in particular, the text becomes decipherable with more ease. The prologues throughout Shakespeare’s Henry V, are consistent in reminding the audience to use their imagination to counter the limitations of the stage. As a reader, when I imagine the characters, the locations, and the emotion of the words, I can paint a more accurate picture with Shakespeare’s metaphors. This is a tool most helpful not only as a reader of Shakespeare, but for my interpretation of any other literary work.

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When taking notes of a film, I will use lined paper and write in point form. I make note of the storyline, and the narrative that unfolds on the screen. I find that when one’s pen is on paper, fluidity of ideas become rampant, and it is easier to elaborate the images on the screen to relatable topics in one’s mind. I think as far as adaptations of Shakespeare are concerned, it is best to have seen at least two adaptations of the same play in order to better analyze it. In my review of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet (1996), I found it useful to have also seen Zeffirelli’s 1968 adaptation of the same play. I used the contrasting interpretations of the same work to better evaluate, specifically, Luhrmann’s rendition.

If I am comparing ideas of two directors, I will also consider how I might have directed an adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. I have found it useful not only to interpret Shakespeare, but to try to interpret our own perception of his work.

 

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.

Natasha King: Scene Comparison | Zeffirelli vs Shakespeare | Hamlet

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One of the most obvious differences between Zeffirelli’s Hamlet and the original play is that the opening scene at the guard tower is entirely omitted in the film. I can understand why he did this, since it wasn’t entirely necessary to have multiple scenes with the ghost being encountered. Instead the film skipped the first ghost sighting , to Hamlet being told of the events and then going to the watchtowers himself. By doing this Zeffirell was able to cut down the length of the film while still including the scene that is the catalyst in which Hamlet decides to prove the murder of his father and seek out revenge on his Uncle.

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Instead it begins with an original scene of Claudius, Gertrude and Hamlet are mourning the old King’s death at a funeral. In this scene Claudius’ speech only briefly tells Hamlet to consider him his father. In the same scene in which Gertrude is bent over her late husband’s body, she looks up to Claudius, which seems quite striking. I believe Zeffirelli’s intention was to emphasize how she is already moving onto her new husband-to-be. It is not until a different scene in which Claudius addresses his court to announce the bittersweet news that he has married his former sister-in-law.

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The next scene contains Hamlets famous line “a little more than kin and less than kind,” however in the film Hamlet says this directly to Claudius as opposed to saying it quietly to himself. This is something that continues to occur in the film, in which Hamlet is much more bold when it comes to sharing is quips and sarcastic remarks.

One of the aspects of the play that Zeffirelli maintained was Hamlet’s monologue in which he shares his absolute shock that his father has only recently died and his mother is already remarried. The line “frailty, thy name is women” is carried over into this scene. Something I noticed about Zeffirelli’s version is that he maintains the well-known lines.

Opposite to this, something that I was not a fan of was the fact that Fortinbras was hardly mentioned at all. One of the things Shakespeare liked to do was talk about current events in his play, or at least create politic events in order to have a subplot. However by omitting this in the film it almost made the film seem boring to me, not to mention it makes the ending of the film seem rather anticlimactic. One of the most important parts of the entire play was the ending, in which everyone has died and now the kingdom faces an impending attack.

To go back to the humour I mentioned, I really enjoyed the film scene in which Polonius and Hamlet are talking in the library. While in the play, Hamlets response to Polonius’ question about what he is reading is simply “words, words, words,” the film adds more depth. This line can be interpreted in different ways depending on who is reading it, but I truly appreciated the way that Gibson presents it. Each time, he says “words” with a different tone. The first time he seems to ask himself what he’s looking at, and then he confirms that it is, in fact, words and the third time, he loudly informs Polonius of this. By doing this it is apparent of Hamlet’s distaste of Polonius and his lack of caution by answering in this way. He makes it obvious that he’s talking down to Polonius. Another part about this scene that I liked was Zeffirelli’s choice to have Hamlet sitting up above Polonius, to reaffirm the differences between the two men.

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While Gibson played an excellent Hamlet, I was not entirely impressed with the scene in which he kills Polonius. Although the acting itself is good, he doesn’t really seem to be bothered by it at all, by doing this Hamlet appears to no longer be sane, which in the play is something the audience is constantly trying to figure out: is he actually crazy, or is he just pretending so everyone will drop their guard around him?

Zeffirelli did an excellent job of adapting the play into a film by modernizing the language, and cutting the long soliloquys and speeches to shorten the film. He added in bits of humour to ensure entertainment and to keep a more positive attitude throughout. Overall he made sure that even people who aren’t huge fans of Shakespeare could enjoy it and experience it in some way.

With that being said, for Shakespeare fans, he may have left them disappointed with the number of changes made to the story line. What some people may have considered unimportant or monotonous, Shakespeare fans would have looked forward to only to finish the film lacking the experience they would have hoped for.

Pavneet Pahwa: Scene Comparison

I have chosen to compare Act 2 Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet (RJ) directed by Franco Zeffirelli (1968) and by Baz Luhrmann (1996). Zeffirelli’s version is more conservative, conventional, and true to the text. RJ 1996 on the other hand, is a modern adaptation of the same. While both films draw inspiration from the same text in terms of plot, dialogues and themes, their interpretation of the circumstances and the characters is varied.

Zeffirelli (1968) on left Lurhmann (1996) on right

Left (1968); Right (1996)

The characters’ appearance in RJ 1968 is very authentic and historically-correct. The puffy gowns, veils and hairstyles sweep the audience into a different era, and are likely truer to what Shakespeare would have envisioned. Hussey (Juliet in this version) is a baby-faced, wide-eyed girl who looks very young. This is consistent with the 16th-century setting of the film where marriages occurred at a tender age. Danes (Juliet in RJ 1996), on the contrary, looks older and wiser in comparison. While still dressed appropriately for their roles, the costumes of the characters are significantly less elaborate and more modern—compatible with Lurhmann’s contemporary setting, enriched with technology such as cars, cameras, etc.

Zeffirelli (1968) on top; Lurhmann (1996) at bottom

Top (1968); Right (1996)

The lines, “What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot…” are a part of both versions of RJ. Hussey is hopeful and dreamy about renouncing their names to be together while Danes seems to reason with reality. She even gives the words “any other part/ Of a man,” a playful twist, hinting at male anatomy, which is more acceptable for her character and the time. In the text, Juliet talks to Romeo about coming across as easy: “…if thou think’st I am too quickly won,/ I’ll frown and be perverse and say thee nay…” These line are present in RJ 1968, and add to the portrayal of an innocent Juliet who does not want to play hard-to-get like other girls. On the contrary, saying such a thing would not be true to Lurhmann’s feistier Juliet and is hence omitted. This difference of character is also seen in the way both the Juliet’s report to their mother in the play—one is very obedient while the other’s tone suggests that she is the mistress of her own will.

Zeffirelli (1968) on right; Lurhmann (1996) on left

Left (1968); Right (1996)

While Zeffirelli’s RJ is more theatrical and dramatic, Lurhmann’s depict a more realistic version of young love. Romeo and Juliet (1968) come across as innocent, humble and flawless souls—almost verging on being surreal. Their 1996 versions however, are deliberately portrayed as immature teenagers. The line, “Therefore thy kinsmen are no let to me,” is said loudly by Romeo in both films. Leonard Whiting says it out of passionate love while DiCaprio’s interpretation of it is more rebellious. He stands taller and shouts into the distance, intending for “the kins” to hear his words, knowing full well, the dangers of being a Montague on Capulet property. A similar sense of carelessness is seen when DiCaprio climbs the walls and creates a lot of ruckus and noise as opposed to Whiting, whose entry and climbing are a lot quieter and controlled.

3:45-4:00 (Zeffirelli, 1968)

The intimacy between Romeo and Juliet is more physical and abundant in Lurhmann’s version. Low angle shots of Juliet being admired by Romeo from a distance are soon followed by Juliet coming down to the garden where Romeo sneaks up from behind her. The garden, lighting and pool add to the sensuality of the scene. The lack of sound maintains focus on the conversation while adding to the realism of the film. Romantic, harmonious music then plays and gradually gains intensity alongside the scene as the couple makes promises. Physical interaction between the lovers is limited in Zeffirelli’s RJ, and rightly so, in synchrony with the conservative atmosphere of the era. Their proximity is also physically limited by a thick balcony railing. The use of mid and eye-level camera angles in this film is basic and non-impactful. Romantic music plays in the beginning when Romeo admires Juliet secretly, stops when they are talking, and then resumes when they make promises. This use of classic dramatic music adds to the theatrical air of RJ 1968.

0:00-0:37 Lurhmann, 1996

In conclusion, both films are a tribute to Shakespeare, and prove yet again, that his plays can be film material after all. While both of these versions of RJ have their own place in cinema, I think that Lurhmann’s take on it is more unique and does a better job of drawing in the audience. The realistic modern-day interpretation of the same themes makes the film more relatable and impactful for me.