Team C: Team Project

When considering what aspects of Shakespeare’s King Henry V we wanted to portray in film, we asked ourselves: what must Katherine have felt when she was told she was to meet King Henry and marry him? She might have been happy and indifferent, or upset and dismayed about her situation. We focused on the opposite reactions Katherine may have displayed and how they would be portrayed in film. Lines from within the Chorus and Scene 3 of Act 3, and Scene 2 from Act 5 were used.

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To tell the difference between our film adaptations, we used our acting, costumes, editing, and music to best portray Katherine’s emotions. When acting happy, she reacted indifferently, with a smile towards what others had to say. When acting unhappy, she would show despair and sadness. Our costumes also reflected Katherine’s conflicting emotions by using a white dress for her wedding when she was happy, and a black dress with a veil covering her face for her wedding when she was not pleased.

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We used a green screen to best recreate the Renaissance times. None of us having made a large film before, we learned a lot about good lighting and creative camera angles. In order to make the green screen work it took us over an hour just to construct our set for the best possible shots! We also used filtering techniques of light and dark to pander to Katherine’s emotions in both adaptations. To finish off our editing, we used different styles of classical music in each adaptation to match the emotions of Katherine, using more uplifting and spirited songs when Katherine was happy, and slower and darker toned songs when Katherine was unhappy.

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All-in-all, Team C was a great success!

Daniel Leong: Notes Reflection

As a result of being a quick thinker, a visual learner, and generally forgetful person, I much prefer electronic note taking when watching films, but find colored pens to be invaluable when analyzing text. I also find it beneficial to assume that everything done in a film or text is entirely intentional and, as though I were interviewing the director/author, I often ask myself: “What does this mean, and why is this way?”

This kind of thinking does limit my ability to take notes on film somewhat, as there is simply too much information about music, lighting, angles and shots for me to question and write about while viewing. For this reason, I often choose to focus primarily on choices pertaining to music and lighting as (Owing to my background in orchestra and video advertising) they are the simplest for me to understand. In terms of what I actually write down, I find that because of my forgetful but thorough nature it’s often in my best interest to write down words or phrases that help me remember what I was thinking at the time of viewing, rather than writing down exactly what I’m thinking. For example, with regards to music, while viewing the Crispin’s Day speech of Branagh’s Henry V I might write something along the lines of:

  • High diss shots +tymp = fear (Odds–)
  • Henry! low chord+add inst. + cresc chords=hope(Voice++)

As opposed to writing out:

  • The director chose dissonant shots from the high strings coupled with the steady tympani beat to indicate grim prospects for Henry’s soldiers.
  • When King Henry appears, the music switches from shots to major chords from the low strings. Their crescendo, coupled with the addition of many more instruments is matched by the volume of Henry’s voice and gives a hopeful, inspiring tone to the rest of his speech.

The fault in this method of note taking is that it is entirely dependent on my ability to recall what I was thinking. That being said, I find that though I’m occasionally unable to recollect my initial thought process, taking these kinds of notes gives me the opportunity to pay closer attention to the structure of scenes/sequences as a whole and how the elements I focus on (Music and lighting) fit into the larger picture. I know I’ve taken good notes when I look at them at home and remember instantly what I was seeing and why I thought what I thought.

 

Of course, no such problem of forgetting exists with text, as I can read and re-read to my heart’s content. With regards to note-taking, I often prefer to reformat and print out my own versions of passages so as to have ample room for annotation using colored pens. I’ve tried highlighters in the past, however, since I ask myself both “What does this mean?” and also “Why is it this way?” when reading, I find colored pens to be better for allowing me to precisely articulate my thoughts on specific words or phrases.

As a result of this method of thinking, I primarily look for meaning in specific diction, word connotations, and consonance/assonance as I find that the choice of words and how they sound are often the building blocks for the larger meanings of passages. Using the same example of the Crispin’s Day speech, I would underline every word pertaining to the idea of fellowship or brotherhood in blue, circle every example of alliteration in orange, every repetition of “Crispin” or “Crispian” in green, every word pertaining to ideas of battle in red and every word pertaining to ideas of remembrance in purple. Any thoughts I have regarding any of these themes I could then write down in their respective color and immediately connect them tangibly to the text. Having a general understanding of a particular play’s themes as a whole then enables me to quickly categorize and assign meanings to the specific use of these words/literary devices.

This does mean, of course, that I sometimes miss out on literary devices such as allusion, foreshadowing, metaphor, personification, etc. However, if the themes of the overall play are consistent throughout, I hardly think that a thorough analysis of diction will cause me to miss out on significant meaning coming from another literary device when considering plays as a whole.

Overall, my strategy of note taking hasn’t evolved much with respect to text since high school, however, the film-focus of this course has allowed for significant development in my note-taking for film.

Samuel Martyn: Notes Reflection

My notes are awful. They are sparse and happen relatively infrequently. Particularly for reading a play or watching film. They are nondescript for the most part. If anyone aside from me was to look at my notes, they would not gain much, if anything at all.

Most of my annotation when it comes to going through the text of a play, does not consist of writing words between the lines or in the margins. I circle, highlight, and underline words or phrases of significance. I usually read the scene/passage out loud, and make these annotations during or after. This is so I can gauge the emotion, flow, and emphasis of the passage. The few words I write in are only to describe the emotion or tone of the speaker.

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The reason for my style of note-taking (or lack thereof) is that once I read or hear the text a couple of times through, I can process it quite easily. I also find it more beneficial to return and re-read the entire passage to remember or understand the text than to try and interpret what the annotation I wrote in at a prior time means. Following a single story-line with the same characters throughout the text, I can very easily process and engage in what is happening without taking many notes.

This sentiment is even further experienced when I watch a film. I rarely take notes while watching film. By actively pairing the narrative with faces and voices, and literally having the text played out in front of my eyes, I almost immediately process and internalize what is happening. Film is my favourite medium (aside from music) for the sole fact that I can recall its information so quickly and accurately. The only time I will write down a note from a film is when there is a line that I want to remember, or a song on the soundtrack that I want to download at a later time.

The only other time in which I will write something down while watching a film or reading a play text, is when I want to be looking for categorical or symbolic representations within the medium. However, these will not be specific things I write down, it will be more like “watch for: lighting shifts, change in tone, music”, etc. I do this instead of in depth, specific notes, because I want to be engaged with the text medium itself, rather than try to keep up with both note taking and observation and then end up missing something significant within the text.

My notes are typically not successful in the sense that they should be. When I do annotations, I typically look back a few days later and have absolutely no idea what it means. When it comes to the final exam however, I do realize that this choice of extremely limited annotation may cause some issues for me. I take notes in my history classes, when there are not necessarily story lines or narratives, or consistent characters that make the material a linear, thematic text. Annotations done on my part do not help me comprehend English literature any better.

My notes may come across as “insufficient” to others or, it may seem as if I am not engaging in the text, but that could not be farther from the truth. Notes are just not how I find I can actively engage the text.

Marisol Calzada: Notes Reflection

Note taking for me has always been fairly difficult. In grade school I always struggled with finding a note taking style that worked for me; I remember using a different style of note taking every month along with different pens, highlighters, tabs, etc. Nothing seemed to work until I got into university. University courses made me realize that not only am I a visual learner, but I learn and remember best through repetition.

For me note taking had been very traditional, using a notebook and a pen; recently I started taking notes on my iPad Pro and it’s been working so well for me because I can split the screen between my note taking app and other resources I’m using. In this class I have found that my note taking has changed throughout the semester. At first I would write down everything that was on the powerpoint slides shown in class, and as the course progressed I learned how to decipher the notes and jot down the most important points presented.

Annotating on an iPad

Taking notes while reading a Shakespeare play-text is a little more challenging for me. I can’t read the text like I normally would a book and that frustrates me. I have to break the text down into sections – usually by the characters dialogue. After I break the text down, I read it “normally” the first time and then again a second time trying to understand the overall meaning of the passage. After I grasped the vague understanding of the passage, I like to paraphrase in regular English. Then I go line by line highlighting-underlining anything I believe is important to the passage. I start by mapping out the rhythm of the lines, and then I start circling ”hidden” things like alliterations, assonances, repetitions, etc. or other writing techniques Shakespeare has used. This type of reading takes me a long time because I feel like Shakespeare’s writing has a lot of hidden elements that require more than just imagination and literacy. By the time I am done with the passage, there are circles, lines, arrows, and writing all over it. For some it may seem like there is an excess of writing on it, but like I previously mentioned, I’m a visual learner and all the writing helps me keep my ideas and thoughts organized.

Taking notes on a film is a very different experience for me. Like most people, when I watch a movie I want to enjoy it rather than take notes on it; but on the occasion that I have to write annotations I start by reading a synopsis of the movie so I know what the general plot is about. When it comes to Shakespeare storylines in films, I like to understand how the characters are connected to each other; this helps to understand the plot. I tend to pay too much attention to the film and forget to write notes, so I make “mental notes” about scenes that I believe are important. The music in the movie helps me determine which scenes are more important than others because music guides our emotions. After I watch the movie and I have a good understanding of the plot, I can go back and find a specific scene and pause/rewind it if I need to analyze it a bit more.

If I ever need to compare a play-text and a film of the play, I always start by annotating the play-text first and then I will watch the movie. By annotating the play-text first, I am able to dissect the meaning of the texts while imagining the story line in my head. I believe that’s what helps me decipher the differences the director makes in the film because I have already created “a film” of my own in my head and if it doesn’t match up then the differences stick out to me.

I know my annotations have been successful if I can paraphrase the play-text/film to another person, or if I can have an in-depth discussion about the play-text/film. I believe more times out of none, my play-text annotations are more successful because I have the ability to reread and “marinate” my brain in the words that are right in front of me, which give me the liberty to go at my own pace. Film annotations are more difficult because the pace of the story-line is much faster and frequently pausing the film can take away from the experience the director intended his audience to have.

Katarina Nedeljakova: Argument Reflection

Until I started taking university level English classes, I never truly appreciated the art of annotating text and more broadly, note taking as a whole. As a child, I have always been told that books were to be read and not written in. However, as I started reading more texts, mostly those considered “difficult” (such as Shakespeare), it became increasingly harder to keep my thoughts in my head. Slowly, my thought process spilled from the comfort of my own brain to notebooks and finally the text itself. Looking back, it seems impossible that my essays on literature were of even a satisfactory quality without the intricate analyzing methods I use now.

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The approach which I take when reading/annotating literature usually begins with reading the text as a whole or quickly skimming the passage I am analyzing. At this time I make sure to scribble down anything that jumps out at me, then re-read the passage of interest again, slowly and deliberately. If I am preparing to write on a specific topic, I jot down the question or statement I am arguing somewhere on the page, so it is always in the back of my head when reading that passage. An example of my annotating skills was this past close reading of Henry V. I began by quickly reading the passage, paying more attention to the tone of the text than the words themselves. I drew sloppy lines across the page when I felt changes in mood. I made sure to reread the text frequently, when I had a couple minutes before classes or before bed and every time I did, something subtle jumped out at me. By this time, when I sat down to write the paper a few days later, I had a general idea of how I felt about this text and the points I wanted to analyze.

I reread the passage, this time slowly and deliberately. I usually analyze the text in the sections that I previously marked as having a shift in tone. At this point I pay special attention to the literary devices used, the rhythm of the text, and any references (cultural or other) that have been made. Now my annotating moves from the margins to the printing instead, and involves lots of circling and underlining as well as reading out loud. It is also of great help, mostly when analyzing plays, to listen to someone else reading the passage of interest out loud. This helps me catch any structural patterns I might have missed, and more often than not clarifies why a certain choice of words was used in the text. At this point, I also make sure to look any words I might not understand or any references that jumped out at me (this often leads to hours spent on Wikipedia reading up on history). I know I successfully annotated a text when I can easily write about it. If I sit down to write an essay and I have no clue what I am doing, I know I need to go back and analyze the text more. On the other hand, when I sit down and can easily write a decent paper, I know it is due to the meticulous process of reading, jotting down notes, and re-reading.

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By annotating the text, I feel like my writing has become a lot more concise and focused. I no longer feel the need to ramble on for pages. This is now done on my text and the paper is much neater and legible, with the book holding all the “behind the scenes” writing.

When it comes to taking notes on something that is not on paper, I usually have a much harder time. When viewing films, I try to watch the movie as a whole, once again making note of anything that jumps out at me, and then re-watching it. The second time around, I pause at certain scenes and replay clips that I find to be of interest. This is a rather time consuming process, and is usually more practical being done in one sitting. However, I have very little experience annotating film outside English 311 and have not yet mastered a system for doing this efficiently. As of now it consists of jumping back and forth trying to take note of anything I find particularly important, ranging anywhere from the visual choices the director makes to the way the script was written and acted out.

 

 

 

Samuel Martyn: Film Review

Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V (1989) is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play of the same name. I feel as though the film, through methods unavailable in a theatrical performance, was able to produce more subtleties and evoke emotion that a live stage performance would not be able to. These factors, I believe make the film not only an effective interpretation of the text, but also a more palatable version at that.

I found the way in which the Chorus (played by Derek Jacobi) is presented in this adaptation is very intriguing, particularly in the prologue. The Chorus – no doubt through the text itself – is supposed to break the fourth wall, but the prologue is removed completely from the world that the narrative takes place within. This first scene is placed on a movie set, with cameras and other equipment in full view of the audience, so as to give the impression that the Chorus is, while later appearing in the actual scenes of the narrative, a type of modern-day tour guide through the jungle that is medieval Europe. henry-v-prologue

The Chorus is also seen wearing modern clothes, while all the other players are seen to be wearing clothes appropriate to the medieval period of the narrative. This helps once again show the Chorus as a separate entity, our tour guide through the film. It seems as though Branagh has the Chorus conducting a type of documentary, which to me appears quite unique in a beneficial way, as it gives a sense of realness to the history.

Act 1 Scene 1 as it is performed in the film, allows the audience to experience the dialogue between the two Bishops in a way that a stage performance in a theatre could not. The shadowy lighting and the camera angles allow for close up and extreme close up shots to give a feeling of intimacy in the conversation between the two men. It allows for us to see the expressions of scheming and secrecy on the faces of the Bishops. henry-v-act-1-scene-1

This scene however not only allows the audience to feel these effects through camera angles, but through the dialogue itself as well. The two Bishops through this scene speak very quietly, sometimes even whispering. This effectively creates a feeling that this conversation is surreptitious in nature. In a theatre environment, these techniques would not be able to be employed, and I believe that their use in this film are effective and beneficial in the portrayal of Shakespeare’s text.

Another factor that helps drive along the narrative within the film is Branagh’s use of flashbacks to Henry V’s past. One in particular is the flashback to a conversation between Sir John Falstaff (Robbie Coltrane) and Henry (Branagh) before he became king. “No, my good lord, banish Peto, banish Bardolph, banish Poins, but for sweet Jack Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff, valiant Jack Falstaff, and therefore more valiant being, as he is old Jack Falstaff, banish not him thy Harry’s company, banish not him thy Harry’s company. Banish plump Jack, and banish all the world.” This dialogue appears nowhere in the original text of this play, but is drawn from Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1 (Act 2, Scene 4). These flashbacks, while from a different play, allow the audience to see into the past life of Henry, an effect that the original text does not necessarily provide. Branagh uses this as a tool to portray a conflicted Henry, who is turning his back on his former life. It also shows how his ascension to the position of king and the abandoning of his old friends affected them as well.

 

Branagh’s 1989 adaptation appears to be an effective, fluid, evocative interpretation of Shakespeare’s work. The film allows for an intimate view of the characters, as Branagh’s use of closeups and extreme closeups allow us to see more emotion and characteristics of the players, which is not an option in a theatrical performance. His use of the Chorus as a modern tour guide, leading us into and through the medieval period bridges a gap between our two eras, allowing us to see the film as a type of documentary. Finally, Branagh’s use of material from Henry IV Part 1 to show flashbacks to Henry’s past life allow the audience to see his emotional ties to those from his past and the conflict that arises not only within himself, but his old friends, which gives a more humanized, emotional interpretation of the text.

Note Reflection

By Amanda Faller

Over my years in school, I have experimented with many ways to take notes, even using methods such as the Cornell system (link). However, time and again I always come back to the plain and simple lined notebook and just write what I think is important out. For films I write frantically trying to keep my eye on the screen, however you can see a distinct difference in my close-reading notes.

Close Reading Notes

Close Reading Notes – Brain Dump on Page Right

For my close reading I decided to use two different pen colours to help my eye stay focused. I used black ink to paraphrase the speech in my own words. In green ink I took phrases and words I was unfamiliar with and defined them as they appeared in the speech. I gave the black ink to the paraphrasing so it would stand out and I could read it easily.

Then, in the margins I divided the notes into parts with brackets and labels of “part 1” and so on. I underlined the important phrases at each part beginning to bring attention to them so I could later form an argument around it.

For phrases that stood out to me for their symbolism or function, I also wrote in the margins, such as “simile” “pun?”, “metaphor” and “summary”. Breaking the speech into parts let my mind focus on one section at a time without becoming distracted or off topic by the surrounding lines.

Then on the next page I “brain dumped” my opinions, observations and arguments in preparation for my essay. Overall, I think this system of note taking was very effective for myself, and helped me fully understand the speech and get the best grade I could for me. I especially like the colour coding, as it’s visually nice as well as functional.

While I was creating these notes I had my computer open with OED and my book of Henry V. Although some people think books are to use and abuse, I love a fresh, clean book with perfectly flat pages so I stay away from marking my books.

Film Review Notes

Film Review Notes

I also wrote a review on Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann. For this, I had the film going and my notebook open. These are the messiest notes I have because the film is so fast paced. Sometimes I would rewind the film and watch back something if I missed a detail. For each new point I drew a dash to help me later see the order of things so it wasn’t just a blob of words. Some of these notes have no real meaning however they helped recall certain ideas or visuals when I wrote my review. I found myself writing down small details such as “editing quickens” and “shadow over face”. Those were the details I decided to go with for the film review. They helped me dig deeper into the filmic choices of the director rather than more obvious things (such as “gun instead of dagger”).

In the margins I have arrows and brackets to connect separate ideas to help me find patterns or even to just elaborate on a thought.

For some concepts, instead of describing them in words, I found it quicker to jot a small doodle of what I meant. On the second page I drew out a frame composition I found striking as well as Juliet’s eyes later on in the frame

Interesting frame composition sketches

Interesting frame composition sketches

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Slowly my writing becomes more illegible as I was seeing more interesting things to take note of. For this particular note set I decided to just jot ideas to help me remember later. In fact, I hardly used these notes while writing my review because I did it right after watching the film and my thoughts were still fresh. Perhaps if I wrote it another day these notes would become more meaningless as they are vague and messy. This note style is, I think, appropriate for watching a film, and they also helped me quite a bit in getting the best mark I personally could.
In my opinion it would be impossible to do the same note style for a close reading and a film review. However each note styles have their pros and cons. For example, the close reading notes are very clear and organized, yet lots of the actual “arguments” came only when I “brain dumped” later on. No real ideas or arguments came in the beginning stages of these notes. The opposite can be said for the film review notes. They are unorganized (other than chronologically) and are made purely of ideas and arguments. I am glad I have experimented earlier in my life with different note taking habits to help me today in finding the best way to do it for different situations.