Jordin Cummings: Notes Reflection

In order to properly evaluate my annotation practices when reading a play text, I decided to do what I did for my close reading paper but with Act IV Scene I of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

In comparison to the start of the semester my note taking skills have greatly evolved. I am no longer afraid to write little notes anywhere in the book. On the other-hand, larger notes still belong on sticky pads! I have greatly expanded my knowledge of various poetic terms and elements and that has made it easier to really breakdown the text. In only 128 lines of play text I was able to identify the blank verse and iambic pentameter rhythm along with multiple structural, linguistic and semantic terms.

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Annotating Play Text 

My note taking process is very methodical and almost always follows the same routine in regards to an assignment.

  • Step One: Write out the basics. What is the assignment? What are the texts? What is the question?
  • Step Two: Have you read the text? No? Read it.
  • Step Three: What are your general thoughts on the text?
  • Step Four: Close read the text in relation to the question. Annotated. Highlight things to be defined.
  • Step Five: Expand your annotated notes; what are your thoughts now? Write out definitions.

After all of that my notes are very comprehensive. I know they are successful because when I go to complete an assignment everything is clearly laid out for me. If I effectively teach the material back to someone or try to explain my discovered concept I also know I have absorbed what I took down. In comparison to my practices for a play text, my annotation skills when I watch a film are not as formulated.

To properly evaluate my annotation practices for a film I chose the 2013 Carlei Romeo & Juliet as I have never seen it before. I chose to focus on a specific section, what would be Act IV Scene I in the play text. I chose this portion of the movie because the first thing I would do when annotating a film on Shakespeare would be to read the text first so I can get a sense of where I am at in the real story. This was especially helpful as this version of Romeo and Juliet cuts the whole interaction with Paris. After reading the text I would watch the movie. Just watch; no annotating. I want to be able to just watch without searching in the same way I would read a text to get a feel for it first.

After reading the text and watching the film I would make notes on the basics of the film. What did I watch? How is it different from the text? Then I can try watching it again with more attention to detail. The unfortunate thing with annotating a film is that the film moves at a continuous pace whereas annotating does not. I find myself pausing an going back just so I can catch something and write it down. Annotating a film definitely takes a lot longer!

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Annotating Film

In almost 5 minutes of film and one scene I was able to closely review and really get a feel for the directors take on this play. I found the best way to identify key elements Carlei used in his film was to pause when I saw something of interest, take note of the time, and then make a simple note to clue me into what I had found. I know this way of annotating a film works for me because if I needed to explain the film to someone I would have seen it many times in close detail. I also know this way works because if I needed to further expand my notes or write a paper on the film I would have detailed annotations with timestamps for quick reference. It would be very easy to apply terms such as Samuel Crowl’s in Shakespeare and Film to the ideas I’d found.

Although my practices of annotation have greatly evolved in regards to both film and play text, I have realized through this reflection that I definitely prefer to annotate a text!

 

Works Cited

Crowl, Samuel. Shakespeare and Film. Norton, 2007.

Romeo & Juliet. Directed by Carlo Carlei, performances by Hailee Steinfield and Paul Giamatti, D Films, 2013, 1:15:20-1:19:52.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Folger Digital Texts, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine, Folger Shakespeare Library, pp. 92-96, http://www.folgerdigitaltexts.org/download/pdf/Rom.pdf, Accessed 14 Nov. 2016.

 

Jordin Cummings: Film Review

In this fantastical version of “Romeo + Juliet” Baz Luhrmann keeps the text almost exact but sets the movie in a version of modern days. It is a version of modern days due to the weird mix up Luhrmann has going on. There is slo-motion, increases in time, weird outfits for the Montagues, plus an introduction to a crazy party with pressed pills. This blog post will discuss how Luhrmann adapts the visuals to the text to create a very interesting take on “Romeo and Juliet”.

In Act II Scene II, Luhrmann chooses to shoot the balcony scene in a pool-house. Luhrmann cuts a lot of text in this scene and instead shoots a close up kissing scene with uplifting music. This creates a more sexually charged atmosphere due to the lack of talking and added silky touching. It is clear these teens share a higher level of intimacy even though they just met at a party for what basically amounts to ‘7 minutes in heaven’ but in an elevator. Leonardo DiCaprio shows his take on Romeo as headstrong and carefree when he goes about shouting lines even though they could get caught. Luhrmann gives a true ode to Shakespeare when Claire Danes, Juliet, goes back up to her balcony and DiCaprio climbs the trellis to give her a final kiss.

Nurse in Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” is presented as much more personable and definite comic relief. Moving away from the orchard in Act II Scene V of Shakespeare, Luhrmann chooses to make the setting Nurse’s apartment. This allows the relationship between Juliet and Miriam Margolyes, Nurse, to be presented as far more intimate. Nurse ends up being more of a companion than a keeper. Danes gets right behind Margolyes to give her a massage showing their more personal take on the relationship of these two women. Margolyes is a very comical actor with exaggerated facial expressions and a very stereotypical, overly caring, Latina mama attitude. Margolyes clearly does not believe Nurse to be a prude in any way.

In contrast to Act II, which stays fairly true to Shakespeare’s timeline, Act III has been split up to create more drama around Mercutio’s death. Instead of killing Mercutio right away, DiCaprio spirals out and gets into a game of chicken which causes Tybalt to crash his car. Only after all of this and many shouted and repeated lines does DiCaprio finally shoot Tybalt. This part of the movie is cut with part of what is Act III Scene II in the play where Danes gives a bit of a monologue professing love for Romeo. This interjection of joy makes the shooting of Tybalt by Romeo more intense since Juliet’s love just killed her cousin. The music is biblical and epic or brooding and almost silent making Act III far less comical and considerably more dark than Act II.

In the end I cannot tell if I love or hate this movie. It reminds me of “Idiocracy” crossed with the part in “Back to the Future” where they actually go to the future meets “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. It is definitely weird. Not to mention the use of Shakespeare’s text in a modern setting is also odd. At the same time, Luhrmann manages to stay kind of true to Shakespeare in a really weird way. The use of such young actors and Nurse being so approachable, as well as Friar Laurence being so cool with his huge back tattoo of a cross, adds an appeal to my more contemporary tastes. It is one of those movies you would have to watch at least twice to know how you really feel.

 

Works Cited

Romeo + Juliet. Directed by Baz Luhrmann, performances by Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, and Miriam Margolyes, Twentieth Century Fox, 1996.

Luhrmann, Baz. “Romeo + Juliet (3/5) Movie CLIP – 1,000 Times Goodnight (1996) HD.” Youtube, uploaded by Movieclips, 9 October 2015, youtu.be/Oic7kJRg_F0?t=1m50s.

Act 2, Scene 2; Romeo & Juliet 1968 and 1996

     Romeo and Juliet is truly a classic play written by Shakespeare. That is part of the reason I chose to compare the act 2, scene 2 in the films that were made by Franco Zeffirelli in 1968 and also the newer version of Romeo and Juliet made by Baz Luhrmann in 1996. The other part of the reason I chose to analyze it was because I have seen and read the play. The two scenes obviously have the exact same concept behind them, yet they were executed in two extremely different ways. There are certain styles and details, beyond the very contrasting setting that the two directors chose that set the directors and scenes apart. Zeffirelli uses elaborate and over the top acting in order to portray the scene in a heart wrenching love story type of way. While Luhrmann uses a modern-day touch of comedy and a very eerie water setting to enhance the sense of urgency that is in the air while the two lovebirds meet. Both directors execute act 2 scene 2 fairly well, however Luhrmann transports the classic play to a familiar setting in order to have it relate to a modern-day audience, thus in my opinion he did it right.
    

     The settings of each individual film were very specific. Each setting was pivotal in the rest of the directing decisions. Luhrmann could not have made his film theatrical in the same way that Zeffirelli executed his film with elaborate acting and classical landscapes. This is possibly why Luhrmann chose to have it in a modern-day setting. The Verona beach setting enable the classical play to take on a modern-day touch that would easily relate to people in the 1960’s and also today. During the first part of this scene Leonardo DiCaprio who plays Romeo is seen fumbling over patio furniture and causing a ruckus while attempting to utter his “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun,”(2.2.2-3) line this is only possible because of the choice to have props that tie in with his desired setting of the film. Zeffirelli chose the classical setting that was used to speak to the original context of the play. By having the feuding families and love bird set in the 1300’s the castles and balls and elaborate theater type acting all fits together. When Leonard Whiting is saying the exact same “but soft!” line he is sneaking through the bushes, this creates an entirely different feel for the viewer. The viewer is given a quaint teenage feel that is wrapped in a ‘medieval cloak’.

     Juliet plays a crucial role in this particular scene. Her acting either makes or break the scene. In the movie directed by Zeffirelli, Olivia Hussey who plays Juliet over does the acting. She is so elaborate, awkward and over directed. Her actions are unnatural, she takes unnecessarily long pauses and she looks as if she is forcing her love for Romeo. Hussey’s “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name,”(2.2.33-34) illustrates exactly how there is no girl on this planet who would ever use facial expressions to that extent while talking to herself alone on her balcony no mater how in love she is.

In the movie directed by Luhrmann, although it is more modern, the acting by
Claire Danes is relaxed and natural. She is able to portray her love for Romeo simply by whispering the exact same “O Romeo” line and all the while keeping her body language calm.

The acting plays an enormous role in the film and the acting by Claire Danes was simply superior.

     Both of the directors generate emotions from their respective takes on this particular scene. Luhrmann’s seamlessly humorous pool scene ties in the Verona beach star-crossed lovers idea perfectly, while on the other hand, Zeffirelli’s 1300’s overprocessed backyard teenage love scene over plays the importance of the feelings and urgency, thus ruining it.
Reilly Kruger

Works Cited and Sources:

Zeffrelli Romeo and juliet 1968— https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0qao2xINsE&feature=youtu.be
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwWsAUpr9eM
1996 Romeo and Juliet viewed on www.moviesub.net/romeo-juliet-1996/2212.html

Luhrmann 1996
William Shakespeare’s Romeo Juliet. Dir. Baz Luhrmann. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 1996. Web.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ickdnrr9esU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD5Kl0VvhOo
Shakespeare Text 
http://www.themodernshakespeare.com/home/romeoandjuliettranslation/act2scene2

A Scene Comparison: Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 2

Romeo and Juliet, Act 2 Scene 2 is the most memorable and pivotal scene in the play and I have chosen to compare the way in which the three most popularized films, Zeffirelli (1968), Luhrmann (1996), and Carlei (2013) have interpreted this moment. This scene involves Romeo risking his life to catch a glance at Juliet when to his luck she appears on her balcony. Despite their families being mortal enemies they confess their mutual love for each other and agree to be married.

Zeffirelli and Carlei take very similar approaches and stay close to the traditional imagery of this scene with Romeo sneaking up to Juliet’s window and immediately seeing her on the balcony. Both directors also chose to play a soft tranquil sound track setting the tone of the scene. However, Zeffirelli provided a more believable encounter having Romeo appear from the cover of the trees to over hear Juliet. Her dialogue mirrors the emotion and tone in her voice and she moves from deep though to infatuation over the thought of Romeo. Carlei on the other hand fails to produce a convincing scene as Romeo walks through a courtyard seemingly in plain view of Juliet only to overhear a disappointingly flat and emotionless performance. Her dialogue is cut rather short but in this case that is probably for the best as there was nothing the gain from listening to her monotone rendition.

Luhrmann takes a very different approach to developing this scene and is by far my favorite of the three. Romeo makes a comical entrance crashing through patio furniture only to gaze into the eyes of the wrong woman while Juliet makes her appearance not on a balcony but on the same patio that Romeo is on. Although the proximity of the two can be measured with a few feet I can accept that Romeo is concealed and find this to enhance the comical aspect, concluding with them falling into the pool. Juliet’s final line before being startled illustrates how each film has adapted this scene: “Romeo, doff thy name, And for that name which is no part of thee Take all myself.”

Carlei’s disappointing delivery.

Zeffirelli’s convincing delivery

Luhrmann’s comical delivery

Zeffirelli and Carlei continue to provide a similar style to the scene having Romeo climb up to the balcony to see Juliet. One having him climb a wall of vines and the other having him climb up a near by tree. In Carlei’s version the modern production gives the scene rich props and backgrounds to please the eye but the acting is very boring and low key. I don’t get the sense that these two people are passionately in love but rather simply two actors reading lines. The only thing that elects any emotion in this scene is the accompanying music that gives a sense of joy and triumph.

Zeffirelli successfully draws the viewer in by having the actors confess their love with only the backdrop of ambient sounds at first, relying completely on the integrity of the acting. These characters are believable because their expressions match their words. If you were to watch both version with mute you would still receive the entire message from Zeffirelli. Once they declare to be married Juliet leaves for a moment allowing Romeo to express his boundless joy by bouncing around on the tree he climbed. Both productions end the scene with the two lovers hands slowly sliding apart as they leave, perhaps Carlei is giving a nod to the previous production.

hands 2 hands1

Luhrmann remains consistent in giving us a completely different interpretation of the scene, having the remainder take place in the water. This choice forces the actors to express themselves with only their heads and hands as the rest of their bodies are submerged under the water. Even with the limitation this version delivers the clearest message in my opinion. Juliet shows hesitation and reservation as Romeo goes in to kiss her at first which adds the allure of Romeo having to chase his love. For much of the scene Juliet is slowly moving away from Romeo forcing him to chase her around the pool, like she is playing “hard to get”. After they declare they will be married Luhrmann continues playing with the comical aspect he has already established by having them fall in to the pool once again. The scene ends with Juliet running up to her balcony but instead of their hands slipping away from each other she drops him a trinket.trinket

Although Zeffirelli and Carlei took very similar approaches to creating this scene I feel Zeffirelli was the one who did it right. Even though the production is over 40 years older he was able to deliver a more genuine scene mainly by having good actors. Luhrmann has a more modern take on the scene and has fun with it, breaking away from the expected and allowing the viewer to relate to the characters and because of that I would award this version as the most successful one.

 

References:

Luhrmann

www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_pfzu-brPM

Zeffirelli

www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTbetu76tS4&list=PLsl2fxRmk3kTQNMk-6_OrOKBJbWsWJwyR&index=7

Carlei

www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK11GlFhUSc