Reader's & Writer's Notebook: Viewer's Response
Sample Viewer's Responses
Entry Date: September 4, 2017
Focus: Moby Dick (1998 film adaptation)
The first half hour of this film, has given me a much better idea of who the characters are - especially Queequeg.- than Melville's words ever could. Queequeg seems less strange and more clearly a hero - a warrior- who is also Ishmael's best friend- even though the music which introduced Queequeg seemed to convey a foreboding Pacific islands/warrior theme.
It seems as though this was filmed on location - could it have been Nantucket? This is interesting since I'm wondering how the whales will be depicted. It's still too early in the film to have covered much more than the very beginning of the journey. So far, it has been very close to the most important parts of the novel and left out the long parts where Melville goes on a long "riff" about the color white or the many uses of whale oil.
I also have a better sense of the time period and the size of the ship. It seemed much larger in my imagination. Seeing how it's depicted in the film makes me wonder about the actual size of whaleships. I'll have to visit the link for the New Bedford Whaling Museum again and look into the details of whaling ships. Tomorrow, I'll watch the next 30 minutes. I'm interested to see how Ahab is depcited and whether or not it matches the Ahab I have come to know as a reader.
What is a viewer's response to film?
A viewer's response to film is a critical thinking tool which offers a student viewing a film the opportunity to:
develop visual literacy
articulate and develop an understanding of the text of a film
As you view a film and respond to prompts, consider how you would answer the following questions.
What kinds of images are you seeing? Are they soft and glowing with warmth or harsh and sharp?
Does the camera move slowly from left to right or does it jump quickly?
Does the film "feel" fast paced or relaxed?
What are the scene transitions like? Does the film fade to black between "chapters"?
What's the soundtrack like? Could it be identified with an era?
Are themes repeated like the bass "da-dum da-dum da-dum dum dum da-dum da-dum da-dum" in Jaws? When and why is a theme repeated?
Who are the main characters?
What's the primary conflict? How is it resolved?
Are there any sub-plots?
What's the overall theme?
Watching a film adaptation of a novel? Consider these questions:
Are characters/scenes missing or added?
Is the sequence of events the same as the novel?
Is the ending the same?
Is the overall message the same?
Do the actors interpret the characters in the same way you envisioned the characters when you read the book?How are they different than you imagined? How are they the same?
Watching a documentary? Consider these questions:
What is the main focus of this film?
What is the thesis of this film? What is it trying to prove or persuade the audience to believe?
What is the supporting evidence? How does the film prove the truth of the thesis?
Entry Date: September 5, 2017
Focus: Moby Dick (1998 film adaptation)
Prompt/Response # 1:
Respond to one of the following questions. As you answer each question, follow your ideas, wherever they lead, until you have filled approximately 10 lines or more.
• At this point in the film, what have viewers learned about Ahab's personal life and how does this differ from the novel?
• Which aspects of the film have added to your understanding of the novel? Why?
I was surprised to see Ahab's wife and son. I didn't remember this from the novel outside of his mentioning of his son to Starbuck near the climax of the novel. I'm wondering if the film version will create more of a backstory for Ahab as a family man. Will this result in an attempt to humanize Ahab. I'm also wondering if this was a creative choice made by the directors or screenwriters who have adapted the novel.
I know that there's a Gregory Peck film version of
Moby Dick. I haven't seen it yet and I'm sure the technology is limited since it's an older film. Even so, it would be interesting to compare Peck's interpretation of Ahab with Patrick Stewart's interpretation. Perhaps, as a reader, I was too quick to place Ahab in a box and keep him as more of a two dimensional character. I wanted to see him as insane and evil. I didn't want to acknowledge that there might be more to his story and his life. This also makes me want to revisit the novel - or at least my response to Ahab. Do I do this for many characters as I read - place them in boxes and add a label? How is that shaping my ability to interpret literature whether in film or written form?