I definitely have to feature a film I saw a few weeks ago. I was blown away! Not only do I still think of the movie, I am doing my own research on the topic it explores. Today, I present Anonymous. I was sad when I realized this film didn’t get proper marketing. I saw the trailer online but never in the cinema. If I had my way, it would have gotten more attention, possibly nominated for something. Roland Emmerich took on the job of directing John Orloff‘s script. Emmerich has directed epic adventures such as Independence Day, The Patriot, and 10,000 BC. Orloff is the genius behind the stories of A Mighty Heart and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.
The story of Anonymous fictionally approaches the Shakespeare authorship question. If you didn’t know, there is a theory that the works under the name William Shakespeare were not written by the man William Shakespeare, authored by someone else. One of the big arguments causing such skepticism is the knowledge needed to produce what is credited to Shakespeare doesn’t match his upbringing and education. Shakespeare was the son of an alderman and glover and his eduction is unknown. There is no record of him stepping foot into a school at any grade level and some say he didn’t even know how to write a single word. Shakespeare was actually an actor suddenly turned writer, y there is no record of when he started writing. Many of Shakespeare’s greatest stories are historical, focusing on Royal lineage, political figures and the government. Not too many were able to acquire such teachings.
I haven’t gotten through all of Shakespeare’s work, yet, what I have read seemed as if I was reading someone’s personal encounter with what was happening. I felt like I was there, watching among others. I believe this is why many think Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, was the true author of such greats as Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Henry VIII. The Earl was very fond of the theater and bought the sublease of the first Blackfriars Theatre, giving it to the writer John Lyly. He was a poet and playwright himself, yet only a few of his poems have survived. He also is a great candidate because of his education and would have definitely known the Royal aristocracy, since he is apart of it. Vere was considered extremely reckless and impulsive, buried himself in debt, mainly indebted to the Queen.
The story mainly takes place during the succession of Queen Elizabeth and the Essex rebellion against her. Certain plays, reeling in massive audiences, written by a small-time actor, reveals dark secrets involving the Queen and Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. I love Royal dramas, especially when it’s about Queen Elizabeth I. This was lush full of Elizabethan drama.
Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Cannes, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award winner Vanessa Redgrave played Queen Elizabeth. It was amazing to see her take on the role. It is definitely true what they say about older actors. With age, their talent strengthens and inevitably out-do themselves with every film they do. From Redgrave’s performance, I sympathized with Elizabeth and envied her fearlessness in facing her eminent succession, tying up loose ends of her past. Redgrave’s daughter, Joely Richardson played young Elizabeth, where we see Elizabeth behind closed doors. The great David Thewlis plays William Cecil, real life chief advisor to the Queen for most of her reign, who has a gripping influence in the film. Of course, played by the superb Rhys Ifans, Edward de Vere lived up to his name. The rest of the cast consist of seasoned actors and promising up-and-comers.
I was taken away with the theater performances of Shakespeare’s work in the film. The theater was beautiful, the stage effects were amazing and made me want to run to the theater. The acting was sharp and genuine and to see the audience reactions was really fun. I can only imagine what the theater experience was like back then, though I feel I got a good sense of it from this movie. Anna Foerster delivered a grim and theatrical story through her cinematography and the pacing of the film was fluent and appropriate, thanks to the editor Peter R. Adam. Harald Kloser and Thomas Wanker took on and executed the music perfectly. I’m envious of the production and costume designers of time pieces. To recreate a lifestyle like the Elizabethan era must have been so much fun, the challenge given to Sebastian T. Krawinkel and Lisy Christl.
Check out the trailer below.
Anonymous was released last fall and now available to rent, stream or buy. This is a film you won’t want to miss, especially if you’re a theater geek at heart. When you do watch, pay attention to the scene when Vere is confronted by his wife, Anne, about his writing. It’s my favorite scene of the film. Helen Baxendale sold me on Anne’s frustration over her husband’s writing and what it’s done to her family. I was blown away by the scene!
I hope this film will inspire everyone to research the topic further. This film does have it’s opinion and explores it creatively. I received a comment about this post from a poet named William Ray and he too shares the opinion of the film. He has a lot of great content to get one started on learning more about Shakespeare and Edward De Vere. Definitely check his site out and begin your journey to form your own opinion on whether Shakespeare is the true author of the work accredited to him.
Enjoy and be inspired!
3 thoughts on “Anonymous”
I share your enthusiasm that a cinematic drama has appeared that questions the traditional and too pat story that an uneducated lout, whose main occupation was usury and grain-sales, would produce by far the highest form of drama in recent centuries.
I felt disappointed, not in the actors, but in the director and screen writer, that the true story was not faithfully told. It has more than enough drama and pathos had it been shown. Consequently, if the viewers are inspired by the film, I encourage them to seek out this true story.
Oxford’s father was assassinated. His mother remarried indecently soon after. The assassin’s chief assistant married her. Oxford was put into ward under the supervision of the First Secretary, whose characteristics and nicknames reappear in Hamlet. He schemed to have Oxford marry his daughter. Polonius does the same in the play. All’s Well, As You Like It, Love’s Labor’s, Henry IV, part 1, Henry V, King John, MSND–all have characters and plots tracable to Oxford’s own family relations and events. The academic establishment has gotten too deep into endorsing the Stratford fable to pull out and is now trying to win control over the truth by ridicule and attrition. It won’t work. The truth will out, just as MofV says. But interested readers and viewers must seek it by themselves. The establishment isn’t interested. Just the opposite. A wonderful study and wonderful source for new historically based appreciation of the Shakespeare canon.
Thanks for your comment. I definitely agree with you. Honestly, as much as I love Shakespeare, I didn’t know there was a question whether Shakespeare was the true author of the work under his name before this film. Like I said in my post, it ignited my desire to find out for myself, do research on the subject, and make my own opinion. With your comment, I hope people who watch the movie do the same for themselves.
I love the film for the approach it took. The filmmakers had their opinion and went for it. I love how they highlighted how great Shakespeare’s work is, how important and influential the theater was at that time, and of course had the lavish entertaining scandal with Elizabeth, one of the most mysterious and powerful figures in history. Creatively, it portrayed some of the historical facts you mentioned through the theater scenes, which made me want to study up on the topic at hand, as well as European history. I believe this film will inspire people to take a position in the Shakespeare authorship question.
I went to your website and it’s a great place for people to start. I’ve edited into my post. Again, thanks for your input.
GabeTex for unintimidated citizen of the year. We have been conditioned to believe, under the rubric of anybody can do anything son, that an uncreative type can produce the greatest creations we have ever seen in print. An insult to human suffering and motivation. I recommend any of the following for those suspicious of the fable:
Four Essays on the Shakespeare Authorship Question (Mike A’Dair), 110 pages, $10. A terse but thorough summary of the facts and arguments to get up to date on the topic in an evening.
Shakespeare Suppressed (Katherine Chiljan), 448 pages, $25~. The best new scholarship and review of the old misconceptions.
Shakespeare by Another Name (Mark Anderson), 598 pages, $20~. Readable, thorough, and reliable panorama of the issue and the times.
Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom (Charles Beauclerk), 430 pages, $26. An overwhelming understanding of the Elizabethan era and Shakespeare texts; probably the best literary criticism produced in the last seventy-five years.
To answer the question, why should this matter now–the Big Lie did not start yesterday. governments have always formed and protected their self-legitimizing official histories. This episode is an example from the very beginning of the English nation-state, and we have a responsibility to inquire just what happened.