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!