Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, is presented as the real author of Shakespeare's works. Edward's life is followed through flashbacks from a young child, through to the end of his life. He is portrayed as a child prodigy who writes and performs A Midsummer Night's Dream for a young Elizabeth I. A series of events sees his plays being performed by a frontman, Shakespeare.Written by
When a reporter on National Public Radio pointed out to screenwriter John Orloff that this movie is full of historical inaccuracies (for instance, the playwright Christopher Marlowe, who appears as a character in this movie, actually was dead by the time these events supposedly "took place"), he responded that he wrote these inaccuracies into the screenplay deliberately as an homage to the way that Shakespeare himself took dramatic liberties in his history plays. See more »
Elizabeth I died in Spring, on March 24th 1603. It is unlikely that her funeral procession led over the frozen Thames. See more »
The Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans) is a talented playwright whose position forces him to publicly abandon his endeavors. He seeks to sign over his plays and sonnets to Ben Johnson (Sebastian Armesto), but that's easier said than done. When William Shakespeare takes credit (Rafe Spall), that's the least of concerns as the words of Edward affect the political climate.
Rhys Ifans is an unrecognizable powerhouse, and though the rest of the cast fairs well, he shines. As does director Roland Emmerich, who uses every trick at his disposal to make a highly sophisticated drama littered with elaborate costumes and set decoration to be admired.
The theatre experience is very well represented in Anonymous, with the narrator barely making the curtain. Believe it or not but this does actually happen and there are actors who specialize in. The workings of the theatre coincide with the events described and eventually merge. In the time of Edward, the Globe is shown with spectacular accuracy and the familiar faces of the troupe appear across plays.
The future of England is put at stake as the insight into Edward's inspiration is penned on a relationship with Queen Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave and in younger form Joely Richardson). These secrets showcase the power of words to win over love and country.
Is it cheating to inject stolen verse into a screenplay? To some extent yes. We're talking about a movie that lifts words, then says they came from a thief. A bit of a paradox if anything. Similarly, it would be silly for J.J. Abrams to direct a movie that's filled with scenes from every Steven Spielberg film, yet that happened with Super 8.
If Anonymous has a fault, it would be in jerking around the audience. The movie starts with an inventive use of a framing device, and quite appropriately in a theatre. We go back and Ben Johnson is jailed, only for us to go back 5 years to see him getting jailed. Then we go back another 40 and when we next see Johnson he's being set free. So in which time is he released? Thankfully Anonymous is long enough to allow an audience to gain bearings.
Anonymous is Emmerich's masterpiece, a radical far from his usual environmental apocalypse works. There could be a stigma surrounding the subject, which will be viewed as blasphemy by many. I'd like to reassure you that most popular cinema is an act of fiction. Shakespeare isn't available to rebut, and most moviegoers are not concerned with historical accuracy so long as the story is compelling and filled with drama, which Anonymous delivers.
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