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We're Not All Unanimous on Anonymous, But It Won 6 Lola Prizes in Germany
Roland Emmerich's new film, Anonymous, is inspired by the same theory that gripped Sigmund Freud during the last dozen years of his life--that "William Shakespeare" was the pseudonym and front man of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford (1550-1604). When you see this film and ponder its thesis, I hope you will remind yourself that Freud was passionately intrigued by the likelihood that de Vere was Shakespeare. Before long, I predict Freud will be vindicated. The film has generated much debate, some of it acrimonious. Yet the Anonymous website has a poll showing that only 51% of visitors still believe the traditional author wrote the canon.
When his wife Anne pleads with de Vere to stop writing plays, he replies, "The voices! I can't stop them. They come to me. I would go mad if I didn't write down what the voices say." This is an intriguing surmise about de Vere's creative process, as though his Muse speaks to him aloud. In fact, I suspect that some form of unusual awareness and...
Set in the political snake-pit of Elizabethan England, Anonymous speculates on an issue that has for centuries intrigued academics and brilliant minds... who was the author of the plays credited to William Shakespeare? Anonymous poses one possible answer, focusing on a time when cloak-and-dagger political intrigue, illicit romances in the Royal Court, and the schemes of greedy nobles hungry for the power were exposed in the most unlikely of places: the London stage.Historical romp Anonymous takes an academic controversy (did the man named Shakespeare write the plays attributed to him?) and whips it into a lurid melodrama, crammed with political intrigue, heaving bosoms, flashing swordplay, conspiracies, forced marriage, incest, and more. Towards the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans, Enduring Love), seeks an outlet for his poetic drive: he tries to get the playwright Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto) to present his plays as Jonson's own. Jonson is reluctant to undercut his own work. but his friend, a vainglorious illiterate actor by the name of William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall), happily claims the glory when Oxford's plays prove hugely popular. But the real story of Anonymous isn't about authorship, it's about machinations to capture the throne of England when Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave) dies. Wily counselors vie with dashing secret heirs, royal dallying leads to shocking secrets, and supposedly the plays are inextricably caught up in it all--except that they're not, really, and so Anonymous, for all its clever plotting and lush production values, falls flat by the end. Still, it's an enjoyable confection up to then, and showcases some lovely (if woefully historically inaccurate--the mosh-pit moment is delightfully preposterous) presentations of bits of the plays. Also featuring David Thewlis (Naked) and Joely Richardson, daughter of Ms. Redgrave, playing the younger Elizabeth. --Bret Fetzer
Movie Category: Movies
Production of: SONY PICTURES HOME ENT
Movie Rating : 4.1
Total Review : 305
- Run Time: 130
- Release Date: 5/21/2013
- RHYS IFANS JOELY RICHARDSON
Top Buyer Review of Anonymous:
More Convincing Than I Anticipated
This film has Elizabethan and Shakespearian scholars alike up in arms, because it suggests that the great, learned man known as William Shakespeare may not have written his own plays. I am a scholar of Elizabeth, and I saw it with a scholar of Shakespeare. Both of us were offended... and both of us were impressed.
Poet Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto) has been dragged into the Tower of London for concealing the politically motivated plays of the late, lamented William Shakespeare. His belief that they have burn down with the Globe Theater sends the audience into earlier times, and the artistic merits of the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans). A man of title but no longer a fortune thanks to his debts and his insistence upon writing, he searches for a name to put with his voice. Ben seems the ideal choice, a poet of little regard and no actual voice, a playwright whose works are of little account. But he is offended at the notion of putting his name to another man's plays and passes...
The truth about Shakespeare lies elsewhere
I always accepted the idea that Shakespeare wrote his own plays, and considered anything to the contrary to be merely speculation not fact. So, the premise-what if Shakespeare never wrote a word, I found not to be appealing.
Upon reading some good reviews, I decided to see it, and found it to be a high quality production and a wonderful experience. Director Roland Emmerich previously directed 2012, and Independence Day, and writer John Orloff previously wrote some episodes of Band of Brothers, and as you watch this movie you will realise this term BoB originated with Shakespeare.
Anonymous proposes the Earl of Oxford wrote all the plays, anonymously donated them to Ben Johnson, a well known writer of the time for him to take credit. Then an uncouth illiterate actor, named Shakespeare steps in to claim the credit. The peer remained anonymous for reasons of social acceptability.
Another reason he may have remained anonymous which I totally loved was the...