Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Anonymous is a richly staged movie about a theory as to who really penned Shakespeare's plays and sonnets.
The drama becomes a drama only because the screenplay weaves the succession of Queen Elizabeth -- and the Essex rebellion against her -- into the story.
Believe it or not, the comic relief in the play is Will Shakespeare, a device meant to convince us that Will, a commoner with little education, couldn't possibly have written what is generally regarded as the world's best plays. If we believe what the film shows us, we would heartily agree. He's pictured here as an uncouth, unscrupulous, greedy Englishman, with no talent at all except for extortion.
So, who did write these plays? The film works to persuade us that the plays and poems commonly attributed to William Shakespeare are actually the work of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. And the film (and some scholars) makes a valiant effort, if not completely plausible, towards this end.
Casting isn't as compelling. Much of the film is seen through the eyes of bitter Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto), but he isn't much of a focal point for the film. The Earl of Oxford, supposedly our muse, is portrayed by Jamie Campbell Bower (young) and Rhys Ifans (older), and they're both excellent. Unfortunately, the older Elizabeth as portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave is highly emotional and seems to have forgotten all of her life's lessons in this one. However, considering how many people went to the Tower of London during her reign, this situation may be evidential. Still, she's never quite regal enough.
It's a complicated story, a bit too complicated at almost every step. It's good to already be acquainted with the historical characters before you dive in. But it's richly illustrated and fun for those a little interested in the history. Thumb's up.


Post a Comment

<< Home