In this latest version of Elizabethan “history,” “Anonymous” would have us believe that William Shakespeare was a moronic, unlettered actor and those wonderful plays and sonnets under his name were written instead by Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford.
Shakespeare is a fraud, apparently, and speaking for a bazillion high school freshmen and sophomores, past and present, this is a twist that comes shockingly harsh and disappointing.
“Anonymous” is an interesting movie on several levels.
OK, Shakespeare is a fraud. But the real crux of this story are the 37 plays of romance, tragedy, history, and comedy penned by some undeniable 16th century genius. If this be de Vere (Rhys Infans), his writing successfully seduces Elizabeth I, the great English virgin queen, influences the masses, and changes the posture of literature and theater in his time.
But, de Vere is nobility and noblemen of that period do not sully with the likes of theatre. He is an artist, he is proud, and he must find a front man -- hence, Shakespeare.
With this backdrop, a wonderful story unfolds of mystery and political intrigue over a span of 40 years in and around Elizabeth’s court. When you see members of court parodied in such plays as “Hamlet” or “Richard III,” you sense their notion of “sedition.”
The dialogue, narrative, and pacing is first rate, plus the movie is visually wonderful. You can feel the muck as the actors walk the streets of old London; the interaction between players on stage and audience is almost personal.
Court intrigue is not high, entertaining drama, in my opinion, but this works, with a fascinating, high end, historical twist.
It is, after all, William Shakespeare … maybe.
Jim Wigge is a Cazenovia resident and long-time film-aficionado. After retiring from his career as an engineer, he has shifted his focus to reviewing movies for the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached through the editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.