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Review: Anonymous

Oct. 25, 2011by: Chris Bumbray
100%


PLOT: Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans), the Earl of Oxford , in addition to being a proud supporter of the Essex Rebellion, and a former lover of Queen Elizabeth I (Vanessa Redgrave), is secretly a playwright. His plays, highly satirical and critical of the monarchy, are scandalous, and, unwilling to expose himself, he hires a an alcoholic actor named William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) to claim the plays as his own.

REVIEW: What is Shakespeare was a fraud? That's the idea at the heart of Roland Emmerich's latest opus, ANONYMOUS. The Oxfordian theory presented in the film has been around for a while, and over the last decade or so has gained considerable traction among conspiracy theorists and the occasional Shakespearean scholar. While it's accuracy is highly questionable (we'll never know for sure), ANONYMOUS is a fun costume drama, and one of Emmerich's better films.


It's certainly a bold departure for the director, who's better known for his CGI driven disaster films like INDEPENDENCE DAY, GODZILLA, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, and 2012. While I despised GODZILLA, and 10,000 BC, I usually find Emmerich's movies to be entertaining, if immediately disposable. Probably the only film of his I'd really consider good is his Mel Gibson-starrer, THE PATRIOT, which itself is not free of rather questionable historical revisionism. Still, it's rousing stuff, and ANONYMOUS follows in that tradition.

To be sure, ANONYMOUS has it's fair share of cheese. For one, Ifans, as de Vere, is supposed to be in his fifties, but looks to be about thirty-five throughout- although Ifans's has enough dramatic heft to give the character the gravitas it requires. The plotting is a bit of a mess, with de Vere's later years- including the Essex Rebellion, juxtaposed against his swashbuckling youth, where he's played by CAMELOT's Jamie Campbell-Bower (who doesn't even slightly resemble Ifans).

In the Bower section of the film, we follow de Vere as he's forced into a loveless marriage to the daughter of the Queen's puritanical minister, William Cecil (David Thewlis). Through his early plays and sonnets, he manages to seduces the Queen (in an inspired bit of casting, played by Redgrave's daughter Joely Richardson)- before being banished for carrying on with her ladies-in-waiting.


The majority of the film focuses on the older de Vere, as he uses plays like RICHARD III, ROMEO & JULIET, and HAMLET to gain popular support for the Essex Rebellion (with their goal being to prevent Mary the queen of Scots son James from taking the throne). However, once de Vere's plays become more and more successful, he's stricken by a sense of pride in his work, and tortured by the fact that the public thinks they're coming from Shakespeare, who's played as a boozing illiterate in a fun performance by Spall.

ANONYMOUS would have probably been a failure had Emmerich not cast Ifans in the main role, with this being a rare star-turn for the Welshman, who's mostly know for his supporting parts in films like NOTTING HILL and GREENBERG. Recently, hes been making some headway as a lead (his film MR. NICE is worth checking out), and while this isn't exactly Peter O'Toole in THE LION IN WINTER territory, it's a fun, charismatic turn.

Speaking of that film, its obvious that Emmerich is trying hard to make his own variation on those late-sixties costume pictures, and for the most part he succeeds. Of course, being an Emmerich film, theres also a lot of action (including a swashbuckling sword duel or two) and some beautiful production design, which recreates the Shakespearean era with CGI (the film was also shot digitally).

However, ANONYMOUS is not free of a little of the trademark Emmerich goofiness, with an incestuous subplot being a particularly silly bit of lunacy that will like elicit more snickers from the audience than gasps of astonishment. Nevertheless, I enjoyed ANONYMOUS, even though it probably owes more to something like THE TUDORS than A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS. Its a fun way to spend two hours, and will actually makes an interesting companion piece to another TIFF selection, CORIOLANUS.

Source: JoBlo.com

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4:09PM on 10/04/2011

Where's the Bacon?

The Producer and the Director of this film evidently did not research the Lord Francis Bacon connection with Shakespeare..If they had, they would have made a film of titanic proportions. First of all, the Earl of Oxford was one of seven members of Bacons, Helmet Bearers Club, whose patron saint was the Goddess Phallus Athena. Because the statue of her holds a spear she was also called, The Shaker of the Spear of Knowledge at the Serpent of Ignorance. This is the reason why Bacon, who
The Producer and the Director of this film evidently did not research the Lord Francis Bacon connection with Shakespeare..If they had, they would have made a film of titanic proportions. First of all, the Earl of Oxford was one of seven members of Bacons, Helmet Bearers Club, whose patron saint was the Goddess Phallus Athena. Because the statue of her holds a spear she was also called, The Shaker of the Spear of Knowledge at the Serpent of Ignorance. This is the reason why Bacon, who was the leader of this group of literary giants, choose the man Shakepere, (he spelled his name without the last a in his name.) Bacon made him add the other a in case he was hauled up in front of a judge for writing these treasonable plays. Since Bacon was also the head of the Masonic Order, as well as the secret son of Queen Elizabeth the First, he wanted to educate the non-reading public of the tyranny of kings through the production of the playsA clue to Bacons part authorship of the plays lies in the King James Bible which Bacon edited. One has only to look up the 46th psalm of David and count the 46th word down which is Shake, and the 46th word up, which is, Spear, to see this clue..There are countless others, such as, The North Cumberland Manuscript, listing many of the plays with Bacons signature..
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1:21PM on 10/25/2011
ill have two of whatever youre having
ill have two of whatever youre having
11:08AM on 10/15/2011
He must have researched Bacon while directing this film. The argument that the Earl of Oxford wrote all of the works is more political and creates a better plot. I for one, do believe that it could have be Edward De Vere, J.T. Looney argued that 'The Merchant of Venice' must have been written by a man who knew Italy and Italian life at first hand, which meant that it could not have been an actor from Stratford.
He must have researched Bacon while directing this film. The argument that the Earl of Oxford wrote all of the works is more political and creates a better plot. I for one, do believe that it could have be Edward De Vere, J.T. Looney argued that 'The Merchant of Venice' must have been written by a man who knew Italy and Italian life at first hand, which meant that it could not have been an actor from Stratford.
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2:22PM on 11/02/2011

7 out of 10? Seriously?

I think this is a borderline 10. Actually, this is on my top 5 of the year. I was stunned at how good this film is. True, they probably combined Sir Francis Bacon's exploits with De Vere's and made it one author instead of a committee, but it works. The crux of the movie is that this extraordinarily gifted man could have been done ANYTHING he wanted in the World, but he chose to write - and he never got credit for it (like Bacon). A fantastic movie that allows for discussion, debate and
I think this is a borderline 10. Actually, this is on my top 5 of the year. I was stunned at how good this film is. True, they probably combined Sir Francis Bacon's exploits with De Vere's and made it one author instead of a committee, but it works. The crux of the movie is that this extraordinarily gifted man could have been done ANYTHING he wanted in the World, but he chose to write - and he never got credit for it (like Bacon). A fantastic movie that allows for discussion, debate and will stand the test of time - unlike say... Bridesmaids. 10/10/ Bravo to Roland Emmerich! Who knew?
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