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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
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Top Customer Reviews
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 parallel structure between what happened in the plays, and the real life events of the courtiers and Queen Elizabeth. Cecil, the courtier villain in this movie is a hunchback (historical fact), and brother in law of the Earl of Oxford. Richard 3 in Shakespeare's play is a hunchback, so the play becomes a social satire.
A scene where a man is stabbed through a curtain mirrors a scene in Hamlet. A usurped heir is sent to Ireland, and there is a plot to kill him, similar to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet.
Emmerich's direction gives Anonymous a much grander scope.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This movie challenges what the scholars had made us to believe that Shakespeare was author of so many books. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Peyman ADLDOUSTI
I feel like this movie kind of flew under the radar for a lot of people. But it's a really great movie and I def recommend giving it a shot!Published on Jan. 1 2014 by Bata