Friday, November 18, 2011

Anonymous: Movie Review


Problematic theory, story and characters but worthy acting and end point.

“Anonymous” is a story that accounts the theory that William Shakespeare did not write all the works credited to William Shakespeare. Instead the true author is Edward, Earl of Oxford, a nobleman of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. It is known as the Oxfordian Theory. And it is a real theory; it’s just not a good one.2011

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

Screenplay by: John Orloff

Starring: Rhys Ifans

“Anonymous” is a Shakespearean story but directed by Roland Emmerich of the action-thriller genre. Not a good mix. The film is already down on two accounts. It can be hard to sit through when they make declarations like Shakespeare was illiterate and just a drunk, egotistical actor. I don’t think illiterate theatre actors actually exist.

Then we get into axiomatic problems with the story and the characters. At first, Edward is presented as both a gay man and as a power-seeking man driven by the need to have others regard his success. Play writing and producing was a path he saw where he would be responsible for other’s emotions and he would be rewarded with money and respect. When we jump back in time, Edward is now a (married) ladies man jumping into bed with a young Elizabeth and every other maiden in the house. He’s also not driven by power or success but just the simple joy of writing, of expressing his inner-self. They never touched on his sexuality again and seeing as he never took authorship of his plays and secretly passed them on to others to be produced, I don’t think they ever meant to portray him as power-hungry.

Surprisingly, able to arise above these fundamental character issues was Rhys Ifans playing the cryptic Edward. He was hardened when he needed to be, inviting when he needed to be, and best of all, he was almost able to convince me that he was, in fact, the true author of Shakespeare’s works.

Although I disagree with the theory presented and even the point of making such a movie, they did eventually touch on the heart of the matter. We don’t celebrate the man, but rather the verses he wrote. That I do agree with, just not how they got there.


The Raven (2012) - Poe's literary roots still shine through the action-influenced detective story.