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Submitted by MBergeron on November 2, 2024 – 1:32 amNo Comment

Anonymous purports to be about whether Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to him. But the film is much, much more than that. Anonymous takes Elizabethan England to its iambic perimeter.

Rhys Ifans plays Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford and his fingers are always stained with ink. It would take a more scholarly pundit than your humble scribe to put forth the many arguments that pit Stratfordian theories against Oxfordian theories. Suffice it to say that Anonymous does an excellent job of distilling the various conspiracy theories that remain to this day about everything from the number of illegitimate child birthed by Queen Elizabeth to the actual author of Hamlet. Let’s face it, 500 years from now somebody will advance a theory that JFK impregnated Marilyn Monroe and that bastard love child went on to form the rock group Nirvana. And nobody alive 500 years hence will be able to disprove the assertion.

De Vere wants to change the political state of things and realizes that his most important weapon is the printed word. In Anonymous Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) is a buffoon of sorts, while Christopher Marlowe comes off as an opportunist and Ben Johnson a playwright hampered by his own sense of worth. Other characters include the real power behind Tudor England, the Cecil clan (David Thewlis and Edward Hogg) and Queen Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave and her daughter Joely Richardson playing the same role at different ages). Since this drama unfolds with the verbosity of a Shakespeare play there are several other players including one of the great Shakespearean actors of our day, Derek Jacobi who performs the film’s prologue in a modern setting.

As helmed by Roland Emmerich Anonymous unfolds with mystery, charm and integrity to the period. The lighting is sublime and the CGI effects are invisible until you realize that nearly the entire film was lensed in a studio with green screens. Additionally a replica of the Globe Theatre was built on a stage and becomes its own character throughout the film. Anonymous is no small achievement and verily is one of the better films of the year.

- Michael Bergeron

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