I am not a Shakespeare groupie, such as those who make a pilgrimage to Ashland, Oregon every year for Shakespeare plays and others! But I have attended a few live performances, and then there’s the classic Romeo and Juliet I watched on-screen as a freshman in high school (the one with Leonard Whiting, not Leonardo DiCaprio). My favorite Shakespeare play is Twelfth Night, and I of course loved the film Shakespeare in Love.
Now comes this interesting 2011 film Anonymous that suggests that Will Shakespeare was not the person we think he was. How far fetched is it that someone else actually penned all those plays and sonnets, and because of social standing could not come forward to claim them as his own? This film presents an alternative to who the bard really was. Anonymous is rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual content.
The time is England, the Queen is Victoria. Not as Victorian as that era has often been made out to be, she was quite the scandalous hotheaded woman with an appetite for lovers and the stage.
Edward De Vere (Rhys Ifans), the Earl of Oxford, is of noble birth, well educated and good at everything he attempts. He has a passion for writing, but the noble class frowns upon this activity. Poets and dreamers are not held in high regard; warriors and knights are the heroes of the day.
Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto) becomes Edward’s accomplice, staging the plays he pens at The Rose, as Edward needs to remain anonymous to protect himself from being found out by his peers. Jonson was to take the credit for the plays, but when the time comes, an actor, Will Shakespeare (Rafe Spall), steps forward claiming the play as his own, and thus the ruse is born.
I liked this film. It really didn’t seem that far fetched. They claim that Shakespeare was not well educated, and did not have the opportunities for travel and study that Edward De Vere would have had. The story in Anonymous seems plausible to me.
But who is to know? This is the late 1500’s/early 1600’s after all. History in this film anyway, makes a good case for the true author of comedies and tragedies for the stage to be Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford.
Have you seen Anonymous? What do you think? Is William Shakespeare the real author or someone else?