Sunday, 11 September 2011

Film Review: "Anonymous" (2011).

"We all know William Shakespeare. The most famous author of all time. Writer of 37 plays, 154 sonnets and several epic poems. But why are we here today? What if I told you that Shakespeare never wrote a single word..." This controversial theory is presented in Anonymous. This political thriller and historical drama film, directed by Roland Emmerich and written by John Orloff. The movie examines the theory in which that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, who penned Shakespeare's plays and presents a fictionalized version of his life as an Elizabethan courtier, playwright, poet and patron of the arts. Set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I and the Essex rebellion against her.

Screenwriter John Orloff became interested in the authorship debate after watching a 1989 Frontline programme about the controversy. Penning his first draft in the late 1990s, commercial interest waned after Shakespeare in Love was released in 1998. It was almost greenlit as The Soul of the Age for a 2005 release, with a budget of $30 to $35 million. However, financing proved to be "a risky undertaking", according to director Roland Emmerich. At a press conference at Studio Babelsberg on April 29, 2010, Emmerich noted that the success of his more commercial films made this one possible, and that he got the cast he wanted without the pressure to come up with "at least two A-list American actors." Emmerich noted he knew little of either Elizabethan history or the authorship question until he came across John Orloff's script, after which he "steeped" himself in the various theories. Wary of similarities with Amadeus (1984), Emmerich decided to recast it as a film on the politics of succession and the monarchy, a tragedy about kings, queens and princes, with broad plot lines including murder, illegitimacy and incest – "all the elements of a Shakespeare play."

The film stars Rhys Ifans as Edward de Vere, Vanessa Redgrave as Elizabeth I of England, Sebastian Armesto as Ben Jonson, David Thewlis as William Cecil, Edward Hogg as Robert Cecil, Xavier Samuel as Henry Wriothesley and Rafe Spall as William Shakespeare. The cast gave great performances despite being historically inaccurate to their real-life counterparts. Ifans gave a monumental performance as the Earl of Oxford and pulled off the intellectual yet tormented soul of the age. Redgrave a magnificent performance as the Virgin Queen of England. She gave a much more darker portrayal than her predecessors who always seem to portray her as a heroic figure. But never got into her dark, complex psyche.

Emmerich's epic, idiosyncratic subjects are often pitted against iconic or impersonal antagonists, but Anonymous' conflict remains rivetingly intimate, in spite of its sumptuous, larger-than-life settings. A subject of historical nature is typically handled badly in the movies, but the film treats the subject in a fresh and interesting way, despite the possibility of major backlash from Scholars to even Shakespeare fanatics. Overall, it might be considered as a grand movie entertainment from the modern Master of Disaster.

Simon says Anonymous receives:

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