Anonymous (2011) Review

What if William Shakespeare did not write any of his works and Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford had instead . . .

This is what this film looks into, along with who will succeed Elizabeth I on the throne of England and the Essex rebellion against her. The film flashes backwards and forwards across many years. This is to show us the relationship between Edward and Elizabeth, and how many things were kept hidden and secret.

Ben Johnson who was another playwright and was asked to put his name to the Earl of Oxford’s plays. But morally he did not feel right about it, hence actor Will Shakespeare stepping in and lending his name and making money by keeping quiet about who really wrote the plays.

I have to admit that to begin with I did find it confusing to keep track of who the different characters were in the younger scenes with different actors, to the most seen timescale. But this was not a problem for very long, just took a lot of concentration to keep track of who was who. The different names and titles were also a little bit confusing at first.

I do love anything about the Tudor’s they were my favorite part of history when I was at school, so a film like this was always going to grab my attention. I will also admit that I do like Shakespeare based films as well, which obviously overlaps a bit in films about Elizabeth I.

Performance wise in the film I really thought Rhys Ifans was just fantastic and almost unrecognisable from the roles we are used to seeing him in. Which was a major part of this film working, but he really does give it his all as the Earl.

I know many different theories have been said about Shakespeare not actually writing his own plays/works. Mainly because both of his parents were illiterate which makes it hard to believe that he could actually read and write himself. So this film explores some of those theories.

I have to admit that I was very shocked by the incest revolution near the end of the film, and don’t think that was really needed, as the story already had enough impact. This film hasn’t really received the best reviews but despite a rather confusing start I found myself really wrapped up in what was going on until the very end. I liked the way it started on a stage and ended on the stage, a very nice touch.

7 thoughts on “Anonymous (2011) Review

  1. I didn’t really like the trailer very much, but it sounds okay… I love Shakespeare films as well, but I’m planning on reading some of his (or anothers?) work for a change…


  2. This is an interesting idea for a movie, and it sort of caught my attention when I first heard about, but I don’t htink I’ll end up seeing it, mainly because I jsut don’t buy it. People are always claiming that Shakespeare didn’t write his plays, but they’re kind of missing the point. Shakespeare didn’t write anything down, the folios we have a transcribed from live performances and then edited and retouched by many different hands.
    More to the point, the plays we got are good enough that it doesn’t really matter where they came from!


    • Fantastic point Katie! So many people would have been involved in the text we now have to read and look into. But the film did take some interesting theories on it all.


  3. The film had its fair share of flaws but Emmerich really keeps this film moving with a story that is detailed with great mystery to it, and shows his love for Shakespeare’s writing very well. Let’s just hope he sticks away from blowing up the world the now. Good review Caz.


    • Totally agree about Emmerich staying away from blowing the world up for now! Would be good to see what else he can do, after this film being very different to his most well known work.


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