20/11/2011

I'VE SEEN IT AT THE CINEMA : ANONYMOUS (2011). SO LONG AS MEN CAN BREATH OR EYES CAN SEE...


... so long live Shakespeare's wonderful words ... whoever wrote them. After watching Roland Emmerich's intriguing Anonymous about the controversial question of the authorship behind Shakespeare's plays, I'm even more convinced of that. Whoever wrote them - as Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto) says at the end of the film - those words will live forever, and he and everybody else who lived in the same age as the bard who wrote them, even the Queen herself, will be remembered because they had the honour to live in the same age as that man. Isn't that true? 


OK, before you go on reading, I must remind you that when given anything Shakespearean I tend to be biased. 

Whatever YOU tend to believe, this film can't leave you indifferent. Though a historically accurate timeline is nowhere to be found, it instills doubt in the moviegoer. You can't avoid thinking, what if ... ? At least, while you are comfortably sitting in front of the huge screen and caught in the intriguing narration, lost in the unbeatable charm, the powerful atmosphere of  Elizabethan London recreated at Babelsberg Studios in Berlin. Emmerich doesn't want to convince the academics of the truth of his feeble theories,  but certainly he wants to entertain his audience with care and attention for the visual details of grimy Tudor London and a very special perspective on the world of the Elizabethan public  playhouses. 

Rhys Ifans
Jamie Campbell Bower

Since he was a child, Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford, (Rhys Ifans, in his mature life /Jamie Campbell Bower, as  a young  man ) was a literary genius, he was extraordinarily talented with words. However, his rank and the family he was brought up in after his parents' death, the powerful puritan Cecils, prevented him from accomplishing his ambition, that is,  to see his plays staged publicly with his name. He , who had meanwhile become Queen Elizabeth's (played in her different ages by Joely Richardson and her mother Vanessa Redgrave) lover, had to renounce all of his dreams and was forced to marry Anne Cecil (Helen Baxendale). 

Joely Richardson as Young Queen Elizabeth

Vanessa Redgrave - Elizabeth in her last years 
Later on he offered the authorship of his plays to young Ben Jonson who was beaten in the task by an unscrupled, vain, almost illitterate actor in his company, Will Shakespeare (Rafe Spall). 
In the last year of Elizabeth's reign,  theatre and politics mingled and plotted and burst into violence with a tragic sad epilogue. 

Rafe Spall as Will Shakespeare
Controversies apart,  the film is well constructed as a play within a play (it starts on a stage in contemporary New York with a monologue of Derek Jakobi) and has excellent cast and photography. I liked it, though I  can hardly be convinced Shakespeare was a fraud and even less can I believe that Shakespeare was the shallow, funny charlatan skillfully played by Rafe Spall. Neither as a dummy writer. 

Anecdotes:
1. The film was released yesterday , November 18, in Italy. I had to leave by bus early in the afternoon to get to Rome in time for the 5.40 p.m. show and I was back home late at night. Was it worth it? Yes, it was.
2. The reason why I went to Rome is that I wanted to see it in English. And...wow! I could do it! I could see this film in the original language thanks to Cinema Nuovo Olimpia in the city centre and to my friend K/V who discovered it!
3. I was actually rather distracted all through the movie by the impression of having already seen somewhere two of the actors without being able to recollect where and when. I now know, thanks to Imdb: ephebic but not effeminate young earl of Oxford (Jamie Campbell Bower) I had already seen as Arthur in Camelot  (2011) and fascinating Robert Deveraux, Earl of Essex, I had the pleasure of recently watch in the last series of Spooks (2011) as young Harry Pierce. In both roles, Sam Reid.

10 Reasons Why Shakespeare is a Fraud (video by Roland Emmerich) 

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Anonymous was a lovely film - I thoroughly enjoyed it. But, leaving aside the who-wrote-Shakespeare question, a film purporting to portray Elizabeth I's love life which fails even to mention Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester must surely be suspect.

AprilFool

Sophia Rose said...

I am intrigued to see this film too. I love the idea of all the Elizabethan pageantry.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Aprilfool
There were other inconsistencies as for Elizabeth's "men". What about her second most important chancellor? The one who substituted William Cecil at his death? No Walsingham? However, leaving historical accuracy apart, it is a very entertaining, well-constructed intrigue.
Thanks for your comment!
@Sophia Rose
I hope you'll manage to see it and you'll enjoy it. Have a nice Sunday!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I've seen it in a theater: I enjoyed the original (not dubbed) version and the costumes, and was only slightly bothered by the inconsistency re the chronology of the Plays. Probably because I'm not an expert :)
But then, I was quite upset while listening at Mozart's music performed during the wedding ceremony :-/
All in all, I liked the film as I did like Shakespeare in Love, but don't believe to any theory expounded in both of them :)
Have a lovely Sunday everyone,
xx K/V (Anonymous as well :-P)

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@K/V
Yes, Mozart's Requiem at the wedding made me giggle, actually. But, you see, the poor lovely boy was marrying Anne Cecil and all of his dreams were dying on that day :-(
As for the chronology of the plays, you are right, it is definitely absurd. But they served the purpose of the show: the plot worked, the intrigue was thrilling.
And all in all, just like you, I liked this movie as I liked Shakespeare in love. It is more political and darker but good as well.
Have a nice Sunday!

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I wasn't going to see this as I think the main idea (that Shakespeare didn't write his plays) is probably untrue, but you make it sound like it might be enjoyable anyway, so maybe I will.

Alessia Carmicino said...

i want to see this movie!but Noboby wants to come with me...;(

Ally said...

I can't wait to see this movie, but I need to wait a few more months I guess...

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Sam
If you can bear a silly, funny, illiterate Will and several historical mistakes and only focus on the plot and the costume movie, it'll be fun.
@Alessia
I'll come with you. I'll watch it again, why not? What time this afternoon? ;-)
@Ally
Why Ally? Where do you live? It's already been released in the US and the UK and only now in Italy. What about your country?
Thanks to the three of you for dropping by and commenting!

Alessia Carmicino said...

thank you but i believe it's not possible...I live in Sicily!;(

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Alessia
Jokes apart, I too know very few people in my real life who share my same tastes. Thanks to my blogs, I've met K/V. and ... I went with her :-)
Hold on. Go on blogging. Who knows?
Hugs. MG

Alessia Carmicino said...

me too!sometimes I feel so estranged from others...my friends don't understand my passion for literature and cinema...;( I have to torture my poor boyfriend(who hates period drama)to have company when I go to the cinema, But sometimes it's difficult to persuade him! ;(

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Alessia
He reminds me of someone...My husband? ;-)

Alessia Carmicino said...

ehehe;) IT is a truth universally acknowledged that men are allergic to period dramas!

lunarossa said...

Unfortunately I missed it! it was on only a couple of days here in York and I expected to be on at least week. The show was on at 11pm on Bonfire Night and it was too late for me, after a football morning and cooking for 25 people in the evening! I will have to wait until it's on dvd...Glad you thought it was entertaining at least...Have a nice Sunday. Ciao. A.x

lunarossa said...

PS My husband loves period dramas. He was the one who made me watch P&P 1995! He took Emma for his English A-Level and he's an incredible reader of period literature too!

Alessia Carmicino said...

@Lunarossa you are very lucky!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Lunarossa
I agree with Alessia, A.
You are very lucky! :D
This means, you'll rent a DVD of Anonymous as soon as it is out and if you like it, you'll buy it. I know it is not the same but ... this must be the solution. Or are you planning to fly to Italy in the next days? :-)

Jenny Allworthy said...

Hi Maria Grazia, glad you liked it. I think as long as you don't take it too seriously, it is quite enjoyable. I said in my blog that I probably wouldn't buy this one, but I am now rethinking that. Especially if the DVD has lots of good extras on it, I will probably buy it to look at all the costumes, scenery and CGI London scenes again. And the acting was truly wonderful. I am still shaking my head over all of those bastard children however...

Ally said...

I live in Romania :) I just checked and it has been release in the capital a week ago, I might see it sooner then.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Jenny Allworthy
I read your review of Anonymous and I'm glad you have changed your mind about the DVD. I want to have it. I'm interested in some scenes for my lessons about Elizabethan drama and public theatre at that time. I've used "Shakespeare in love" so many times now!
@Ally
Good. Let us know what you think after watching it! I hope you'll enjoy it. :-)

Anonymous said...

I've always loved the Who Wrote Shakespeare controversy - and wrote a whole essay in college "proving" it was Chris Marlowe...(well, did Marlowe really die in a tavern brawl? :) )

It is all great fun, and makes excellent film, as long as you appreciate the film media. "History is bunk", anyway. (Speaking as a history grad still reading history, because it is a great detective exercise) Good drama is good drama.

fitzg

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Fitzg
Well, you put it greatly, fitzg. And I agree with you, every word :-)
Thanks for sharing your point of view.

JaneGS said...

I'm still not sure whether I'll see the movie bit I definitely enjoyed your review--point taken, the words themselves are immortal!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@JaneGS
Thanks, J. I know you share my love for anything Shakespeare too! :-)