‘To be, or not to be, that is the question’… ‘Anonymous’ is a film set in the Elizabethan era, and revolves around the idea that Shakespeare may not be the one who wrote his plays and poems. The theory here is that Shakespearean plays were written by the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, and the passed on to an intermediary by the name of Benjamin Johnson, who, in turn, then passed them on to Shakespeare. The latter then staged the plays, taking full credit for each of them.
The film, directed by Roland Emmerich and written by John Orloff, depicts quite beautifully the Shakespearian times. It puts an emphasis on the politics of play-writing at that time, incorporating Queen Elizabeth’s younger memories, and similarly to nearly all other films of this genre, involves the idea of a royal family feud over a legitimate heir to the throne. The movie cast is, unsurprisingly, predominantly British with Rhys Ifans (‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I’ (2010)) in the role of Earl of Oxford; Vanessa Redgrave (‘Atonement ’(2007)) taking part of Queen Elizabeth; Rafe Spall (‘One Day’ (2011)) playing Shakespeare; and Jamie Campbell Bower (‘Sweeney Todd’ (2007)) as young Earl of Oxford, among others. All actors here are convincing, especially Redgrave, whose Queen Elizabeth is probably a fair match to Judi Dench’s Queen Elizabeth in ‘Shakespeare in Love’ (1998).