Cast: Rhys Ifans, Rafe Spall,
Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson
Director: Roland Emmerich
In Cinemas: Now
In his 1998 survey – Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human – Harold Bloom provides an analysis of each of Shakespeare’s 38 plays, “twenty-four of which are masterpieces.” Written as a companion to the general reader and theatergoer.
Bloom declares that bardolatry ought to be even more of a secular religion than it already is. Bloom contends in this work that Shakespeare Invented Humanity, in that he prescribed the now common practice of Overhearing Ourselves, which he says drives our changes.
I’m not suggesting that Roland Emmerich’s latest film – Anonymous – in which the filmmakers introduce an alternative history of the Bard, then promptly sets about dismantling all we think we know, and all we’ve learnt about Shakespeare, is in anyway based on fact, it’s a little more ambiguous in it’s take on possibilities. If shakespeare had written a 39th play though, Anonymous could very well have been his plot. Critics have been short on praise for Emmerich – the director of Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow – most squarking that taking on a British period drama was a huge misdemeanor for one of Hollywood’s blockbuster kings.
The far to clever Luke Buckmaster of crikey.com wrote: “Much of the running time consists of well coiffed regal authorities conversing in dark hallways. Ignore the interesting ideas the script’s premise implies: Anonymous is not about how streaks of greatness can come from unexpected places or about how geniuses can be shunned from the history books, at least not in any meaningful ways. The acting is soporific, the writing dull and Emmerich’s fish-out-of-water direction is surprisingly consistent — he provides the film a steady ebb and flow — but lacklustre. Full disclosure: despite feeling well rested and wide awake when I entered the cinema, I slept through around 20 minutes of the second act”
When more time on a page is spent espousing the wonders of the reviewer, you have to wonder what it is they were reviewing, I get the feeling only terribly clever people are capable of such inbound criticism, crikey, it’s film?
I thoroughly enjoyed Anonymous, and had no problem keeping my eyes wide open, it was a sumptuously shot, a beautifully realized piece of cinema, not at all hard to get lost in, most importantly – it was thoroughly entertaining. Shakespeare’s influence has been vast, novelists such as Thomas Hardy, William Faulkner, and Charles Dickens. The American novelist Herman Melville’s soliloquies owe much to Shakespeare Scholars have identified 20,000 pieces of music linked to Shakespeare’s works. These include two operas byGiuseppe Verdi, Otello and Falstaff, whose critical standing compares with that of the source plays. Emmerich’s latest work comfortably joins this queue of influenced works.
Shakespeare’s work has made a lasting impression on theatre and literature. In particular, he expanded the dramatic potential of characterisation, plot, language, and genre. Until Romeo and Juliet, for example, romance had not been viewed as a worthy topic for tragedy. Soliloquies had been used mainly to convey information about characters or events; but Shakespeare used them to explore characters’ minds. His work heavily influenced later poetry. The Romantic poets of the 19th century attempted to revive Shakespearean verse, though with little success. Critic George Steiner described all English verse dramas from Coleridge to Tennyson as “feeble variations on Shakespearean themes.” Emmerich’s latest revival of Shakespeare in film is clever, witty and a nice piece of escapism, will it move history? it’s not meant to, it’s cinema.
So little is known about Shakespeare, the author considered the bedrock of Western literature it’s no surprise that theories abound about the true identity of William Shakespeare. The comic subplot involving Shakespeare himself, who is “revealed” in Anonymous to have been an illiterate fumbling actor – gorgeously played by Rafe Spall – who just happened to have been sober long enough to prick his ears on a dandy plot to fall into becoming the front for Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, the real Bard. The sets are stunning, impressively Emmerich brings an exuberance to the recreation of Philip Henslowe’s Rose and later Shakespeare’s Globe theaters, the performances within rendering so convincingly the original performances of Henry V, Hamlet and Richard III.
Cast: Rhys Ifans, Rafe Spall, Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson
Director: Roland Emmerich
In Cinemas: Now