The writings of William Shakespeare are taught to the world for their detail and fascinating characters. Yet, the events surrounding the man who wrote the plays remain a mystery that has captivated the minds like those of Mark Twain and Sigmund Freud.
The movie “Anonymous” attempts to tackle the idea that William Shakespeare did not write the plays that made him so famous, but were instead written by an aristocrat during the tumultuous period of the reign of Elizabeth I, known as Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, played by Rhys Ifans.
The movie follows the life of Ben Jonson, best known for becoming the first Poet Laureate of England. Jonson was a playwrite of London who was confined for his plays. When de Vere(played by Rhys Ifans) secured Jonson’s release, he agreed to stage the plays he had written over the years, as support for the Earl of Essex’s campaign against the Cecils’ plan for James, King of Scotland to inherit the English throne.
He assumed this path of action after visiting a theater and sees how spectators can be swayed by the action on stage, which affirms his belief that words, and by relation, art, is the most important weapon available. “All art is political, otherwise it is just decoration,” de Vere said, during one of his meetings with Jonson.
Rafe Spall plays William Shakespeare, an actor who becomes the front for the operation, to the horror of the Earl. The movie takes a dark turn with the murder of a playwright and informer to the Tower, as the Cecils grow closer to de Vere.
The lives of the characters unravel as the story progresses and ends with the vow by Robert Cecil that de Vere’s name will never appear on his plays. The movie is filmed in Germany, with sets of London made and CGI putting the final touches on the film.
While perhaps not appropriate for the under 13 audience, the political and romantic intrigue that form the core of this movie provide the movie goer with an interesting twist on one of the greatest men ever known.