Sunday, October 23, 2011


ANONYMOUS is a new film from Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 2012). This film resurrects the old idea that William Shakespeare was not the real author of the plays that bear his name but that they were written by someone else. This is usually a debate among scholars and it crops up from time to time, but with this film the idea will get wider play.

Personally I'm not a big fan of the concept. The argument usually goes that Shakespeare who was a country bumpkin of little formal education could not possibly write such great works. To that argument I, as a writer myself, usually say: Poppycock! I suspect most writers would agree with me, particularly writers of fantasy.

We have little trouble buying that a young man from Texas who never travelled abroad and had limited formal education could write convincingly about kingdoms and barbarian heroes from the mythical Hyborian Age. We don't doubt that a mere civil servant could have so convincingly written about a womanizing super spy with a license to kill, nor that a high school english teacher from Bangor Maine could write about the supernatural.

Why then do we doubt Shakespeare? As a writer myself I have no problem with the idea that the young man from  Stratford-Upon-Avon with no royal connections could have an imagination gifted enough to write the canon that we all study today.

That having been said, I do like films about writers and ANONYMOUS does look sumptuous and rich and very dramatic and it is full of great English actors. It could do for Shakespeare what The Davinci Code did for Leonardo. Perhaps that film did Leonardo a disservice, but it did get people talking and thinking about it, which is usually a good thing. If this film gets people talking and thinking about shakespeare, then it's all to the good even though I think the idea the film portrays is a load of codswollop.

Take a look at the trailer and decide for yourself. The film opens October 28.

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?


cerebus660 said...

"Was Shakespeare a fraud?"

Er... no.

"Here are a few of the unpleasant'st words /
That ever blotted paper"

Like you, Mike, I really hate that idea. Roland Emmerich would probably be better off going back to his usual MO of making dumb blockbusters with more explosions than plot.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Ever since I saw the sketch on SCTV about Shakespeare and Francis Bacon called 'Shake and Bake', I can't take any of these 'Shakespeare didn't write his shit' conspiracy theories seriously without breaking into giggles.

M. D. Jackson said...

I loved that sketch! That was one of the best things SCTV ever did!

"more explosions than plot" That's good That pretty much sums Emmerich up.

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