Once upon a time there was a super genius named Shakespeare. Like just about everyone else in history, he had a brilliant output early on and then retired to a quiet life. His writing was so brilliant that people have been pissed off at him ever since. Clearly a lowly actor could never have written something so sublime.
The idea that Shakespeare didn’t write any of the stuff which bares his name has a certain appeal to it. Records from the Elizabethan era are not as plentiful as you might think. Somewhere over the past 500 years or so, all that remains of Shakespeare are his words, a few legal details, and a scant handful of signatures-none of which are spelled the same way. It was big news a couple of years back when someone found a portrait they think is Shakespeare.
Anonymous takes the idea that Shakespeare was a fraud and runs in all directions with it. They left out my favorite bit of Shakespeare conspiracy theory-that he wrote the book Psalms for King James, the one book in the bible that really sings and shows a skilled writer’s hand. Anonymous tosses in Ben Jonson, The Earl of Oxford, Christopher Marlowe, and The Earl of Derby. But to be fair, Ben Jonson and the Earl of Oxford are the only ones that really matter here.
Anonymous’s story is convoluted, involving a lot of political intrigue and a slightly mad Queen Elizabeth I. The main villain is some royal adviser and his twisted son. Among the many secrets they keep are how many bastards Queen Elizabeth I had. Since these people where mega obsessed with getting an heir to the throne, seems they would have done something to keep a couple of these kids on hand and figure out a way to wed the Queen. After all, her father was Henry VIII, it’s not like she didn’t know she could marry as often as she wanted to.
The story is filled with minor and mostly forgotten people from Elizabeth’s court. Even if I knew who these people were, I’m still not sure I would care. In addition to putting forth that Elizabeth had a dozen or so children, we also have the ‘real’ author whipping out Richard The Third in one sitting, and an idiot Shakespeare committing murder so he can continue to blackmail the ‘real’ writer.
Outside of it’s ridiculous storyline, Anonymous was a good looking film and had a great cast.