Friday, October 28, 2011

‘Anonymous.’ Much Ado About Nothing? Or a Tempest?

ONE of the greatest and longest debates in Western literature is whether The Bard was as prolific as history credits.

Supposedly, the best academic minds have mined obscure journals and dubious scribblings hoping to unearth proof that will put the question to rest once and for all. Not surprisingly some writers, including Henry James have wondered aloud about this matter.

In other words, did William Shakespeare really pen all of those plays, sonnets and other literary works? More specifically and speciously, is he/was he a fraud? (See trailer above).

The latest sally into this wearisome territory is the film, “Anonymous,” which revives as the possible source of WS’s works someone whom establishment academia has already rejected. The fellow – a nobleman with an eccentric backstory – will go unnamed here. Those who wish to learn his identity can see the film, which opens in limited release in several countries today. “Anonymous” had its world premiere at the 36th Toronto International Film Festival last month.

The great Derek Jacobi is pressed into service to give an introductory lecture on the latest iteration of this discarded theory. Each viewer, however, must decide whether Roland Emmerich’s film presents a credible case. If nothing else “Anonymous” – set in Elizabethan England – is an elaborate and exquisite period piece peopled by dastardly villains and admirable heroes/heroines.

The mostly British cast includes Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Sebastian Armesto, David Thewlis, Joely Richardson, Sam Reid, Xavier Samuel and Rafe Spall as WS.

“Anonymous” is rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual content.

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