Monday, February 13, 2012

Anonymous

At last at last at last I've seen Anonymous.


I knew I wanted to see this when I saw that Derek Jacobi was playing a part (have loved him ever since I saw him in I, Claudius). Anyway, I was anxious to see this one, because I've long been fascinated by "the Shakespeare question"--did Willy really write all that good stuff?

Anonymous offers IMHO, an interesting, though sometimes eyebrow-raising version of events:

Caution! Possible Spoiler Alerts!!!

Things I liked...

* Rhys Ifans--and that his fingers were always so deliciously dirty with ink. In fact, there was much gorgeous filth everywhere in this film--true to Elizabethan times :)

* The clever, this is a play that suddenly turns into a movie that turns back into a play.

Rhys and his inky fingers.

* Scenery, costumes... gorgeous gorgeousness. And appropriately soiled.

* Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave as Elizabeth I -- <3!!!

Young Liz...

* Life at the Globe--minus the crowd surfing scene. Loved the groundlings. But then again, I've always loved the groundlings. Also thought theater-production at the Globe was very cool.

Intriguing, but sometimes iffy...

* Um, didn't like Ben Johnson. His voice was really deep, and then when he got mad, it would get all crackly and weird. Personal pref--me no like.

* Shakespeare as an illiterate (can read but not write) drunk that can barely string two sentences together in a conversation... I'm not thinking that this is an accurate picture of the bard--if he really was the bard or not. He was a business man and an actor. I think his people skills were probably a bit better than presented here, but I think he was caricatureized--like Ben Johnson's bumblry, Christopher Marlowe's weaselyness and the Cecils'... evilness--to emphasize de Vere's genius. Although I have to admit, it gave these characters the rough, theater-life edge--it's hard to remember sometimes that they weren't terribly posh.

Will and beloved groundlings <3

* Elizabeth having multiple illegitimate children. Definitely plausible, but challenging. Elizabeth having multiple illegitimate children that really have no clue about each other--and nor do their parents. And then Liz ends up in a very... compromising relationship with one of them. 

I'm not a scholar of Shakespeare, but I do love my bit of Elizabethan/Tudor history. My reading is, admittedly, limited to Simon Schama and Alison Weir (have to recommend BOTH of these amazing author/historians who make history read like the most interesting fiction). Was Essex one of Elizabeth's illegitimate children? And the Earl of Southampton too--this one having Oxford as his father? And Oxford himself being one of Liz's children, which means, well, you know. 

Older Liz...

First--even though communications weren't what they are now, it would be pretty tough for Elizabeth to have had any clandestine children. She was always on display. And when she went on progress (the means for hiding said little b's away in the movie) it wasn't to hide away. However, it was an interesting twist to make the Earl of Southampton--to whom many sonnets, etc. are addressed--de Vere's son. The relationship between Shakespeare, de Vere, or whoever the writer was, has always been questioned--what was it? Platonic? Romantic? And my ears pricked up at the timeline--what things happened and when (and where IS Sir Robert Dudley in all of this?), but that would mean  having to look things up and I'm too lazy to do that at the moment. 

The point--the theory that Shakespeare didn't write his plays and Edward de Vere did is one worth pursuing, but the history here is quite stretchy.  With hundreds of years separating us from the facts, the culture, the times, there are some things that we'll just never know--but that leaves us wide open to all sorts of story telling and speculation. And that's ever so much fun!

A last thing that I absolutely loved was Edward de Vere's reasons for why he wrote--and I think every writer can relate...

Anne (his wife--and, I have to say, a really uptight bitch): My God. You're... writing again! Why must you write?

Edward: The voices, Anne. The voices. I can't stop them. They come to me. When I sleep, when I wake, when I sup, when I walk down the hall. The sweet larkings of a maid, the surging ambitions of a courtier, the foul designs of a murderer, the wretched pleas of his victims... only, when I put their voices, their words to parchment, are they cast loose free. Only then is my mind quieted, at peace. I would go mad if I didn't write down the voices. 

Anne: Are you possessed?

Edward: Maybe I am.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for your thoughtful and objective look at the film "Anonymous". I wish that more people could concentrate on the merits of the film without having to demonize anyone who may think differently. I'm not sure I buy into Queen E having all those kids, but there is evidence for at least Southampton. There are indications that she was sequestered several times outside of the castle for months at a time, so it does have some plausibility.

    If there is no connection between Elizabeth, Southampton, and de Vere, then why was Southampton released from execution by the Queen, something almost never done in a totalitarian state? If Southampton did not have a claim to the throne, why was he arrested and held for one day after Oxford died? Why indeed would the first 17 sonnets urge the fair youth (Southampton) to marry Oxford's daughter?

    At any rate, it was a fun movie and I really enjoyed your review.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Howard! Please feel free to post any reading recommendations--I read history for fun and am always looking for new material :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think I want to see this, so I only skimmed this review to avoid spoilers. Sounds like I really need to see this one.

    ReplyDelete