‘Anonymous’ is an affront to Shakespeare’s work
Wed, Nov 2, 2011 (5:12 p.m.)
All of the attention and controversy focused on Roland Emmerich’s tepid historical thriller Anonymous has been about the movie’s perspective on the writing of William Shakespeare, but the big problem with Anonymous is that it doesn’t actually care about Shakespeare’s work at all. The question of whether Shakespeare in fact wrote the pieces attributed to him is treated as little more than a plot device for a tiresome Elizabethan soap opera, featuring Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans), the Earl of Oxford, as the man behind the plays.
Emmerich (known for bombastic big-budget spectacles like 2012 and Independence Day) and screenwriter John Orloff reduce the plays to political tools divorced from artistry, spending more time on tedious, historically questionable conspiracies than on wordplay and theatricality. The loud, overwrought Anonymous is an affront to the richness and beauty of Shakespeare’s work—no matter who really wrote it.