Screening Room – ANONYMOUS

(KTSF by Sean Au)Many will argue that William Shakespeare is the most successful playwright in history but coming from a humble illiterate family, the true identity of Shakespearean plays often comes into question. ANONYMOUS creates the link between the Bard and the Crown and offers an alternative version of 16th century England.

Under the interpretation of Director Roland Emmerich, the  plays in question came under the quills of Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans). For personal and political reasons, he could not reveal that he was the creator of such literary feats. By a twist of fate, William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) stepped up and became the celebration of The Globe Theatre and its patrons. ANONYMOUS also tells the love story between Edward and Queen Elizabeth I (Joely Richardson). Here is another relationship that could not be pursued, a source of Edward’s agony.

Emmerich’s past Hollywood ventures takes liberty with science and history (Independence Day, 2012, 10,000 BC), far stretching the imaginiation of the young audience. And just like his previous works, a special effects spectacle is expected in ANONYMOUS, and Emmerich does satisfy in the re-creation of London some four centuries ago. A few gunfire scenes were filmed with constraint. Photography is inspiring, especially the countless candlelit scenes that seem to transfer museum paintings to moving images on the silver screen. It is pretty splendid and impressive to see the montage of plays showing the best lines of countless Shakespearean plays like MACBETH and JULIUS CAESAR.

Performances from the British actors are flawless. Rhy Ifans captures the intricate nuances of a man in pain through his eyes and the way he rests on his cane. Vanessa Regrave who plays the old version of the Queen, creates another memorable portrayal of the famous queen.

Let’s not forget to mention that this is a work of fiction. Whether the story is a true presentation of historical events should not bear an importance in the enjoyment of this film, which I must say, stands out easily among the works of Roland Emmerich. Some may raise the legitimacy of Shakespeare as the rightful author of these plays. Well, if Emmerich can stir up an age old controversy with control and constraint, I say this makes ANONYMOUS a well admired success.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Video courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

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(Copyright 2011 KTSF.  All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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