Roland Emmerich’s new film Anonymous opens this weekend throughout North America. Anonymous is another conspiracy theory film, which runs with the premise that William Shakespeare never wrote any of his plays. Written by John Orloff, Anonymous creates a Elizabethan political thriller with Shakespeare being a pawn in the game. These speculations have been around since the 1700s. It was not until the 1920 book [amazon_link id=”0217145094″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Shakespeare Identified[/amazon_link] by J. Thomas Looney, did the Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship gain steam. While very few academics believe in this theory, it still persists. A. O. Scott of the New York Times reviews Emmerich’s film.
“Anonymous,” a costume spectacle directed by Roland Emmerich, from a script by John Orloff, is a vulgar prank on the English literary tradition, a travesty of British history and a brutal insult to the human imagination. Apart from that, it’s not bad.
First things first. The film’s premise is that the plays and poems commonly attributed to William Shakespeare are actually the work of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. This notion, sometimes granted the unwarranted dignity of being called a theory, is hardly new. It represents a hoary form of literary birtherism that has persisted for a century or so, in happy defiance of reason and evidence. The arrival of “Anonymous” has roused Shakespeareans more learned than I to the weary task of re-debunking
Read the rest of the review at ‘Anonymous,’ by Roland Emmerich – Review – NYTimes.com.