Deep in the eye of the storm of prepping my own upcoming feature White Frog, I had the privilege to catch a private screening of Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous, one of the most successful queer Hollywood directors’ take on the authorship of Shakespeare. A sumptuous and complex epic of literary intrigue, Anonymous stars the ever fabulous Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth I who bears a forbidden relationship to one of the greatest literary figures of English literature.
If Shakepeare in Love is a comedy, then Anonymous certainly fashions itself after a Shakespeare tragedy. It’s admirable that the Hollywood director who once blew up the White House applied his skills in such a masterful way to reconstruct Elizabethan England with CGI effects. In that respect, Anonymous is truly a visual and technical marvel as Mr. Emmerich explained after his screening on the Sony lot that the entire movie was made in Germany with green screens, sets and off-the-shelf software bearing a modest budget of USD$ 35 million dollars.
Literary critics will balk at taking the movie or its controversial theory seriously but it really isn’t a movie for literary critics. It’s a complicated and darkly entertaining tale shattering the common men and women’s respect for two of the most revered figures in English history. Without a doubt, some people who take the movie seriously will be offended.
If you love movies about English queens and Shakespeare, it’s a must that you check out the movie. Performances are well-rounded from the usual English suspects from Derek Jacobi to David Thewlis. Roland said that Sony has planned to roll out the film in the fall… so watch out for it.
At the end of the movie, it dawned on me that it wasn’t really important who wrote Shakespeare’s plays. It was his words and their existence until now that mattered. Time will ultimately be the judgement of truth and art. So be it.
And may God save the queen… literally!