Director/producer Roland Emmerich is best known for his grand scale, huge-budget feature films – 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day – but October 28 brings the much-anticipated release of Anonymous, quite the departure from Emmerich’s usual fare of doomsday visual effects spankfests. Anonymous, made for a mere $30 million on location in Germany and written by screenwriter John Orloff, posits a question that has served as the life’s purpose for many scholars and academics: Was Shakespeare a fraud? The IMDB synopsis describes Anonymous thus: “A political thriller advancing the theory that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, who penned Shakespeare’s plays, set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I, and the Essex Rebellion against her.”
Controversy is ripe with the movie’s imminent release. Shakespeare enthusiasts in England have gone to great lengths to show their disdain for Emmerich’s project, including covering a memorial in Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford-Upon-Avon and removing his name from pub and road signs, all to remind folks of Shakespeare’s legacy and his innumerable, though oft-debated, contributions to the canon of English literature.
The cast is stellar: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Rafe Spall, Joely Richardson, Derek Jacobi, and Jamie Campbell Bower. The movie has a gorgeous interactive website to acquaint you with the myriad of players in Elizabethan England. Check it out here. What do you think, LitStackers? Was Shakespeare a fraud or a genius?