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Vanessa Redgrave
David Thewlis
Rhys Ifans
Joely Richardson
Rafe Spall
Edward Hogg.
Roland Emmerich.
John Orloff.
Running Time
129 minutes

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4 Star Empire Rating
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Elizabethan England. Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans) is a key player in the intrigue of Elizabeth I's court, but is he also the man behind William Shakespeare's (Rafe Spall) plays?

Roland Emmerich's take on Shakespeare works as a very far-fetched ‘what if?’. It posits that Will Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) was not actually the author of the works that bear his name. They were, in fact, written by the 17th Earl Of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), who couldn’t publish them himself because writing plays was a bit common. It’s a conceit that literally goes all the way up to the president… well, the Queen. It’s completely preposterous but works within its own barking logic. But while the story works, the tone and performances are completely mismatched. Ifans suffers elegantly, but Spall is apparently in a bawdy romp and Vanessa Redgrave is looking for scenery to devour.

A curveball from the man who made 2012 and Independence Day and probably only a brief respite for the world's major cities.It's more of an interesting curio to a blockbuster career but there's fun to be had here if you look hard enough.

Reviewed by Phil de Semlyen

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Average user rating for Anonymous
Empire Star Rating

Mickey Mouse History Lesson

As a great fan of Shakespeare I thought this film would make me angry but it would need to put forward some kind of serious argument for that to happen. You would think that a film that is trying to put forward a compelling argument that history is wrong would make some effort not to include totally preposterous innaccuracies. I lost all respect for this movie when the Earl of Oxford actually picked a red and white tudor rose from a rose bush. That would be like a film about Walt Disney having a... More

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Posted by markwaters at 09:32, 12 July 2012 | Report This Post


For Dan Brown's lovers ... More

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Posted by bereski at 15:14, 13 November 2011 | Report This Post

Anonymous: A Damn Good Movie

Shakespeare anything is about everyone and everything but Shakespeare. Anonymous follows that well traveled path in this most excellent attempt to support the Oxfordian perspective that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford wrote the plays known as William Shakespeare because he was a noble, educated enough to write so majestically and so beautifully. Yet Shakespeare had enough education with the classics and the four 4s to accomplish the same end. Rhetoric being the most important and profound of... More

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Posted by leslo60 at 07:25, 01 November 2011 | Report This Post

If it wasn't Emmerich?

Well acted, looks good & the version of events is intriguing if nothing else. It's a shame it gets kind of lost in the conspiricy part of the story. Also can't help thinking that if the exact same film had been made by a well respected director the ratings would be higher ... More

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Posted by Stevie_G at 20:34, 31 October 2011 | Report This Post

Not a two star film

Really surprised this was given two stars. My fella wanted to see it and went with no expectations at all and really enjoyed it. Not really my genre but am so used to seeing sequels, prequels, reboots, blockbusters that do exactly what they say on the tin that was a surprise to see a 'big film' (especially by roland emmerich!) that was genuinely a bit different. Not saying greatest film ever and it is more of a curio but is not a two star film (especially after the new planet of the apes and... More

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Posted by jimmynew at 10:12, 31 October 2011 | Report This Post

RE: Anonymous

Thought it was great. Book-ended as a piece of theatre in of itself, the scenario it presents gets so crazed that what's on screen can't possibly be treated as historical document. The screenplay is absolutely FULL of incendiary material that takes very broad shots at every historical figure it contains. Shakespeare isn't the only one to get shafted, and doesn't even come off the worst, in my opinion. That said, in doing so it bares all the hallmarks of something that, ironically, bel... More

Posted by MoBiUGeArSkIn at 19:09, 30 October 2011 | Report This Post

RE: Excellent Era

I don't think the actual concept behind the film is really what makes it so questionable. The real issue is the series of fantastic actors that try and salvage a properly poor script. The dialogue is awkward and horribly stilted, although that did get better as the movie went on. Rafe Spall is cast as a slightly disjointed Shakespeare, which he may do fairly well but it is just distracting and he is capable of far better. Rhys Ifans is good enough, but his character encounters so many issues th... More

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Posted by forsa001 at 22:02, 28 October 2011 | Report This Post

Excellent Era

Whatever you think of the authorship question, this is a well-made and well-acted film set in one of the most intriguing periods of English history - an era with so many stories to tell. The filmmakers should be commended for that. - M. G. Scarsbrook, author of THE MARLOWE CONSPIRACY, an historical novel featuring Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare teaming up to expose a high-level government conspiracy. ... More

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Posted by M. G. Scarsbrook at 12:58, 28 October 2011 | Report This Post

Much Ado About Nothing

I might check out this movie even though its another attempt to discredit Ol Shaky by jealous types who think a relative of theirs was far more "educated." Great writers are born, not made. You either have an imagination or you don't, it can't be taught. The only name on those manuscripts is William Shakespeare, anything is else is just another conspiracy theory. ... More

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Posted by BenTramer at 15:32, 24 October 2011 | Report This Post

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