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To be-lieve or not to be-lieve

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Mark Twain and Ralph Emerson, among others expressed doubts that one person alone could have written the 37 plays that we credit to Shakespeare's authorship. It is a reasonable doubt to have.


A few years back, Emmerich and Orloff created Anonymous, a movie (not the online hacktivists) to express T. Looney's belief that Shakespeare was a fraud. They go ahead and tell us the real writter was Ed De Vere, earl of oxford, who spent all his time writing, to the detriment of his artistocratic obligations. But because De Vere's son and Queen Liz I fell in love and had a kid, the evil advisors to the throne, the Cecils, decided that some hush hush was in order.


.... ok, sure.


Except.... that the problem of one man authorship is not resolved by replacing Shakespeare with De Vere, is it Roland Emmerich and John Orloff??






But there's more to this movie than just Shakespeare. De Vere gets to say in the movie, "All art is political, otherwise its just decoration".


So let's look at the artistic merit of the movie itself, and the political point that it is making.


Here's where James Shapiro's related article in the Guardian's comes handy...



Thanks to the miracle of computer-generated imagery, Anonymous does a stunning job of capturing the architectural details of Tudor London. But the pretence of historical realism ends there. An Elizabethan England that never had a standing army is recast as a police state, the Tower of London serving as a kind of Stalinist prison where dramatists go to betray each other to the authorities and those hauled in are roughed up. Soldiers hunting for seditious writing don't hesitate to set a public playhouse on fire. There's no room for civil liberties or a political counterweight in the film – no courts, civic authorities, preachers, privy council or Parliament.

Until De Vere comes along, Elizabethan public theatres are depicted as places where low-class actors perform silly plays written by dramatists so mediocre they can't imagine how anyone could compose an entire play in blank verse. De Vere's genius is so towering that it is unimaginable he could ever have been influenced by or collaborate with these lesser talents.





Yup, wouldn't you know it. The movie is an assault on anything resembling a middle class. De Vere is an looong visioned aristocrat. Shakespeare is a semi literate low life who is in it for the cash. The audience at the plays are basically a peasant mob, easily manipulated. Queen Liz I is promiscuous and conflicted.


Conclusion: this movie is historical revisionism for the 0.1% :)

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