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Anonymous (2011)

Rhys Ifans , Vanessa Redgrave , Roland Emmerich  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis, Sebastian Armesto, Rafe Spall
  • Directors: Roland Emmerich
  • Writers: John Orloff
  • Producers: Charlie Woebcken, Christoph Fisser, Henning Molfenter, John Orloff, Kirstin Winkler
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Chinese, English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 7, 2012
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0068MNO4S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,048 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Anonymous" on IMDb

Special Features

Commentary with Director Roland Emmerich and Writer John Orloff
Who Is The Real William Shakespeare?

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Set in the political snake-pit of Elizabethan England, Anonymous speculates on an issue that has for centuries intrigued academics and brilliant minds... who was the author of the plays credited to William Shakespeare? Anonymous poses one possible answer, focusing on a time when cloak-and-dagger political intrigue, illicit romances in the Royal Court, and the schemes of greedy nobles hungry for the power were exposed in the most unlikely of places: the London stage.

Historical romp Anonymous takes an academic controversy (did the man named Shakespeare write the plays attributed to him?) and whips it into a lurid melodrama, crammed with political intrigue, heaving bosoms, flashing swordplay, conspiracies, forced marriage, incest, and more. Towards the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans, Enduring Love), seeks an outlet for his poetic drive: he tries to get the playwright Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto) to present his plays as Jonson's own. Jonson is reluctant to undercut his own work… but his friend, a vainglorious illiterate actor by the name of William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall), happily claims the glory when Oxford's plays prove hugely popular. But the real story of Anonymous isn't about authorship, it's about machinations to capture the throne of England when Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave) dies. Wily counselors vie with dashing secret heirs, royal dallying leads to shocking secrets, and supposedly the plays are inextricably caught up in it all--except that they're not, really, and so Anonymous, for all its clever plotting and lush production values, falls flat by the end. Still, it's an enjoyable confection up to then, and showcases some lovely (if woefully historically inaccurate--the mosh-pit moment is delightfully preposterous) presentations of bits of the plays. Also featuring David Thewlis (Naked) and Joely Richardson, daughter of Ms. Redgrave, playing the younger Elizabeth. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
193 of 237 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The truth about Shakespeare lies elsewhere December 27, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I always accepted the idea that Shakespeare wrote his own plays, and considered anything to the contrary to be merely speculation not fact. So, the premise-what if Shakespeare never wrote a word, I found not to be appealing.

Upon reading some good reviews, I decided to see it, and found it to be a high quality production and a wonderful experience. Director Roland Emmerich previously directed 2012, and Independence Day, and writer John Orloff previously wrote some episodes of Band of Brothers, and as you watch this movie you will realise this term BoB originated with Shakespeare.

Anonymous proposes the Earl of Oxford wrote all the plays, anonymously donated them to Ben Johnson, a well known writer of the time for him to take credit. Then an uncouth illiterate actor, named Shakespeare steps in to claim the credit. The peer remained anonymous for reasons of social acceptability.

Another reason he may have remained anonymous which I totally loved was the parallel structure between what happened in the plays, and the real life events of the courtiers and Queen Elizabeth. Cecil, the courtier villain in this movie is a hunchback (historical fact), and brother in law of the Earl of Oxford. Richard 3 in Shakespeare's play is a hunchback, so the play becomes a social satire.

A scene where a man is stabbed through a curtain mirrors a scene in Hamlet. A usurped heir is sent to Ireland, and there is a plot to kill him, similar to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet.

Emmerich's direction gives Anonymous a much grander scope.
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138 of 181 people found the following review helpful
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Roland Emmerich's new film, Anonymous, is inspired by the same theory that gripped Sigmund Freud during the last dozen years of his life--that "William Shakespeare" was the pseudonym and front man of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford (1550-1604). When you see this film and ponder its thesis, I hope you will remind yourself that Freud was passionately intrigued by the likelihood that de Vere was Shakespeare. Before long, I predict Freud will be vindicated. The film has generated much debate, some of it acrimonious. Yet the Anonymous website has a poll showing that only 51% of visitors still believe the traditional author wrote the canon.

When his wife Anne pleads with de Vere to stop writing plays, he replies, "The voices! I can't stop them. They come to me. I would go mad if I didn't write down what the voices say." This is an intriguing surmise about de Vere's creative process, as though his Muse speaks to him aloud. In fact, I suspect that some form of unusual awareness and tolerance of multiple self states plays a crucial role for some literary geniuses such as de Vere.

Psychoanalysts are in a unique position to elucidate the psychology of literary anonymity and pseudonymity. The evidence suggests that keeping one's authorship secret helps promote what Keats called Shakespeare's "negative capability"--keeping his own identity in the background as he created hundreds of utterly convincing characters. In a sense, Edward de Vere's most magical character of all was his pseudonym and front man, "William Shakespeare." With some likely assistance from the man from Stratford, this character lives on for most people more vividly than does de Vere himself. Why did de Vere have to conceal his authorship? For many reasons. Nobility did not write for the common theater.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film!!! February 4, 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Highly recommend this film. Rhys Ifans is fantastic and the screenplay is outstanding. Very underrated and fascinating take on Shakespeare.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie - should of gotten more attention January 10, 2014
By Danny
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was teaching a class on Shakespeare and the authorship question came up. I began to research the latest theories concerning this issue and stumbled upon this film and showed a preview to the students. The movie trailer looked very interesting and I ended up buying the movie off of Amazon. I couldn't find it anywhere else. The movie gives a very dramatic theory as to who really wrote the works of Shakespeare and it was very entertaining. It is a film that takes some very dramatic liberties with the whole issue and the only downfall is that people watching the movie might think that because it is a movie...that it must be the gospel truth. It is not. The movie really stretches some of the known facts to make their "story" work. It is great fun however and it does bring out some new questions. The film is very well made and the acting is excellent. It is a shame that this movie didn't do well in the box office and that it isn't more well known. I would be a little nervous about showing this to high school is PG-13...but I wouldn't show it. I did, however, come back and discuss some of the movie and focused on the long debate that the Earl of Oxford was the one that wrote the plays. We began look at other theories too. The DVD version does have a "behind the scenes" feature that has the director and screenwriter discussing their process in making the movie and this would be something that would great for students to look at. Even if you don't use the film for is still very enjoyable for anyone who loves the bard and the great authorship mystery. I highly recommend the move...just is a movie.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars So many mysteries and we are getting better at solving them
So many mysteries and we are getting better at solving them. Believing what we're told no longer flies in post modern culture where we can all read and write -- and (potentially)... Read more
Published 7 days ago by E. West
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a Splendid Experience!
One of my favorite films. I cannot believe it was a "flop." This political thriller continues to enthrall me after dozens of watches. Read more
Published 8 days ago by E. White
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful and intelligent movie.
A very well told tale that demonstrates an intelligent and deep appreciation of the political and artistic culture of Renaissance England as it articulates a fictionalized version... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Richard W. Mixter
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm not assuming expertise in great film making but I thoroughly...
What a phenomenal work of art. The grand-sweeping scenes worked well with the close up and personal ones. The dialog was near Shakespearean but more modern and accessible. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Landers68
3.0 out of 5 stars Much Ado, then nothing
The theory behind it is paper thin (see the book "Contested Will" elsewhere on this site) but the movie itself has its moments. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Louann Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfide i watched it...
Great production on the writer's life.Outstanding acting,etc It is a DVD you want to keep, watch over, over and still get something out of it...
Published 26 days ago by Victor A. Bucheli
5.0 out of 5 stars Shake the Spear of poetic justice!
Great film on the Shakespeare myth ... but who really wrote all the plays? Honestly i doubt it was the small countrysider that worked in the playhouse looking after the horses and... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Mondomacabro
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Hard hitting historical fiction
Published 1 month ago by Tyler Glover
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Anglophiles
Great movie...the acting, cinematography, costuming, and locales were excellent. There was a lot of intrigue but it was a little more violent than I expected. Read more
Published 1 month ago by nwdiva
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good movie.
Published 1 month ago by JorgeLamo
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