Sunday, October 30, 2011
Anonymous, The Film- My Review
Well, "The Squire" and I went to see Anonymous tonight. I was very skeptical going in as I don't buy into the premise of the film, namely that all the works of William Shakespeare were actually penned by a member of the aristocracy, one Earl of Oxford. So I decided to assess it on sheer entertainment value alone.
First of all, the acting is unquestionably wonderful. I think the acting and the costumes and the CGI flyovers of the streets of London are the reason to see this film. I especially adored the CGI version of the old London Bridge with all of the shops and houses perched along it, just as it would have been in Shakespeare's day. I did not like mistakes such as the use of the double ring marriage ceremony for the Earl of Oxford and his wife Anne Cecil. You don't have to be a historian to know that men didn't wear wedding rings regularly until the early 20th century. Ah, well...I suppose historical accuracy is unimportant to the man who directed Independence Day and 2012 (especially since this is supposed to be a revisionist history flick)!
Now if you take this story as fiction, which is what it is, (and don't let it raise your blood pressure) then you will probably enjoy it. It is certainly not one that I would want to own. It won't make your heart sing like Shakespeare in Love, which is a particular favourite of mine. However it is a political thriller at heart and not a romance, and it does the political thriller genre quite well I thought. The story revolves around who will succeed Queen Elizabeth for the throne upon her death. Will it be the Scottish King James, or will it be one of the apparently many bastard children to whom Queen Elizabeth gave birth over her lifetime (oops, spoiler!).
So you see how the fiction factor is particularly high in this film. Good thing too because hopefully this won't be introduced into high school curricula thus confusing the poor little things more than they already are.
Perhaps one of the good things about this film is that it will lead some of us to actually read up on documented Elizabethan history. I could certainly use a few more "facts" in my memory bank. Although as Jane Austen said:
“Real solemn history, I cannot be interested in....The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all -- it is very tiresome: and yet I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention."
Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey
So, I suppose if history is mostly invention, then we should be used to stories like this one by now. Winston Churchill said "History is written by the victors", and now it is written by the screenplay writers and directors too!
Seriously though, I liked it, but I wasn't lovin' it. A good rental perhaps?