Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

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?


  1. I'm all in favour of seeing it for the costumes - I've seen many a movie for that reason alone.:)

    "many bastard children" (snicker) - and nobody noticed? - Also, when did she find time to do other things - like reign? Well, historical accuracy does not seem to be an overly high concern on this movie.;)

    But thanks for the review - I enjoyed it.:)


  2. @LRK-I know I shouldn't put spoilers in without a warning, but I couldn't resist the "many bastard children" slip. Apparently she just went on "progress" and then came back 20 lbs lighter! And nobody noticed!

    Glad you enjoyed the review and you will like the eye candy in this film. You may enjoy the unintended humour too. I did!

  3. Thanks for your honest review. I definitely want to see this film, though I don't believe in the hypothesis proposed. I'll watched it for pure entertainment, just as I did with "Shakespeare in love".
    I'll have to wait on. It'll be out on Nov. 18th here in Italy.

  4. Hi Maria Grazia! It's no Shakespeare in Love, but I think you will enjoy it. I believe you teach English Lit don't you? I will be interested to hear what you think of it. As long as you are just going for entertainment and not information, I think you will like it. Nov 18th will be here before you know it!

  5. I think I'll watch it on cable. I do like how the art department created 17th century England. Ironically, everyone thought Elizabeth's sister, Mary, was pregnant, but it turned out to be a tumor. Poor Mary. Nothing ever went right for her.

  6. @ Mary- Yes, this one, although pretty to look at on a big theatre screen, can certainly wait for the small screen.

    Poor old "Bloody Mary" with her baby tumour. That really is a sad story isn't it? So if that was common knowledge, how could Elizabeth pop out at least 3 bastard children without it being common knowledge? Although I suppose those dresses did conceal a lot...

  7. @Jenny Allworthy - About the dresses, I know what you mean, but then I thought... the skirt might, but what about the corset??? I've never been pregnant myself, but I don't think I'd fancy that - if it were even possible...

    Also, I've been thinking about the "progress" part - I'm no expert on Elizabethan England, goodness knows, but wouldn't she be under just as much scrutiny then as ever? Possibly more? I mean, she sets out with this great retinue, visiting - or inflicting herself - on various lords, who then were expected to provide entertainment for her. I'd imagine they'd be observing her pretty closely - to see if she was entertained or not, if nothing else!

    Just thinking - probably more than the subject deserves.:)


  8. @LRK- I totally agree with you. Who would have been more scrutinized than a single female monarch of child bearing age? And you're right, on progress, she would be exposed to more prying eyes than normal.

    I think they just threw the part in about the bastard children to put it over the top. And they succeeded!




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