Saturday, October 29, 2011

Our First Movie! "Anonymous"

"Artists have something to say, otherwise they’d just made shoes. Are you a cobbler, Mr. Jonson?"

Tonight, M. and I thought it might be fun, given our interests, to go see “Anonymous”, the Shakespeare-conspiracy film that was released yesterday. This was my first time in a movie theater in about two years, so the whole experience felt very new and exciting. We went not because we were expecting a compelling argument for Anti-Stratfordism, we went because we wanted to see what they were going to do with the theory.
I’ll tell you what they did. They went crazy. They went no-holds-barred, not a single shred of historical evidence crazy. They went incest and royal intrigue crazy. The whole thing was done as a sort of nonsensical meta-narrative, narrated by one Sir Derek Jacobi of the Royal Shakespeare Company. While Mr. Jacobi is a leading anti-Stratfordist, and specifically and Oxfordian, I was shocked he would put his name on such a flagrantly ridiculous farce of a movie.
I don’t want to go too far into the plot, since some of you may want to go see it, but I must inform you going in that apparently the majority of England’s earldoms circa about 1600 (I guess? The chronology of the events, like the rest of the movie, is totally detached from anything that ever actually happened) were held by a slew of the Queen’s (yes, good Queen Bess, the Virgin Queen) beautifully blonde, androgynous bastard children, all of different fathers to whom she gave birth to and had spirited away while she was “on progress”.
To its credit, this movie was visually stunning. The costumes, architecture, and technology of the time were all totally anachronistic, but beautiful. It was also very well acted, for what it was. The fellow that played Ben Jonson, around whom much of the action focused, was really quite good, as was Jamie Campbell Bower (a striking young Edward de Vere).1
As I said, chronologically this movie is junk. Plays appear to come out in an order that does not even vaguely resembled the order, or the years in which they were actually published. Elizabeth I has a veritable legion of sons, there was an enormous peasant massacre on the London Bridge that never actually happened, and it is implied- no, it is explicitly stated, that Christopher Marlowe was murdered by William Shakespeare (who is, by the way, represented here as a drunken, carousing, illiterate2 boor). I could go on for pages, but I’ll spare you.
All that being said, did we have a good time? Absolutely. It’s a good-looking, fun misrepresentation of history, and a good movie to play spot-the-inaccuracy with. Someone on set while filming described it as a “certifiably loony fantasia”. Sounds about right to us.
1.Here M. disagrees with me, a frankly looks a little nauseous.
2. The people who made this film wrote away the issue of Shakespeare having been an actor by saying that he was illiterate, meaning for some reason that he could read perfectly well but could not write at all.

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