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Anonymous (2011)

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The theory that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, who penned Shakespeare's plays. Set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I and the Essex rebellion against her.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Earl of Essex (as Sebastian Reid)
Paolo De Vita ...
Thomas Dekker
Thomas Nashe
Captain Richard Pole


Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, is presented as the real author of Shakespeare's works. Edward's life is followed through flashbacks from a young child, through to the end of his life. He is portrayed as a child prodigy who writes and performs A Midsummer Night's Dream for a young Elizabeth I. A series of events sees his plays being performed by a frontman, Shakespeare. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Was Shakespeare a Fraud?

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |

Release Date:

28 October 2011 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Anónimo  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,012,768 (USA) (28 October 2011)


$4,463,292 (USA) (9 December 2011)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Rafe Spall's father Timothy Spall appeared in Hamlet (1996) and Love's Labour's Lost (2000). See more »


Elizabeth I died in Spring, on March 24th 1603. It is unlikely that her funeral procession led over the frozen Thames. See more »


Ben Jonson: My lord, I... I am not worthy of this charge. I betrayed you.I told them of your...
Earl of Oxford: I have made it my life's work to know the character of men, Jonson. I know you. You may have betrayed me... but you will never betray my words.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Apart from the production companies, the only opening credit is the movie's title, displayed on the marquee of the prologue's theater. See more »


Referenced in Brows Held High: Mr. Nobody and Living in Bad Faith (2015) See more »


Night of the Long Knives
Written by Byrd & David Hirschfelder (as Hirschfelder)
Performed by David Hirschfelder
Courtesy of The Decca Music Group
Under licence from Universal Music Operations Ltd.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Was Shakespeare a front?
31 October 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Was William Shakespeare a front for an aristocrat who did not want his name revealed as the author? This movie is about political intrigue and how theater gets caught up in a larger struggle for power. The movie offers an interesting and controversial portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I and a glimpse of life in England at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The printing press was becoming a political weapon and those who published could influence the public, maybe to the point of rebellion. Hence, the need of the government to control what was being performed on stage. The stage served the same function of television does today. It was the medium of mass entertainment, which made the playwright a critical player in the politics of the time. Now, if Shakespeare was a front, then the question is: who wrote all these plays? Maybe it doesn't matter who actually wrote the plays but then again, maybe it does matter because by knowing the author, this may lead to new interpretations of the plays. Maybe these plays were political polemics produced under the guise of historical drama. Whatever the case, one thing is for certain: these plays made an impact on society that continues to reverberate to this day.

One other point. This movie is a work of fiction and so if it is loose with certain historical facts, so what? This movie is not a documentary. Rather, it is a fictional historical drama that revolves around a controversial and even shocking plot. Whether Shakespeare is the actual author of the works attributed to him is not the point. That is a matter for debate. What is the point is whether the movie works as a movie. The story is complex, yet the movie manages to engage the audience through strong acting and by presenting a story crammed with political intrigue. Who can say for certain what was going on in England 500 years ago? It is all a matter for speculation, based upon the available historical material, all of which is subject to interpretation. The idea of English writers bickering and fighting over the authorship of plays may seem trite and far fetched, but the conflict makes for good drama, even if it is pure fiction.

31 of 48 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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