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.


Roland Emmerich


John Orloff
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Rhys Ifans ... Earl of Oxford
Vanessa Redgrave ... Queen Elizabeth I
Sebastian Armesto ... Ben Jonson
Rafe Spall ... William Shakespeare
David Thewlis ... William Cecil
Edward Hogg ... Robert Cecil
Xavier Samuel ... Earl of Southampton
Sam Reid ... Earl of Essex (as Sebastian Reid)
Jamie Campbell Bower ... Young Earl of Oxford
Joely Richardson ... Young Queen Elizabeth I
Paolo De Vita Paolo De Vita ... Francesco
Trystan Gravelle ... Christopher Marlowe
Robert Emms ... Thomas Dekker
Tony Way ... Thomas Nashe
Julian Bleach ... 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 | Plot Synopsis


Was Shakespeare a Fraud?


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Roland Emmerich self-financed the entire movie. The past financial earnings of his previous movies allowed him the money and total control of this movie without studio interference. See more »


When Edward is talking to Southampton and Essex about 'bringing the mob' his right hand switches between resting on top of his cane and grasping the shaft when the shot changes from front to back. See more »


Ben Jonson: Politics? My play has nothing to do with politics. I-i-i-it's just a simple comedy.
Earl of Oxford: It showed your betters as fools who'd go through life barely managing to get food from plate to mouth were it not for the cleverness of their servants. All art is political, Jonson, otherwise it would just be decoration. And all artists have something to say, otherwise they'd make shoes. And you are not a cobbler, are you Jonson.
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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 »


Featured in Last Will & Testament (2012) 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.
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User Reviews

Hysteria His Story or To Thine Own Self Be False
1 November 2011 | by jadepietroSee all my reviews

This film is not recommended.

With apologies to Shakespeare, the true talent, thus, my feeble attempt at (mostly) iambic pentameter:

Anonymous, a film of cheese and ham, Questions the legend of Shakespeare, William, Whose work it claims the sole property of, Edward DeVere's, Earl, and a class above, Theory and conjecture, Will's name to malign, A film not noble, literate, or refined, Its tale quite shallow, protesting too much, Spouting nonsense, drivel, dreck, and such.

A production with much to admire, Before all logic begins to expire, Sensationally, a work of fiction, Unconvincing in its own conviction, Visual spectacle, or farce, perhaps, Intelligence and wit well nigh elapse, Although I may seem to kvetch and complain, This film ultimately doth entertain.

The thespians display their skills and crafts, While unintentionally providing laughs, Over-emoting as they misbehave, The likes of Jacobi and Ladies Redgrave, Rhys Ifans well plays lover and writer, Were only Orloff's script a bit tighter, Rafe Spall's the bard as wretched sot, an eyeful, Poor Will should sue for slander and libel.

Disaster, thine mainstay of Emmerich, Part director, part showman, his prime niche, For depth and clarity, he will not delve, Note: Independence Day and 2012, Whilst not the disaster we've come to expect, The film has little to awe or respect, It plays fast with the facts, and offers nil, Except sets, that in some measure, fulfill.

With all its pomp and expensive wrappings, Lavish costumes doth not disguise its trappings, But thy foul temper and malaise spills forth, Yielding a vile film of lesser worth, A ill-conceived venture, shrill, and unkind, Outlandishly ornate and out of its mind, A stylish film, yet so misbegotten, One hopes Anonymous is soon well forgotten.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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UK | Germany | USA

Release Date:

28 October 2011 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Anonymous See more »

Filming Locations:

Germany See more »


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,021,768, 30 October 2011

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS | Datasat



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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