6.9/10
37,196
138 user 289 critic

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.

Director:

Roland Emmerich

Writer:

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

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Was Shakespeare a Fraud?

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Germany | USA

Release Date:

28 October 2011 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Anónimo See more »

Filming Locations:

Germany See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,012,768, 30 October 2011, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,463,292

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$15,395,087
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS | Datasat

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Vanessa Redgrave previously played Queen Elizabeth I's mother Anne Boleyn in A Man for All Seasons (1966). See more »

Goofs

Benjamin Johnson was released from prison then presented to his redeemer The Earl of Oxford. The Earl refers to his wife and Johnson and his companion (The Earl's man) bow towards the Lady. The camera changes to a long shot and we see only Johnson rising from the bow. His companion does not. See more »

Quotes

Earl of Oxford: All art is political, Jonson. Otherwise it would just be decoration.
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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 »

Connections

Featured in Brows Held High: Anonymous (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

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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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Anonymous -- Hacking history
22 January 2012 | by UncleTantraSee all my reviews

These days, the term "Anonymous" conjures up visions of unknown activists trying to influence history from the wings. They write things, and that writing changes society. In his film of the same name, director Roland Emmerich seems to be suggesting that this idea is not exactly new, and that the plays and poems attributed to William Shakespeare were essentially motivated by the same desire. He takes the age-old mystery of "Who really wrote Shakespeare's plays?" and turns it into a political thriller.

If it's difficult for you to imagine a historical costume drama done by the director of "Universal Soldier," "Stargate," "Independence Day," "Godzilla," "The Day After Tomorrow" and "2012," you are not alone. :-) I suspected that the screenplay (by John Orloff) came first, and that Emmerich discovered it and became enamored of it, and a quick trip to the IMDb verifies that this intuition was correct. It also informs me that Emmerich, taking advantage of the money he made on the previous films, paid for this whole movie out of his own pocket, so that he could have full control of the film, without interference from any studio. It shows.

It's not a bad movie at all. And this is something I never thought I'd find myself saying about a Roland Emmerich movie. The cast is simply to die for: Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth the elder; her daughter Joely Richardson as Elizabeth the younger; Rafe Spall as Shakespeare (a talentless clod of an actor); Sebastian Arnesto as Ben Johnson (a talented playwright, but not even in the same galaxy of greatness as the author of Shakespeare's plays); David Thewlis as William Cecil; Edward Hogg as Robert Cecil; Derek Jacobi doing the prologue; Jaime Campbell Bower (from "Camelot") as the younger Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford; and Rhys Ifans as the older Edward de Vere, and the real author of Shakespeare's work.

As presented, the plot is not at all a scholarly argument for the Earl of Oxford's authorship of these plays. It is instead a clever reimagining of historical events (some treated as loosely as Shakespeare himself treated actual history) to turn the answer to the mystery that scholars argue about into a taut political thriller. In Orloff's/Emmerich's vision, Edward de Vere wrote the plays and published them under someone else's name for no less a reason that to foment revolution, change the course of history, and determine the next king of England.

And damnit, that reimagining kinda worked for me. The sets and costumes are pitch perfect, the performances are good, and the potential is there for a good time to be had by all. Like anything related to Shakespeare, the more you know about him and his work, the better this film will be for you. There are so many asides and in-jokes that I cannot begin to go into them. Orloff really did his research. Except for the part about Edward de Vere having died before at least 10 of Shakespeare's plays were written, that is. But that's just a nitpick, and should not stand in the way of writing a good drama. Those kinds of historical nitpicks did not deter Shakespeare, and they don't deter Orloff and Emmerich. All of them understand that "The play's the thing," and that history doesn't mean diddleysquat compared to that.


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