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Anonymous (2011)

PG-13 | | Drama, Thriller | 28 October 2011 (UK)
7:58 | Trailer

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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.


Roland Emmerich


John Orloff
3,316 ( 2,074)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 8 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:

View content advisory »



UK | Germany | USA

Release Date:

28 October 2011 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Anónimo See more »

Filming Locations:

Germany See more »


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

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

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS | Datasat



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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 »


In the movie, Ben Jonson is called the son of a glass maker. In fact, Jonson's father, who died a month before Jonson was born, was a clergyman, and his stepfather was a bricklayer. See more »


Ben Jonson: You are the soul of the age... Undeniable perfection that plagued my soul.
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 Roland Emmerich - Mein Leben (2009) 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

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User Reviews

Was Shakespeare a Fraud?
28 September 2011 | by moviewizguySee all my reviews

Set in the political snake-pit of Elizabethan England, Anonymous speculates on an issue that has for centuries intrigued academics and brilliant minds such as Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Sigmund Freud, namely: who actually created the body of work credited to William Shakespeare? Experts have debated, books have been written, and scholars have devoted their lives to protecting or debunking theories surrounding the authorship of the most renowned works in English literature. Anonymous poses one possible answer, focusing on a time when scandalous political intrigue, illicit romances in the Royal Court, and the schemes of greedy nobles lusting for the power of the throne were brought to light in the most unlikely of places: the London stage. -- (C) Sony Pictures

As an average movie-goer, I had no idea that Shakespeare's authorship was ever questioned. I didn't know there were theories that existed that other people might have been the true author of the plays, one of which the film focuses on is Oxford. But as far as what ANONYMOUS achieves, it certainly opened my mind as an individual that there is a possibility that another person might have been the true writer of the plays. I mean, why not? It makes the whole thing pertaining to Shakespeare's plays much more interesting. At the most basic level, ANONYMOUS does one thing right: It's damn interesting and entertaining.

Even as a person who never liked Shakespeare's plays (especially the dreaded ROMEO AND JULIET), the film manages to be involving. I was compelled throughout the film, and what makes it work are the actors. Most of them are on the top of their game, including Rhys Ifans who is unrecognizable as Oxford compared to his role in HARRY POTTER 7 PT.1. Even his stares are intense. Rafe Spall as William Shakespeare seems to have a field day with his role, portraying him as an attention-seeking, moneygrubbing actor. I'd also like to point out that Sebastian Armesto, playing Ben Jonson, seems to have an unexpected greater amount of sreentime than anyone else in the film, and he does well in his role as the aspiring writer who plays as a messenger between Oxford and Shakespeare.

Another interesting thing to point out is that the film really doesn't focus on the whole authorship debate a lot. We see that Oxford is the writer giving the scripts to Ben, but other than that, the film pretty much brushes it off to the side and, instead, focuses more on the relationship between Oxford and Queen Elizabeth I as well as the Essex Rebellion. As you can tell, the cast is pretty huge, and I have to admit the first 20 minutes of the film is pretty confusing. We're introduced to a world with many characters and time periods jumping all over the place, but it gets easier to grasp once you get to know the characters.

Overall, ANONYMOUS is an interesting and entertaining film that will get people talking about who the real author of the plays are. The least anyone would get out of it is two hours of a fun "what if?" scenario. The performances by the cast is what really makes the film, though. If it wasn't for the cast, the film wouldn't have worked. Additionally, haters of director Roland Emmerich might find themselves pleased that ANONYMOUS is a character-driven film that doesn't rely on things being destroyed every five minutes. I'd like to see him make more films like this.

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