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4.0 4
Director: Roland Emmerich

Cast: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Sebastian Armesto


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Director Roland Emmerich takes a break from his long string of big-budget disaster films with Anonymous, a historical drama that suggests Shakespeare was a fraud. Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans) is an aristocrat who yearns to write poetry and plays, but due to social and political constraints, he is


Director Roland Emmerich takes a break from his long string of big-budget disaster films with Anonymous, a historical drama that suggests Shakespeare was a fraud. Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans) is an aristocrat who yearns to write poetry and plays, but due to social and political constraints, he is forced to use a front for his political-minded works because they subtly encourage Queen Elizabeth to alter her plan for succession in a way that is in direct opposition to her most-trusted political advisers. When drunken, illiterate, fame-hungry actor William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) passes off the plays as his own, de Vere finds his man, but eventually he is blackmailed when the morally dubious thespian wants more and more. Anonymous screened at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
In Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the commoners who populated the cramped standing-room-only section below the stage were referred to as the groundlings. These were the members of the audience who supposedly wanted ribald humor, mayhem, and good old-fashioned entertainment from their theater experiences. Director Roland Emmerich's entire career has been about making movies for the modern-day equivalent of the groundlings. But with Anonymous, his historical drama set in Shakespearean times, Emmerich ambitiously aims to please the entire theater. The movie stars Rhys Ifans as Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. De Vere is a writer and poet, although his position in court and his wife's sensibilities prevent him from making his work -- with its very obvious political leanings -- public. He's opposed to the influence that the Essex family hold over Queen Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave), and he attempts to turn public opinion against them by finding someone else to take public credit for his politically charged work. That way, plays like Richard III and Macbeth can be performed and will change the opinions of the common man. He first attempts to hire Ben Johnson (Sebastian Armesto), the creative director of the Globe Theater, but when he balks because of the possibility of being arrested, an illiterate actor named William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) quickly takes credit for the plays. Now, as the elderly Queen faces a choice about the line of succession, Edward's secret past with her is about to be revealed, and the British people are whipped into a frenzied mob thanks to the power of the theater. Right from the opening scene, a preamble featuring Derek Jacobi arriving at a theater and delivering a monologue that entertainingly and swiftly establishes the themes, setting, and tone of the entire film, it's apparent that Emmerich isn't out of his league at all. Thanks to a solid script by John Orloff and a very game cast, the director thrusts us into the middle of a complicated political battle without ever confusing us. And once we understand the various factions that are maneuvering for influence, de Vere's plan becomes even more engrossing, since he's been emotionally attached to the Queen for nearly his entire life; for Edward, it's personal, not political. Ifans shines as the center of the movie. Although he's still best known for his comedic work -- his signature role was the uncouth Welsh roommate in Notting Hill -- he's got dramatic chops as well, something anyone who saw Greenberg can affirm. Ifans makes de Vere a complicated figure, a man who understands that he has a remarkable talent, but who quickly learns that being able to create beautiful works of art is no guarantee of happiness. De Vere is a dour man trapped in a bad marriage, beset on all sides by forces who know more than he does. He's a charismatically tragic figure, making it entirely plausible that he could create some of the most-tragic characters in the history of the English language. Emmerich still doesn't entirely abandon his signature set pieces. There's a march on a castle that features thousands of extras -- or at least thousands of CGI extras -- and there are seedy rumors about Edward's past that give the film a gossipy kick. Also, you don't need to know anything beyond the basics of Shakespeare to appreciate Anonymous, and it doesn't leave you out in the cold as long as you recognize the names of his most-famous plays. However, the movie is indeed inspired by the conspiracy theory that Shakespeare's works were written by someone else, with de Vere's name floated as one potential candidate. None of that, however, need concern audience members. After all, the man responsible for modern-day disaster epics like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 is still more interested in entertaining his audience than in serving up a dry historical examination. The thought of Emmerich tackling this subject matter is as incongruous as Charlie Sheen becoming a national spokesman for the Latter Day Saints. But, to his credit, he's taken his main character's ambitions to heart. Anonymous works as a period political thriller, a tragic romance, and a history lesson; it plays well to both the groundlings and the wealthy patrons who can afford plush seats. And that's something hardly anyone expected from Emmerich.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Commentary with Director Roland Emmerich and Writer John Orloff; Deleted scenes; Who is the real William Shakespeare?

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Rhys Ifans Earl of Oxford
Vanessa Redgrave Queen Elizabeth I
Sebastian Armesto Ben Johnson
Rafe Spall William Shakespeare
David Thewlis William Cecil
Edward Hogg Robert Cecil
Xavier Samuel Earl of Southampton
Sebastian Reid Earl of Essex
Jamie Campbell Bower Young Earl of Oxford
Joely Richardson Young Queen Elizabeth I
Paolo DeVita Francesco
Trystan Gravelle Christopher Marlowe
Robert Emms Thomas Dekker
Tony Way Thomas Nashe
Julian Bleach Captain Richard Pole
Derek Jacobi Prologue
Alex Hassell Spencer
James Garnon Heminge
Mark Rylance Condell
Jasper Britton Pope
Michael Brown Sly
Ned Dennehy Interrogator
John Keogh Philip Henslowe
Lloyd Hutchinson Richard Burbage
Vicky Krieps Bessie Vavasour
Helen Baxendale Anne De Vere
Paula Schramm Bridget De Vere
Amy Kwolek Young Anne De Vere
Luke Taylor Boy Earl of Oxford
Isaiah Michalsky Boy Robert Cecil
Timo Huber Boy Earl of Southampton
Richard Durdan Archbishop
Shaun Lawton Footman
Detlef Bothe John De Vere
James Clyde King James l
Christian Sengewald Cecil's Spy Servant
Jean-Loup Fourure Monsieur Beaulieu
Viktoria Gabrysch Buxom Lady
Axel Sichrovsky Essex General
Katrin Pollit Ladies-in-Waiting
Patricia Grove Ladies-in-Waiting
Laura Lo Zito Selling Maid
Gode Benedix Groundling
Nic Romm Usher
Henry Lloyd-Hughes Bear Baiter
Patrick Diemling Oxford's Servant
Patrick Heyn Oxford's Doctor
Nino Sandow Stage Manager (New York)
Craig Salisbury Dwarf / Puck
Rainer Guldener Quince
Trystan Wyn Pütter Bottom
Andre Kaczmarczyk Titania
Jonas Hammerle Child Oberon
Leonard Kinzinger Child Titania
Mike Maas Pole's Commander

Technical Credits
Roland Emmerich Director,Producer
Peter R. Adam Editor
Manfred Banach Sound Mixer
Hubert Bartholomae Sound/Sound Designer
Lisy Christl Costumes/Costume Designer
Leo Davis Casting
Christopher Doll Asst. Director
Gabriela Dumitrescu Choreography
Volker Engel Executive Producer
Sabine Engelberg Art Director
Anna Evenkamp Makeup
Gerd Feuchter Special Effects Supervisor
Christoph Fisser Co-producer
Anna Foerster Cinematographer
Larry Franco Producer
Kim Fredericksen Art Director
Lissy Holm Casting
Harald Kloser Score Composer
Sebastian Krawinkel Production Designer
Julia Lechner Makeup
Robert Leger Producer
Henning Molfenter Co-producer
John Orloff Executive Producer,Original Story,Screenwriter
Helmut Rühl Makeup
Sabine Schumann Makeup
Daniela Skala Makeup
Stefan Speth Art Director
Bryce Tibbey Art Director
Thomas Wander Score Composer
Christiane Weber Makeup
Marc Weigert Executive Producer
Kirstin Winkler Co-producer
Charlie Woebcken Co-producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Anonymous
1. Chapter 1 [10:02]
2. Chapter 2 [7:39]
3. Chapter 3 [9:50]
4. Chapter 4 [10:09]
5. Chapter 5 [6:09]
6. Chapter 6 [6:08]
7. Chapter 7 [8:14]
8. Chapter 8 [6:40]
9. Chapter 9 [6:17]
10. Chapter 10 [8:13]
11. Chapter 11 [:19]
12. Chapter 12 [10:25]
13. Chapter 13 [5:52]
14. Chapter 14 [7:14]
15. Chapter 15 [8:30]
16. Chapter 16 [6:01]


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Anonymous 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Whisperlynn More than 1 year ago
There may be pre-conceived opinions about this film dur to the nature...if that is the case, you should not be reading reviews, you have already made your decision. For those who enjoy period films, particularly interpretations of actual historical figures, and have no strong attachments to a glorified persona of William Shakespeare this film will delight you! I am a fan of Shakespeare works, but have never really delved into the back-stories of the era. As it turns out, there is a rather large movement who believe that William Shakespeare was not in fact a writer but a facade for a nobleman writer so that his controversial and politically satiric stories could be seen without backlash at court. This and a few other conpiracy theories surrounding Elizabeth I set the stage for Anonymous and provide a rollicking good watch drenched in drama, satire, and passion. This film does not pretend to be a true account but rather presents a view of what may very possibly have been...I will watch this film over and over again for the refreshing take on a beautiful period and the magnificent acting throughout - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vranitzky More than 1 year ago
The story is perfectly ludicrous, indulging in the weirdest fringes of the Oxfordian "theory". Emmerich and his writer are why this film sucks. BUT -- Emmerich at least knew enough to hire good people, talented directors of Shakespearean theater to direct the excerpts from the various plays, expert costume designers knowledgeable in the period, historians who actually know their Elizabethan London and directed the excellent cgi team in recreating it for the big screen -- and the acting is generally quite good. So we have a weird case of a film masterminded by idiots but implemented by real artisans, and as a result it's worth watching for the acting, and the costumes, and the sets, and the theater productions, and the recreation of London -- just not for the story, which is among the more idiotic ever set to screen. Really, the artisanal aspects are so good that the film would otherwise deserve 3.5 stars -- but only gets two because the idiocy of the storytelling is THAT pronounced! I mean, Shakespeare's works were not only supposedly written by the Earl of Oxford, but oh yes did we also tell you that the Earl of Oxford was not only the illegitimate son of Queen Elizabeth but grew up to become her secret lover, by whom she then became pregnant with her own granddaughter? Yes, that's the storyline here folks, presented in all high seriousness and with no irony and less wit.