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Roland Emmerich, best known for his disaster movies such as Independence Day and Godzilla, makes an about turn with this historical drama based the controversial debate: who was the author of the plays credited to William Shakespeare? A hot topic amongst experts and scholars for decades, Anonymous proposes one possibility - that it was Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans). The drama is set against the politics of the day and the succession of Queen Elizabeth I.

Ifans told MTV: "It's a story that asks the question and goes a long way to answering it: the theory, conspiracy theory if you like, that William Shakespeare was not necessarily the author of all, if any, of his works. So it will put a glorious [wrench] in... the English-speaking world of academia, which I have always endeavored to do, since I was a schoolchild."

Techheads may be interested to know that this is the first major full-length motion picture to be shot with the Arri ALEXA high-definition digital-video camera.


Directed by

Written by

Drama, Historical


Rating: M contains violence & sex scenes

UK, Germany

Official Site

The King of Disaster directing a costume drama? It seems about as likely as David Lynch tackling a Katherine Heigl romantic-comedy and yet here we are with Emmerich trying to persuade us not only that Shakespeare was a cypher but also that the director can do more than just blow stuff up. Well, despite the gravitas-baiting intro by old Shakespearian ham (sorry, hand) Derek Jacobi and the clever casting of mother/daughter Redgrave and Richardson as Elizabeth I, he fails to convince us of either.

This isn’t as bad as 10,000 B.C. (whose glacial pace made the ice age appear to pass quickly in comparison), with costumes and set design both top notch, but any hope of Emmerich and writer Orloff putting together a coherent argument is destroyed by muddled narrative that offers flashbacks within flashbacks and sudden jumps in time. It probably didn’t help having the Peter Crouch of British acting in the lead role; Ifans may be an effective presence but he’s ungainly and not exactly fashionable. Plus he sports a distracting smoky eye that Tyra Banks would be proud of.

A film that desperately wants to be Amadeus with its conspiracy thriller overtones, it instead feels more like Mozart’s Sister, a tale of a privileged person denied their artistic freedom who then decides to arse around with royalty. As for its central conceit, it makes the Hughes Brothers’ drug-fuelled Jack the Ripper conspiracy in From Hell look watertight in comparison and seems on a par with The Young Ones’ theory that Shakespeare wrote all his plays on a packet of bacon.

A.V. Club (USA)


It’s as dull as it is brainless...

Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)


All of that makes Anonymous a splendid experience: the dialogue, the acting, the depiction of London, the lust, jealousy and intrigue.

Empire (UK)


There's fun to be had here if you look hard enough.

Hollywood Reporter


The movie is glorious fun even as it grows increasingly implausible.


File this one in the category of entertaining historical fiction.

The Observer (UK)


Anonymous is a shoddy, witless companion piece, a crude costume drama.

Total Film (UK)


Slickly told, mildly diverting but ultimately fraudulent.

Variety (USA)


A handsomely staged and decidedly straight-ahead costume drama.

Shakey history - but a fun thriller

You thought BRAVEHEART played fast and loose with history? You ain't seen nothing yet! This is very well made but the research most likely consisted of five minutes on a sub-Wikipedia site... if there was any! Anyway, as a silly fantasy thriller - seen on its own terms - it's great fun. But for anyone who knows anything about um... dates and history and stuff you can actually proove, this is about as realistic as William Shatner's hairpiece! Roland Emmerich may be the king of disaster, but here his CGI cred's go into creating a beautiful vision of Shakespeare's London. So, two stars for the fun - but please, don't think this is the JFK of Shakespeare conspiracy tales! It's more like the MR BEAN version!



If nothing else this film taught me the correct spelling. No really, its a great film, but you need to understand its a history leason on Shakespere (possible history lesson) set in the back drop of the polictical times of this era. It is a masterful piece of costumes, sets (loved the transistion, you'll understand when you see it at the beginning an the end), history and political views, way more detailed than 'The Three Muskateers'. If you dont enjoy a good doco, or the works of Shakespere or even the occasional history lesson then steer clear, otherwise this is a great watch. Popcorn and chocolate galour while watching.

Genre : history, doco, drama

4/5 : I enjoyed this, but many may not due to the historical and polictical nature, slow paced in parts but makes you think, no what you're getting into before you book your tickets