Friday, September 30, 2011

Anonymous (2011) The New Yorker Festival 2011

John, Bully and I went to the screening of Roland Emmerich's Anonymous at the New Yorker Festival earlier tonight. I'll be brief since John and I are still trying to work out who is going to do the long review.

The short review goes some thing like this:

This is a big beautiful mess of a masterpiece. Its one of my favorite films of the year. Forget any notion of real history, its a complete mess, however as a romantic drama that is infused with history and politics its top notch.

The premise of the film is that Shakespeare's plays were actually written by the Earl of Oxford who handed them over to Ben Johnson who then had them stolen by Shakespeare...As all of that is going on court intrigue is in full swing as there are moves being made to determine who is going to end up on the English throne after Elizabeth.

When this opens in theaters in a month forget the controversy about the history and just go for the drama. Its a blast. Its the sort of thing that's so good it will get you to actually want to see a Shakespeare play or two.

Here is a movie that really has special effects with computer graphics used to create a London of 400 years ago. Its done so seamlessly that you won't know whats real and whats not...and I say that as some one who is awfully good at spotting effects. They deserve an Oscar- which they won't get because something Like Harry Potter or Transformers is more splashy and more easily noticed.

The performances are amazing, and be prepared to be blown away watching Joely Richardson play the younger version of her mother Vanessa Redgrave (Queen Elizabeth). Can they share an Oscar?

After the film there was a talk/debate between Emmerich who basically said he thinks Oxford wrote the plays, but ultimately its a film; while James Shapiro, a Shakespeare scholar was horrified that anyone thinks Shakespeare didn't write the plays and that people will think this is history.

Emmerich's hey its just a film approach won hands down especially after he said the film is there to get a discussion started (after its done entertaining the audience) and that people should read on the subject and make up their own minds.

On the other hand Shapiro's long rambling opening statement, snippy attitude lost many people around me since he seemed to forget that it's only a movie. actually the point at which he lost about 90% of the audience was when he began to equate the "good guys" with the Nazi's (Hey they are all blue eyed and blond) and the bad guys with the Jews. The implication was that since Roland Emmerich is German he's anti-Semitic. This brought many out loud comments from everyone around me as it was clear Shapiro was going way off base. It was the point at which everyone went against him, and he never recovered, even after making some good points. (As I said he never stopped seeing it as more than just a movie.)

Anyway, this was supposed to be brief, so let me finish up by saying go see this when it comes out. Understand its jagged and imperfect, but its a damn fine drama that will keep you gripped to the final fade out. This is one of the most enjoyable films of the year.


  1. Good write up. I'm especially glad you include an impartial account of Shapiro's Nazi-baiting as elsewhere related. It kind of makes me glad I wasn't there to sit through that sort of overcultivated of abuse.

  2. Appreciate the expansive sense of what art is. As Monday-morning quarterback, I would have done it differently. But only they, with their courage and intellectual integrity, made this film, seeking the truth of the artist and his time. The received contrived legend that little Shakspere of Stratford poof! made it all up! is just too politically convenient and harmless. The official, academically sanctified, story violates history and the nature of human creativity, never mind suppressing the true author behind the name.

  3. And I thought I was the only one who had gotten on Shapiro's bad side. When I wrote to him as a courtesy last January to tell him my review of Contested Will was just published in the Psychoanalytic Quarterly, I got this reply:

    "You don't seem to understand my clear message: I will say it one last time and will in the future simply not respond to and will have to delete messages from you: I do not correspond about the authorship controversy. I am not interested in hearing from you about it or about your publications. I can't be any clearer than that."

    Some background-- I first wrote to Shapiro in 2009. I heard he was writing a book on the authorship question. I assumed-- incorrectly, it turned out-- that he'd want to hear about possibly relevant new evidence. He wrote back that it was his policy not to read anything on the subject that anyone sent him.

    And this was despite the fact that I had been asked by the prestigious literary journal Notes & Queries to consolidate seven notes I had sent them into one long article, "The Sternhold and Hopkins Whole Book of Psalms is a Major Source for the Works of Shakespeare." Shortly after I wrote to Shapiro, my article was accepted.

    In August 2011, the online version of that article was the 4th most read article from the previous century of articles in that journal.

    The link with the authorship question was that I stumbled upon this treasure trove of literary sources for Shakespeare's works by researching the 14 psalms marked with 14 different pointing hands (manicules) in Edward de Vere's copy.

    Richard M. Waugaman, M.D.

  4. Actually, Orloff and Emmerich come closer to the truth than the romantic legend of tradition, which Mark Twain (i.e. Samuel Clemens) debunked in the 19th century with his essay "Is Shakespeare Dead?" It's sad that scholars have resorted to maligning each other rather than seeking to find out who the author was behind the pen name "William Shakespeare."
    I've researched the subject for 20 years and strongly believe that knowing about Edward de Vere and his love affair with Queen Elizabeth helps enormously to understand the sonnets and many of the events in the plays. It even explains the mystery of the Dedication to the sonnets of 1609, which was NOT written by Thomas Thorpe, but by Oxford, to his natural son, the Third Earl of Southampton.