“What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” (“Romeo and Juliet” William Shakespeare, 1564-1616)
There was a time in my life where every breath, every test I took revolved around the King, Pope of all Bards; I could have written a dissertation of praise on his erudite histories and tragedies . I was in awe, inebriated, inspired by his every word, phrase, rhyme; his wisdom, grasp of the human condition resonates today as it did 500 years ago; his genius never replicated. That being stated, although problematic, I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle “Anonymous” and if Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford (1550-1604), is “Shakespeare’s” viable name and owns the rite of authorship, he has my blessing.
There has always been suspicion, rumors about Shakespeare; many birthed by envy; how could one person (especially from the lower classes) compose at such a celestial level; their are gifted musicians, artists, sculptors, many spawned by ordinary parents; their gifts lauded, applauded, lionized and accepted, rarely questioned. Maybe it’s the spectrum of Shakespeare’s diversity: from kings to paupers, shrews and fools, the complexities of race, religion, male and females; deviousness, goodness, evil, he conquered all.
Rhys Ifans, with his tortured, elongated “El Greco” physiognomy lends the “Earl” enough legitimacy as a scholar but lacks the facetious streak and riotous humor that beams in Shakespeare’s comedies (“Taming of the Shrew”, “Midsummer’s Night Dream” ) or the bibulous “Falstaff”, eternally a crowd pleaser, teaser.
Roland Emmerich (“2012”) has Rafe Spall portray “Will Shakespeare” (minimal role) as a debauched buffoon and even more criminal, a mediocre, rather droll actor. Vanessa Redgrave gives a wonderful touch of acerbity and myopia to “Queen Elizabeth”; who in youthful, exuberant passion, shared her bed with many; “Young Elizabeth” charmingly depicted by Redgrave’s daughter, Joely Richardson.
Sebastian Armesto as the playwright “Ben Johnson” is fantastically believable as the suffering and prevailed upon secret keeper; the only one Edward de Vere entrusts with his progeny, his life-long works, never to bear his name.
The plot blurs, looses its mission, actually spins out of control with political intrigue; the Essex rebellion; incest and illegitimacy distracting, forcing the audience into a cocoon of confusion. If you know your history remember Mary Queen of Scotland triumphs from the grave.
Throughout civilization it has not been uncommon for authors to adopt a pseudonym, smothering their true identity, not quite total obfuscation, but misleading:
George Sand (Amantine Lucile Dupin)
Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet)
George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair)
George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
Marshall McLuhan states “the name of a man is a numbing blow from which he never recovers”; if that is the case Edward de Vere, if indeed he is the author of voluminous prose, recuperates beautifully by baptizing “William Shakespeare” the heir of recovery.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!