This weekend the boyf and I went to see the movie, Anonymous on his choosing. First of all, I am very glad he picked the movie, because he never seems to like anything I choose, second, he made a brilliant decision that sparked dynamic conversation between the two of us. The movie, is a little less than mainstream (it was this or Immortals…hmmm), there were only two showings that Saturday night and the theater was small and boasting on empty. It is a shame, because I found the movie really very inspiring, and beautiful to look at…
The plot, at times hard to follow because of the switches in time and place, is not necessarily a difficult one, though it involves a mélange of fiction with history, and messes with our sensibilities of who the famous playwright, Shakespeare really was. There has always been a cloud of doubt and academics floating around the topic of the prolific poet, and this movie takes it a step further, while immersing the viewer in Elizabethan England and the beginnings of one of the most well known writers ever. Instead of attributing the words that to our knowledge were authored by the historic Shakespeare from Stratford Upon Avon, the movie claims that another man wrote those words, a noble banned from the profession by his station in life, Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford. The movie does some fancy foot work around the historical rebellion of the Earl of Essex against the Elizabethan crown, the inner-workings of the royal family and the kingdom, along with the perhaps speculated lives of the creative and lower classes. Honestly, the plot, in my opinion, had many twists and turns, making what we thought was straightforward enough (Shakespeare, well as straightforward as verse and iambic pentameter can be) into a maze of scandal, history and ambiguity.
I am a sucker for beauty and the aesthetics of composition (art history degree for goodness sake), and this movie had so much of those components. First of all, the costumes, were amazing. The details and the research obvious and present in every piece. The colors rich, muted and full, and the glimmer of the Golden Age of Elizabeth’s reign echoed throughout the imagery. Like I have mentioned when talking about the BBC program Downton Abbey, there is a kind of composition of the screen, like a painter creating a masterpiece, only this happens in every second of the film. The cinematographer and the director’s vision creates a panarama of the time, encapsulating masterpieces in screen moments, from the lighting to the scenery, to the costumes. In my mind I kept saying screen shot screen shot, and strolling though my mental art history data base . Though not of place, I could not stop thinking of the Italian Renaissance painter and bad boy Carraggio, for the rich color and the strong compositional elements on the screen, dominated by personages for the most part. Or the more delicate ramblings of Rafael in certain scenes where light was dominant and the colors of nature were effervescent. Or even the strong portraiture that dominated Protestant England at the time… Oh but I digress (per usual). The film captivated my visual senses, and made me escape deep into the plot and the time period.
Despite the outlandish theory portrayed in the movie-- that the entire oeuvre of Shakespeare was written by someone completely different than expected-- the movie was thought provoking. It definitely makes one question fame, ownership, authorship and credit. Even if the whole plot was created from thin air, based on nothing factual or historical, the fact that it incited doubt and questions into the viewer’s mind is enough, made the movie effective, underlining the whole point of the premise.
|* all images found on imdb.com|