Emmerich Doubts Shakespeare’s Authorship in ‘Anonymous’


Emmerich Doubts Shakespeare’s Authorship in ‘Anonymous’
by Darius Kadivar

A political thriller about who actually wrote the plays of William Shakespeare-- Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford-- set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I, and the Essex Rebellion against her.


Anonymous (2011) directed by Roland Emmerich and Starring Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Derek Jacobi and David Thewlis


US Release Date : 30th September 2011

Official Trailer:




The Film was partly Shot at the Babelsberg Studios inBerlin



This is German director Roland Emmerich’s ( Independance Day) third historical epic movie after 10, 000 BC and particularly« Patriot » inwhich the American Revolution is depicted through the eyes of Mel Gibson’s character. This film was slightly criticized for his manichean and nearly NaziLike depiction of the British Colonialists. In Anonymous Emmerich pushes the controversy in this film even further by describing Elizabethan England as a Totalitarian State.



Not surprisingly Vanessa Redgrave well known for her staunch Pro Republican (i.e : anti Monarchist) views was chosen by Emmerich to portray Elizabeth II



Interview with Cast & Crew

Press Conference Babelsberg Studios



Roland Emmerich talking about the project :

Roland Emmerich on thehistorical aspect :

David Thewlis on his rôle as William Cecil:



Rhys Ifans as Edward de Vere & Rafe Spall asShakespeare :


Vanessa Redgrave

on William Shakespeare :

Vanessa Redgrave on her role as Queen Elizabeth Ist:


Joely Richardson as Young Elizabeth:

Redgrave on the Rose Theater:

Mark Rylance on Shakespeares plays :

Mark Rylance on his rôle :

Rhys Ifans on the project :

Roland Emmerich on his othermovies :

Emmerich on working in Babelsberg :



The Shakespeare Controversy



Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Plays :

Roundtable discussion with Robert Brustein, AlvinEpstein, Eugene Mahon, Ron Rosenbaum, Daniela Varon, and J.P. Wearing.

The Shakespeare Enigma :

Extracts from a television documentary about the Shakespeare authorship controversy which has been sold around the world.

Director Emmerich defends Shakespeare authorship film by Tim Masters (BBC)

German film director Roland Emmerich has admitted courting controversy with his film that questions the authorship of Shakespeare's plays.

Anonymous portrays the Bard as an inarticulate buffoon, making nobleman Edward de Vere the true author.

Speaking at a debate, Emmerich said: "I know it is controversial, and I was going for the controversy."

He is best known for effects-laden blockbusters like Independence Day, Godzilla and disaster movie 2012.

Anonymous stars Rhys Ifans as de Vere - the 17th Earl of Oxford, Rafe Spall as Shakespeare and Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth I.

"Art has to provoke," Emmerich told the audience the English-Speaking Union in Mayfair.

"That Shakespeare didn't write the plays is only one of the many scandals that this movie will unearth."

Having thrown down the gauntlet, Emmerich watched as academics from both sides of the argument engaged in a lively debate, broadcast live on the internet.

The debate was part-organised by Sony Pictures, who are releasing the filmon 30 September.

The motion wasthat William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon was the author of the plays and poems attributed to him.

Supporting the motion, Shakespeare scholar Professor Michael Dobson of Birkbeck College, said: "I am very grateful to Roland Emmerich for perfectly underlining the verygenre and character of what's called the Oxfordian case.

'Chimpanzee wearing oven gloves'

"It is noless and certainly no more than an absolutely terrific plot for a B-movie."

However, Dr William Leahy, head of the School of Arts at Brunel University, painted a portrait of Shakespeare as an "opportunist" who stole the work of those around him and passed it off as his own.

He added:"The six signatures he left... are written in a hand unlike someone who has made their living by writing. They look like they were written by a chimpanzee wearing oven gloves."

Charles Beauclerk, president of the De Vere Society, said Hamlet was "an expose of the Elizabethan Court" written by the Earl of Oxford.

The play was highly political, he said, so authorship was credited to Shakespeare to depoliticise it in the public arena.

"With Shakespeare as author, Hamlet becomes a harmless tale about an ancient DanishPrince," he said.

But Rev Dr Paul Edmondson, head of learning at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, put the anti-Shakespeare arguments down to snobbery.

'Terribly conspiracy'

"Nearly allof the alternative candidates are aristocratic, university-educated orboth," he said. "Their proponents look down on Shakespeare as an uneducated commoner."

He went on:"William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the plays and poems attributed to him. His authorship was not even questioned until 1856...

"If he didn't write them, then we have to believe that thousands of people during his lifetime... were in on a terrible conspiracy. I think not."

At the end, Emmerich observed with a smile: "I'm amazed - you makea little costume B movie and you end up here at the English-Speaking Union."

Related Blog:

CASTING A KING: Shakespeare's Play On The British Monarchy

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Kenneth Branagh And An All Star Cast in "Hamlet" (1996)

MEMORABLE INTERVIEWS: Dame Judi Dench interview with Sir Richard Eyre (BBC)

ROYALTY ON SCREEN: Ian McKellen is "Richard III"in a fascist-inspired version of Britain (1995)


KNIGHTHOOD:Vanessa Redgrave Recieves Bafta Award From Prince William

BEYOND WORDS: Group Reading of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh

Words For Eternity ...


Other Treacherous On Screen Blogs: 

TREACHERY ONSCREEN:Malcom McDowell in Robert Enrico's "East Wind" 


more from Darius Kadivar

Sorry, dear DK.....I'll be outa here in a jiffy

by پندارنیک on

On the trivial subject of flagging, and what admin is expected to do:

JJ, in my opinion,  can sort of follow the model of the Iranian TVs in LA by selling flags........Should I sound funny to you? Not a bit. I am actually just  advocating a subscription-based forum, where people can buy their space with full control of who in, who out......

Sorry dear DK for violating our semi-tacit agreement on my keeping distance from your blogs...Won't happen again...


100% BS

by John on

Who would believe anything that one sees in any "historical" film, especially one made by the same hack who perpetrated the travesty "The Patriot", which is one long, huge, embarrassing lie passed off as history.  What we are seeing is the inexorable decline of rational and intelligent thought, and its replacement by uninformed, unsubstantiated soundbites.


Emerich a Shakespeare authority?

by Simorgh5555 on

Is this the same Roland Emerich who made Independence Day and other Rasberry Awaed winning movies suh as Godzilla? Its bad enough that this is being reported on an Iranian related website let alone any serious film forum.

Anahid Hojjati

Interesting blog. Thanks DK.

by Anahid Hojjati on

Thanks Darius for writing about this movie. Anonymous seems like a good movie. Certainly it covers a fascinating subject.