e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

‘Anonymous’: a film directed by Roland Emmerich

So the ‘Who wrote Shakespeare?’ debate is being revisited, this time in film.

Anonymous has already raised hackles and interest, and with stars like Derek Jacobi will no doubt be successful as a film.

Whether it’ll encourage anyone to take more interest in the plays is another matter, though Emmerich hopes it will. As he told the BBC, ‘It’s a celebration of his work, and anyone who sees this film, if it encourages young people, or anyone, to revisit these plays, then it’s very important.’

Personally I don’t think it matters who actually wrote the plays. But I lean away from all brands of doubters who display the snobbish attitude that Shakespeare couldn’t be the author because he was lower class and not well educated.

How do they know? An intelligent person who has learned to read and has access to books could become very well educated on his own. ‘Good breeding’ and sitting in a classroom are not essential.

They also claim that Shakespeare did not have the personality to be a great artist. They forget that our idea of ‘artistic temperament’ was born out of the 18th century Romantic Movement. There is no such thing as an artistic type.

I’m sure that there are anti-Stratfordians who have more sensible reasons for their doubts, but they are not, apparently, celebrated in this film.

Having said all this, I shall probably go and see it. Emmerich describes it: ‘It’s a political thriller, it’s a whodunnit, and it’s a homage to theatre and to William Shakespeare’ and I love whodunnits. If I disagree with it that’s no bad thing – I enjoy wallowing in a bit of irritation from time to time.

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