Rhys Ifans  Actor Vanessa Redgrave  Actor Sebastian Armesto  Actor Rafe Spall  Actor David Thewlis  Actor


MPAA Rating: PG13
Contains:Violence,Sexual Situations

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  • Edtitorial Reviews
  • Cast & Production Credits

Theatrical Release Date: 2011 10 28 (USA - Limited)

UPC: 043396394346

Studio: Columbia Pictures

MPAA Rating: PG13   Contains:[Violence, Sexual Situations]

Summary: Director Roland Emmerich takes a break from his long string of big-budget disaster films with Anonymous, a historical drama that suggests Shakespeare was a fraud. Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans) is an aristocrat who yearns to write poetry and plays, but due to social and political constraints, he is forced to use a front for his political-minded works because they subtly encourage Queen Elizabeth to alter her plan for succession in a way that is in direct opposition to her most-trusted political advisers. When drunken, illiterate, fame-hungry actor William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) passes off the plays as his own, de Vere finds his man, but eventually he is blackmailed when the morally dubious thespian wants more and more. Anonymous screened at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi

Category: Drama

Awards: Film Presented – Toronto International Film Festival Film Presented – London Film Festival Best Art Direction in a Period Film – Art Directors Guild Best Costume Design – Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Features: Commentary with Director Roland Emmerich and Writer John Orloff
Deleted scenes
Who is the real William Shakespeare?


Format: DVD

Release Date: 02/07/2012

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Cinemascope

Audio: DD5.1 Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 130 Minutes

Sides: 1

Number of Discs: 1

Language(s) English,French,Spanish

Subtitles: English,French,Spanish

Region: USA & territories, Canada

Chapters: Disc #1 -- Anonymous
1. Chapter 1 [10:02]
2. Chapter 2 [7:39]
3. Chapter 3 [9:50]
4. Chapter 4 [10:09]
5. Chapter 5 [6:09]
6. Chapter 6 [6:08]
7. Chapter 7 [8:14]
8. Chapter 8 [6:40]
9. Chapter 9 [6:17]
10. Chapter 10 [8:13]
11. Chapter 11 [:19]
12. Chapter 12 [10:25]
13. Chapter 13 [5:52]
14. Chapter 14 [7:14]
15. Chapter 15 [8:30]
16. Chapter 16 [6:01]

Perry Seibert

In Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the commoners who populated the cramped standing-room-only section below the stage were referred to as the groundlings. These were the members of the audience who supposedly wanted ribald humor, mayhem, and good old-fashioned entertainment from their theater experiences. Director Roland Emmerich's entire career has been about making movies for the modern-day equivalent of the groundlings. But with Anonymous, his historical drama set in Shakespearean times, Emmerich ambitiously aims to please the entire theater.

The movie stars Rhys Ifans as Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. De Vere is a writer and poet, although his position in court and his wife's sensibilities prevent him from making his work -- with its very obvious political leanings -- public. He's opposed to the influence that the Essex family hold over Queen Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave), and he attempts to turn public opinion against them by finding someone else to take public credit for his politically charged work. That way, plays like Richard III and Macbeth can be performed and will change the opinions of the common man. He first attempts to hire Ben Johnson (Sebastian Armesto), the creative director of the Globe Theater, but when he balks because of the possibility of being arrested, an illiterate actor named William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) quickly takes credit for the plays. Now, as the elderly Queen faces a choice about the line of succession, Edward's secret past with her is about to be revealed, and the British people are whipped into a frenzied mob thanks to the power of the theater.

Right from the opening scene, a preamble featuring Derek Jacobi arriving at a theater and delivering a monologue that entertainingly and swiftly establishes the themes, setting, and tone of the entire film, it's apparent that Emmerich isn't out of his league at all. Thanks to a solid script by John Orloff and a very game cast, the director thrusts us into the middle of a complicated political battle without ever confusing us. And once we understand the various factions that are maneuvering for influence, de Vere's plan becomes even more engrossing, since he's been emotionally attached to the Queen for nearly his entire life; for Edward, it's personal, not political.

Ifans shines as the center of the movie. Although he's still best known for his comedic work -- his signature role was the uncouth Welsh roommate in Notting Hill -- he's got dramatic chops as well, something anyone who saw Greenberg can affirm. Ifans makes de Vere a complicated figure, a man who understands that he has a remarkable talent, but who quickly learns that being able to create beautiful works of art is no guarantee of happiness. De Vere is a dour man trapped in a bad marriage, beset on all sides by forces who know more than he does. He's a charismatically tragic figure, making it entirely plausible that he could create some of the most-tragic characters in the history of the English language.

Emmerich still doesn't entirely abandon his signature set pieces. There's a march on a castle that features thousands of extras -- or at least thousands of CGI extras -- and there are seedy rumors about Edward's past that give the film a gossipy kick. Also, you don't need to know anything beyond the basics of Shakespeare to appreciate Anonymous, and it doesn't leave you out in the cold as long as you recognize the names of his most-famous plays. However, the movie is indeed inspired by the conspiracy theory that Shakespeare's works were written by someone else, with de Vere's name floated as one potential candidate. None of that, however, need concern audience members. After all, the man responsible for modern-day disaster epics like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 is still more interested in entertaining his audience than in serving up a dry historical examination.

The thought of Emmerich tackling this subject matter is as incongruous as Charlie Sheen becoming a national spokesman for the Latter Day Saints. But, to his credit, he's taken his main character's ambitions to heart. Anonymous works as a period political thriller, a tragic romance, and a history lesson; it plays well to both the groundlings and the wealthy patrons who can afford plush seats. And that's something hardly anyone expected from Emmerich. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi

Cast and Crew: Roland Emmerich  Director 
Roland Emmerich  Producer 
Harald Kloser  Composer (Music Score) 
Volker Engel  Executive Producer 
Larry Franco  Producer 
John Orloff  Executive Producer 
John Orloff  Screenwriter 
Marc Weigert  Executive Producer 
Robert Leger  Producer 
Thomas Wander  Composer (Music Score) 
Rhys Ifans  Actor 
Vanessa Redgrave  Actor 
Sebastian Armesto  Actor 
Rafe Spall  Actor 
David Thewlis  Actor 
Edward Hogg  Actor 
Xavier Samuel  Actor 
Sebastian Reid  Actor 
Jamie Campbell Bower  Actor 
Joely Richardson  Actor 
Paolo DeVita  Actor 
Trystan Gravelle  Actor 
Robert Emms  Actor 
Tony Way  Actor 
Julian Bleach  Actor 
Derek Jacobi  Actor 
Alex Hassell  Actor 
James Garnon  Actor 
Mark Rylance  Actor 
Jasper Britton  Actor 
Michael Brown  Actor 
Ned Dennehy  Actor 
John Keogh  Actor 
Lloyd Hutchinson  Actor 
Vicky Krieps  Actor 
Helen Baxendale  Actor 
Paula Schramm  Actor 
Amy Kwolek  Actor 
Luke Taylor  Actor 
Isaiah Michalsky  Actor 
Timo Huber  Actor 
Richard Durdan  Actor 
Shaun Lawton  Actor 
Detlef Bothe  Actor 
James Clyde  Actor 
Christian Sengewald  Actor 
Jean-Loup Fourure  Actor 
Viktoria Gabrysch  Actor 
Axel Sichrovsky  Actor 
Katrin Pollit  Actor 
Patricia Grove  Actor 
Laura Lo Zito  Actor 
Gode Benedix  Actor 
Nic Romm  Actor 
Henry Lloyd-Hughes  Actor 
Patrick Diemling  Actor 
Patrick Heyn  Actor 
Nino Sandow  Actor 
Craig Salisbury  Actor 
Rainer Guldener  Actor 
Trystan Wyn Pütter  Actor 
Andre Kaczmarczyk  Actor 
Jonas Hammerle  Actor 
Leonard Kinzinger  Actor 
Mike Maas  Actor 

Country: Germany,UK