“Blows the Bard to Bits”


There’s a fantastic review by Harry Haun of the new movie Anonymous up at the pre-eminent theatrical website Playbill.com that is most definitely worth the read. To quote a bit from the piece:

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This authorship question has been raging off-screen for centuries but more frequently and more intensely for 150 years. It’s hardly the majority view, mind you, and most academics give it less credence than the [Francis] Bacon theory and the [Christopher] Marlowe theory, but this is the first time the “Oxfordian theory” has been translated into a screenplay that boldly presents itself as fact.

“It’s not our theory,” insists screenwriter John Orloff, who has gone where no theorist has gone before (unless you count the established, company-line “Stratfordians,” who have always held that Shakespeare wrote his own stuff).

“Some of the people who thought Shakespeare didn’t write the plays are Mark Twain, Henry James, Sigmund Freud — Walt Whitman became obsessed with it — a lot of writers, and I don’t think that’s coincidental because writers understand how you write. It’s a big question in this case because writers tend to write what they know. They write from experience. Mark Twain’s whole point when he wrote an entire book about why he didn’t think Shakespeare wrote the plays was that he [Twain] couldn’t have written about the Mississippi, had he not been a Mississippi boat pilot and known these people and had these experiences. His thesis was: ‘No way can you can convince me, Samuel Clemens, this boy from Stratford could write about all these noblemen and the intricacies of court and the metaphors of falconry and lawn bowling and tennis and medicine and law, if he hadn’t been that person.’

“There is a reason why four Supreme Court Justices don’t think William Shakespeare wrote the plays, and the reason they don’t think he did is that the law in Shakespeare is incredibly accurate, 16th-century law. In fact, for a couple of hundred years, people thought William Shakespeare must have been a lawyer or law clerk. We don’t think that anymore because there is no record of him going to law school.

“We didn’t make a documentary. We made a movie, and we can’t say it more clearly than the opening moments where we have an actor on a theatre stage [Derek Jacobi at the Broadhurst] introducing the movie, saying it’s a piece of theatre. This is a movie about the intersection of art and politics. It’s about: ‘Is the pen mightier than the sword?’ We’re just using that story to talk about that bigger truth.

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Read more HERE…

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