Monday, 17 March 2014

"Anonymous" on BLU RAY - A Review Of The 2011 Film By Roland Emmerich and John Orloff...

Here is a link to Amazon UK to buy this BLU RAY at the best price:
(March 2014 - part of their '2 for £10' BLU RAY offer)

"...And Yet?"

A German filmmaker (famous for special effects extravaganzas) messing with the status of the godlike British playwright William Shakespeare is bound to produce hissy fits amongst historians, be labelled abomination by academics and booed off the screen by snarling patrons. And yet…

I saw knob to all the naysayers. Roland Emmerich's "Anonymous" which re-writes the bard’s life is a fantastically well-made and well-written film - and while it isn’t as crowd-pleasing as say "Shakespeare In Love" – it’s just as good and even more sumptuous to look at. And it puts forward ideas that are not just tempting but frighteningly believable. First some facts about this astounding giant of literature…

Born the son of cobbler in April 1564 in Stratford-Upon-Avon in England, William Shakespeare became an actor first - then a playwright. He died in 1616 aged 52 survived by a wife and two daughters. His written works are the most performed in history – 38 plays, 154 sonnets and some other poems. "We happy few…we band of brothers…" and "to thine own self be true…" – are just some of the phrases that pepper the very fabric of how we speak and think. Shakespeare quotes are second only to The Bible. And yet in 400 years there isn’t a single page or document in his handwriting and there are said to be only two images of him - one of which is disputed. This leaves the most revered writers in the known Universe open to 'interpretation'.

Enter Roland Emmerich and his writer John Orloff. They purport that a moneyed aristocrat the 17th Earl Of Oxford Edward De Vere (played brilliantly by Rhys Ifans) was in fact the real author – and the actor William Shakespeare was just an opportunist who stepped up as 'author' on the night “Henry The 5th” was played for the first time.

Edward De Vere was married to the daughter of William Cecil (David Thewlis)  – a powerful manipulator in the court of the ageing Queen Elizabeth 1. Edward may have had a ‘thing’ with the young Queen 40 years earlier and her ‘bastard’ son would be heir to the Tudor throne (clever casting of mother and daughter Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson as the old and young queen). But there are plans to crown the Scotsman James instead. Edward De Vere determines to use words to sway the minds of the people and protect the young man. But he needs a puppet – enter playwright Ben Johnson who is jailed because the powers that be view all writers as seditionists.

The huge number of great actors given meaty material makes every scene sparkle with talent and intelligence. Xavier Samuel, Edward Hogg, Jamie Campbell Bower all stand up against the bigger names – with Rhys Ifans superb as the aristocrat with a heart, a brain and a quill that won’t quit. And on it goes to the end and very satisfying reasons as to why no documents exist to this day and why the most famous writer in the world can still be such an enigma and mystery.

A word about the picture quality on the BLU RAY of “Anonymous” – it’s glorious. Full on Hollywood production values are brought to every single scene – the planks on muddy wet streets, ink on fingers, dirty ruffles around the neck, the rotten teeth of the aging Queen, the dank stinking jails, the mazes in gardens full of roses – it looks incredible all the time. And the actors have a proper script to work with – no 1980s slip-ups here. Phrases like "all art is political…" and "plays are the spawn of the devil…and acts of sedition…" fill the heavy dialogue passages with sparkle and menace.

Extras include:
1. A Commentary With Director Roland Emmerich and Writer John Orloff
2. Deleted Scenes
3. Who is The Real William Shakespeare?
4. Extended Scenes
5. Speak The Speech
6. More Than Special Effects (4 to 5 exclusive to BLU RAY)

Subtitles English, English For The Hard Of Hearing, Hindi, Italian and Spanish

"Anonymous" isn’t going to bother an Oscar committee any day soon – but it is an intelligent and brilliantly presented movie – an alternative point of view and a reminder of just how beautiful and powerful words can be. Get it in your life and wallow in all that iambic excellence.

PS: Did you know that the name of William Shakespeare’s wife was Anne Hathaway? It really was!
You think you know someone and it turns out they’re just another bloody good actor…

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