|Anonymous Movie Poster|
I do not review movies I’ve never seen. However in the case of Anonymous1 I have a few things to say about the plot and premise.
The following is a slightly reworked version of several postings I made in comments at the site Skeptical Humanities.2 What follows is a bit of a rant also.
Well I just read a review that gave the plot of Anonymous that showed that it has much of the Prince Tudor thing, which is very popular among the Oxfordians; except for several elements. Don't worry the Prince Tudor stuff will become clear when the plot is outlined.
Elizabeth sleeps with whoever gives birth to Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, who she later sleeps with also. I wonder does the movie have the full Prince Tudor incest couplings. If I remember correctly. Edward de Vere and Elizabeth have another kid, a son, (Earl of Southampton) who later Edward de Vere sleeps with. (The mysterious S. of the Sonnets.) De Vere and Southampton doing it seems to be missing from the movie.
Not only does it have Elizabeth I sleeping with whomever and having de Vere, who she later sleeps with and has Southampton, but that the Earl of Essex, was also Elizabeth I’s son and became her lover also???!!!! That sadly is in the movie.
Just why Emmerlich kept out de Vere making out with his “son” Southampton is a bit mysterious, probably Emmerlich found it immoral?! And apparently there are versions of the Prince Tudor nonsense that have Elizabeth and de Vere sharing Southampton. I could just puke!
Mega YUCK!!! doesn’t begin to describe it. To be silly was everybody involved in this chanting “Incest is best”, or the family that @#$#$ together stays together”? This reads like someone’s sick fantasy.
Talk about incest porn!
What amazes me is that in this whole convoluted incest plot, does anyone bother to check with a few experts on Elizabeth I? Apparently not. Not one serious biographer of Elizabeth I has ever claimed seriously, except to dismiss as absurd gossip that Elizabeth I ever got pregnant much less had multiple bastard children. Virtually all of them take seriously Elizabeth’s repeated declarations that she was a “intact” virgin. Also given just how open Elizabeth I’s court was just how could she have children secretly? It is simply absurd.
Does anyone who proposes this sort of stuff even for a moment bother to consider the contemporary context. For all the apparently lavish attention to detail the movie seems to miss by a long shot contemporary context.
For example Elizabeth I lived in a wide open court, surrounded by hordes of ladies in waiting, so that her ability to conduct a secret love affair was minimal. Further her position as ruler was from the beginning was precarious and remained so for quite some time. In terms of conducting love affairs she could expect vastly less tolerance than a man. Finally getting pregnant out of wedlock would almost certainly have destroyed her position. And just how could she keep that a secret? Of course this is not factoring in incest to boot.
Aside from some tittle tattle there is no evidence that Elizabeth I ever got pregnant much less had a child or two. Neither is there any evidence of any sort of affair even of the platonic type with Edward de Vere, unlike Elizabeth’s almost certainly Platonic affairs with Robert Dudley and the Earl of Essex.
Finally what of Elizabeth I herself? Well given that she was a Bible believing Protestant and quite straight-laced the idea of her committing incest seems a little hard to believe. In fact her whole personality seems to indicate someone who would NOT endanger herself for carnal / sexual passion / satisfaction. I strongly suspect that her repeated declarations that she was a virgin are correct.
From the point of view what we know about Elizabeth I, this behavior simply makes no sense and is not taken remotely seriously by any biographer of Elizabeth I.3
I note there seems to be no evidence that Edward de Vere was ever considered by anyone Elizabeth I’s child during his lifetime or apparently until the 20th century.
By showing just how utterly absurd is the argument that de Vere was Shakespeare, given the idiot, made up fantasy to justify secrecy, I do hope this as earned the Oxfordians the ridicule they so richly deserve.
When the Oxfordians have a Scholar who knows the documentation and hasn’t worked backwards from conclusion to evidence; then I will think they have something worth saying.
It’s interesting that the writer Bertram Fields a man who is, to put it mildly, supportive of revisionist history concluded that Shakespeare co-wrote with Edward de Vere because although his book mightily strained to find that Shakespeare did not write the plays and that Edward de Vere did so, the evidence compelled him to admit that Shakespeare did write plays. So he rather reluctantly settled for Edward de Vere being a co-writer with Shakespeare. The book is Players: The Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare.4
So even someone who was very attracted to a far out claim was forced to admit upon a half decently fair evaluation of the evidence that William Shakespeare wrote plays.
The Oxfordians make a lot of play about how prestigious their support is. I’m trying to understand how the “fact” that prestigious people believe something means it is not bogus. That strikes me as a non-sequitor argument. Intelligent prestigious people can believe bogus crap.
Frequently the Oxfordians attack the “elitism” of Shakespearean scholarship. This is a faux populist argument about elitism. That is another non-sequitor, aside from being propagandistic. And it is really strange coming from people who claim Shakespeare wasn’t elite enough in terms of social position and education to write the plays.
Although given the incest squared plot of the movie. I have my doubts about the Oxfordians ability to judge plays at all.
The Oxfordians also talk about the “few facts” about Shakespeare. Well their ignorance is showing.
When will the Oxfordians, Baconians etc., give Shakespeare’s “bad” handwriting a rest? How often does it have to be shown that Shakespeare wrote in “secretary” hand that we moderns are not used too. How much longer will Oxfordians keep putting forth this highly dubious argument?? It is debunked but over and over again it is used.
And has per usual there is the regular and oh so dull mention of Shakespeare’s spelling. The Oxfordians etc., again and again “forgetting” that spelling was not standardized and of course neglecting how even their hero Edward de Vere, (At least among the Oxfordians), spelt at least some words differently at different times.
I take it that none of the handwritings in the manuscript of the play Thomas More is similar to Edward de Vere otherwise we would have heard from the Oxfordians. Note we have here a play attributed to Shakespeare apparently not written by Edward de Vere.
Perhaps in the future instead of wasting our time with Oxfordian crap we could have more scholarship on real literary problems concerning authorship of the plays.
For example it is generally accepted that some of plays attributed to Shakespeare were the products of joint authorship. I’m thinking in particular of the three Henry VI’s plays. It is also my understanding that some of the plays published under Shakespeare’s name in the second and third folio but eventually removed from the canon of Shakespeare plays may actually contain bits and pieces written by Shakespeare. I’m no Shakespeare scholar but I would be interested in reading an informed exploration of issues like that regarding Shakespeare and his plays rather than more Oxford, Marlowe, and Bacon shit.
The Oxfordians frequently make arguments from ignorance or from the failure to mention something by someone. Those are inherently very dangerous and quite weak arguments. They only work if you can show a connection between the writer and topic, i.e., if A is true B would have mentioned it; or been likely to. None of the examples of argument from ignorance work very well with Shakespeare.
For example the argument that if Shakespeare had written the plays he would have educated his daughters. Even in Shakespeare’s time it was recorded as remarkable if a women was well educated and hiring private tutors etc., was expensive. such money would much more likely be spent on boys. As for Shakespeare’s education, well Dad was for Stratford upon Avon a wealthy man, so it is very likely Shakespeare had a half decent classical education at the local school. Those “grammar” schools were quite tough in terms of a classical education (the Latin Classics and perhaps some Greek). So it is likely daddy would send Will to this school, (there was one at Strafford). Of course given that Shakespeare senior was an Alderman, and one of the perks of being one was your sons getting a free education at the local grammar school the likelihood significantly increases. It is interesting to record that the evidence indicates that Shakespeare became wealthy from his plays. Of course the Oxfordians just cannot forgive Shakespeare for being money conscious.
I would also like to know how Oxford wrote plays after his death. Including Macbeth, which as topical contemporary references in it.5
All in all this is one controversy that is not worth very much and has for the movie Anonymous it seems like it is complete nonsense that will get the Oxfordians nothing but well deserved discredit.
1. The Website for Anonymous is at Here.
3. See Somerset, Anne, Elizabeth I, Fontana Books, New York, 1991, for a detailed and accurate portrayal of Elizabeth I’s court.
4. Fields, Bertram, Players, HarperCollins, New York, 2005. He also wrote the strongly revisionist Royal Blood, HarperCollins, New York, 1998, about the alleged murder of the two Princes in the Tower by Richard III.
5. For a review of the whole Authorship controversy and why it is bogus see Shapiro, James, Contested Will, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2010, and Nelson, Alan H, Shakespeare Authorship Pages Here.