Rated PG-13 for violence and sexuality.
Running time: 130 minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: October 28, 2011
Starring: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson, David Thewlis and Xavier Samuel
Directed by: Roland Emmerich.
Film Review by Kam Williams
Excellent (4 stars)
Who really wrote the works of William Shakespeare? That nagging question
has remained the subject of speculation among academics for centuries, with
authorship of his poems and plays being alternately attributed to dozens of
others, most notably, Christopher Marlowe, William Stanley, Sir Francis
Bacon and Edward de Vere, aka the 17th Earl of Oxford.
The primary reason the Bard of Avon has been shown such disrespect is because of his humble roots and the absence of evidence that he had much of a formal education. Consequently, his detractors argue that only another nobleman would have been capable of writing about royalty in such sophisticated fashion.
Thus, de Vere's need for a surreptitious means of staging his incendiary,
anti-establishment productions conveniently dovetails with the Bard's desire
for fame and fortune. But because Shakespeare is close to illiterate, the
ruse is hard to hide from most of his contemporaries in the theater world.
Meanwhile, de Vere himself has a host of his own issues to deal with, starting with his not only being the illegitimate offspring of Queen Elizabeth I (Vanessa Redgrave) but possibly having fathered a child with his mom. Throw in a jealous wife (Antje Thiele) and an ambitious father-in-law (David Thewlis) with designs on the throne, and you've got all the fixins for a convoluted, costume drama of, dare I say it, Shakespearean proportions.