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Was Shakespeare A Fraud?

A passion project from director Roland Emmerich and writer John Orloff, and a brave one too, as it sees them immersing themselves in Elizabethan England to tackle a creative controversy that for centuries has intrigued thinkers as varied as Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and Sigmund Freud, namely: who actually wrote the body of work credited to William Shakespeare? Anonymous takes as a given that Shakespeare was not their author, and spins a compelling yarn out of the theory that the true writer was Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. The story is a cinematic gift, replete with suspicion, snobbery, duplicity and self-advancement, and Emmerich tackles it with gusto. London is recreated as a city of extremes, from vermin-infested backstreets and dubious taverns to the splendour of the royal court, where back-stabbing, vanity and corruption span the class divide. Involved in the intrigue is an epic cast of characters, including Ben Jonson and other notable theatre figures of the period, as well as the Queen of England (Vanessa Redgrave, outstanding), her ambitious advisers and the Earl himself (Rhys Ifans, all creative yearning and camp sensibility). Whether you fall into the Oxfordian camp or don’t much care, the whole is rollicking good fun, and the recreated performances at the Rose Theatre are a delight, reminding us that whoever they came from, Shakespeare’s writings are a gift to us all. – Sandra Hebron, BFI London Film Festival
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Directed by: 
Roland Emmerich
Running Time: 
Rhys Ifans, David Thewlis, Vanessa Redgrave, Rafe Spall, Sebastian Armesto
Screenplay by: 
John Orloff

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