Columbia Pictures' Oscar-nominated thriller Anonymous will be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas (Glorietta 4, Greenbelt 3 and Trinoma) starting Wednesday, April 18.
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Directed by Roland Emmerich from the script by John Orloff, Anonymous stars Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson, David Thewlis, Xavier Samuel, Sebastian Armesto, Rafe Spall, Edward Hogg, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Derek Jacobi.
The film speculates on an issue that has for centuries intrigued academics and brilliant minds such as Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Sigmund Freud, namely: who actually created the body of work credited to William Shakespeare?
Experts have debated, books have been written, and scholars have devoted their lives to protecting or debunking theories surrounding the authorship of the most renowned works in English literature. Anonymous poses one possible answer, focusing on a time when scandalous political intrigue, illicit romances in the Royal Court, and the schemes of greedy nobles lusting for the power of the throne were brought to light in the most unlikely of places: the London stage.
It might not seem that Roland Emmerich – best known as the director of the epic blockbusters Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012– would necessarily choose as his next project a story set in Elizabethan England. However, for nearly ten years, he has wanted to make a film with the Shakespeare authorship question as a backdrop – a yearning that is fulfilled with Anonymous.
Screenwriter John Orloff says he had been fascinated by the Shakespeare authorship question since first learning about the controversy as a 25-year-old graduate student 20 years ago. “My first thought was, ‘Why had no one told me this?!’” he says. “My second thought was that this would make a fantastic film. It had everything – murder, sex, lies, betrayal – truly the stuff of Shakespearean drama.”
In writing that story, Orloff centered around the idea of two writers – Shakespeare, the front man, and the true writer, behind the curtain. “Ben Jonson wrote the introduction to the first folio, the first official published plays of Shakespeare – he writes this beautiful, beautiful poem dedicated to Shakespeare who by that point, had been dead for several years. But if you read other Jonson works, some shorter poems or some of his plays, he’s not quite so laudatory of Shakespeare and his poems actually make fun of him and are very angry with him. It made me think that Jonson was talking about two different people – one, the true poet, and the other, a fraud.”
Emmerich was immediately receptive to Orloff’s idea – and the director had some big ideas that he felt the story could support. “The script is very much about the relationship between Ben Jonson, William Shakespeare, and Edward De Vere – that is very much the heart of the movie – but I felt it just needed a little more than that. I asked myself, ‘What was the most important thing in that era?’ and it was clearly succession” – the question of who would follow the heirless Elizabeth on the throne.
“I had a little story about art and jealousy,” says Orloff, “and with that suggestion, Roland wanted to propel the script into a whole new dimension of dramatic possibility.”