Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In Praise of ANONYMOUS

Finally, after so many months of waiting (why, exactly?) I have seen ANONYMOUS, a story I had considered writing in play form for many, many years (and never did). The reviews were pretty scathing. Imagine, a load of idiots buying the idea that someone else wrote Shakespeare's plays enough to actually make a movie about it. Preposterous! And it was a crappy movie, wasn't it? Didn't everyone agree.

As with far too much in this world, the huge numbers of people who provide majority opinion do not prove such as fact merely by their huge numbers. And all Shakespearean scholars and actors do not agree, either. But that is beside the point. I've known several films that I loved terribly (or utterly despised) that the masses viewed differently. This film, it seems, was no exception.


Was it the most brilliant movie ever made? Nope. Would everyone love it? Not a chance. But it was a film intended for me as surely as I'm a fan of Shake-speare's writings. It reminded me of why I write, why I LOVE writing, why I love theatre, why I'm more of a playwright than a novelist or poet, and what I feel about the power of words. I write plays--and I love theatre--because of the direct effect I witness between not only the words of the play and the actors performing it, but I love seeing the immediacy of response in the audience.

Theatre changes people. In a few hours--or a single scene, or a single moment within a single scene--audiences transform their thoughts, their feelings, their own sense of self and of the world. It is writing in its most immediately witnessed reader response, and the only sensation I have ever felt as close to watching my own plays performed to an audience is the birth of my two children.

If you are one of the literati, if you find words mightier than the sword, if you wish reason and thought and compassion to conquer the prejudice and malice in any age, this movie is for you. And if you love theatre, or Shakespeare's plays, or good costumes, or good acting, you'll like this too.

If you are determined to go to your grave believing that the Shakspere of Stratford wrote the plays, disregarding the wealth of evidence to the contrary, you'll hate this movie. And serves you right.

I love it--love it! I feel like buying a million copies of it and handing it out at Shakespeare conferences, setting up viewings of it to all sixth graders, getting to them before the brainwashing occurs when they reach Romeo and Juliet. Does the film portray the most likely, most accurate history? Nope. But it captures the truth of what I believe as fully as anything I've ever seen, and I will be watching it again the next moment I have free.

Watch it. Really. And if you love it, tell me about it. And if you hate it, well, you might just change your opinion of me. Not that I'll care at that point. I'll be too busy watching ANONYMOUS again.


  1. Shakes...I am glad you saw it and came to peace with it and even enjoyed it. Nope It's on my when it comes to showtime list, so I haven't seen Anonymous yet. Personally I like the Shakespeare I've read, mostly the easier more popular ones like Hamlet R&J etc. I never even knew there was a school that said some one other than the Bard of Avon wrote them. Until you told me.

    I don't know why I missed this post but 2 months in exile is long enough.

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