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Film: Anonymous

Anonymous is a 2011 drama from director Roland Emmerich.

The story is based on the theory that William Shakespeare did not author his plays, but was given them by the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere.

Not to be confused with the web vigilante group.

The film invokes the following tropes:

  • Anachronic Order: Kyle Kallgren at Brows Held High points out that this was probably done to stop the audience from noticing that the internal chronology of the film is both self-contradictory and flies in the face of almost all historical data.
  • Ancient Conspiracy
  • Anonymous Author: Edward, before Shakespeare starts taking credit for his plays.
  • Arranged Marriage: Between Edward and William Cecil's daughter.
  • Artistic License - History:
    • A man appears in the beginning to admit that the story is just an intellectual exercise, not hard history.
    • The chronology is completely wrong. Macbeth is performed before Hamlet. Macbeth is widely considered to be a rather late production by Shakespeare, and directly references King James I (who ascends to the throne at the end of the film).
    • Also, Christopher Marlowe figures out that Edward is writing the plays, because he realises that the character of Polonius in Hamlet is meant to signify William Cecil. Hamlet was first performed in 1601 (1598 in the film.) Marlowe died in 1593. You see the problem here?
    • The portrayal of Richard III as an Evil Cripple wasn't Shakespeare's invention: it appears as "fact" in Polydore Vergil's Anglica Historia, published in 1534 - over a decade before the births of both Edward and Shakespeare.
    • Cecil was actually against Elizabeth naming James of Scotland as her successor and for very good reason: it was Cecil, more than anyone else, who'd convinced Elizabeth to execute James's mother, Mary Queen of Scots.
  • Brick Joke: Ben Johnson complains that Essex's writing is just a passing hobby, saying "Last week it's gardening, now it's plays, next week it will be falconry!" Later, when Shakespeare is in Essex's study, there is a hooded falcon perched off to the side.
  • Downer Ending
  • Evil Chancellor: William and Robert Cecil.
  • Historical-Domain Character
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The Cecils and also William Shakespeare himself.
  • How We Got Here
  • The House Of Tudor
  • Large Ham: Shakespeare
  • Parental Incest
  • Real-Life Relative: Vanessa Redgrave plays the older Elizabeth; the younger Elizabeth is played by Redgrave's daughter, Joely Richardson.
  • Reality Subtext: Derek Jacobi (the Narrator) is a very prominent Anti-Stratfordian advocate. He also played the Chorus (i.e. the narrator) in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V.
  • Succession Crisis: With Queen Elizabeth old and having no legitimate children, the Cecils want James of Scotland to take the throne of England after her death. Edward wants it to go to the Earl of Essex.
  • Surprise Incest: Between Edward and Elizabeth, his mother.
  • The Virgin Queen
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story/Based on a Great Big Lie: Depends on whether you're a Stratfordian or Anti-stratfordian.

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alternative title(s): Anonymous
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