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Release Date(s)2011 (February 7, 2012)
Roland Emmerich's Anonymous is an interesting meditation on William Shakespeare and a thoroughly entertaining experience throughout.
The existence of the film provides quite a diversion from the usual charged product of director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla, 2012) and enlivens things with a cast that comprises such worthies as Rhys Ifans, David Thewlis, Vanessa Redgrave, and Derek Jacobi. Now there's been a lot of nonsense written in the press and in academia to the effect that to question Shakespeare's writing of what has been attributed to him is almost sacrilegious, particularly when it's mounted in the form of a popular film whose existence might somehow subvert popular belief. What better way to air and possibly strengthen or disarm such theories (even if they are more akin to conspiracy theories than thoroughly-documented scientific theories) than to do so through popular "what-if" scenarios? It's like Oliver Stone's JFK film controversy. No one's claiming irrefutable proof in Anonymous, merely suggesting an alternate reality that may or may not have validity based on one particular source analysis. In the film, the case is plead that Shakespeare's plays were not written by the great man, but by the likes of Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, whose education and life opportunity made him much more a likely person to have been able to produce such works. Aside from its central issue, Anonymous also delivers a diverting portrait of the Elizabethan court and its politics. In the end what we have is a cracking good tale. There are inaccuracies in time and events as there commonly are in historical-based films. If you let it all fool you into thinking that you're watching unvarnished truth rather than a popular entertainment, more fool you. Take it all as an invitation to investigate further yourself what lies at the root of the issue. The film has been brought to Blu-ray by Sony and the 2.35:1 encode is superior in all respects. The elaborate costuming and period sets are crisply captured with an incredible array of detail and texture jumping out at one throughout. The film's rather subdued lighting is well captured with colour vibrancy little to be seen. A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix works effectively to create a continuously atmospheric experience while dialogue strongly centred in the middle and cleanly reproduced. A French 5.1 DTS-HD track, a Spanish 5.1 DD one, and English, French, and Spanish subtitles are all included. Disc supplements include an interesting audio commentary by Emmerich and writer John Orloff, deleted and extended scenes, and three featurettes dealing with casting, period recreation on screen, and the evidence that the film elucidates. Recommended.