Roland Emmerich's Next is 'Anonymous' About Shakespeare

February 25, 2010
Source: Empire

Roland Emmerich

Yep, you read that right. Believe it or not, before apocalyptic German director Roland Emmerich gets to the Foundation Trilogy, he'll be directing a little period piece called Anonymous next, starting this March in Berlin. Empire is reporting the news this morning, including casting as well. Anonymous is a film about the theory that William Shakespeare's plays were actually all written by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. So the guy behind such epic movies as Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012, is exploring a little Shakespeare in his next feature film. Does that make any sense to you? Read on!

Emmerich also revealed that Vanessa Redgrave (Deep Impact, Atonement, "Nip/Tuck") will play Queen Elizabeth, David Thewlis (Remus in the Harry Potter movies) will play William Cecil, both old and young, and Rhys Ifans (The Boat That Rocked) will play the Earl of Oxford. "It's a true English cast and I'm really proud of it. There's 12 main characters and 20 or 30 other characters, and [all] of the characters [are] really good," Emmerich said. Oxford, a playwright, poet and patron of the arts, fell under the "influential shadow" of Robert Cecil, the Queen's secretary of state, a key player in politics and the man widely thought to be the inspiration for Hamlet's Polonius, hence the theory. Emmerich explains how he'd describe Anonymous:

"It's a mix of a lot of things: it's a historical thriller because it's about who will succeed Queen Elizabeth and the struggle of the people who want to have a hand in it. It's the Tudors on one side and the Cecils on the other, and in between [the two] is the Queen. Through that story we tell how the plays written by the Earl of Oxford ended up labeled 'William Shakespeare'."

Having studied plenty of Shakespeare over the years in school, I'm familiar with the claim that the Earl of Oxford is actually the one who wrote his plays (even though I've never believed it). However, Emmerich is the last person on the planet (pun intended) that I'd expect to direct a movie about that literary conspiracy. I'm surprised that even he has any interest in this story. That said, he has rounded up a fairly impressive cast, and if anything this might give Emmerich the chance to work on his directing in a more focused setting (as in, not while destroying the entire world). I guess we'll just have to wait and see how he does. But I can tell you it feels out of place saying that we may see an Emmerich movie at a film festival soon. Thoughts?

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How is he going to work in a CGI shot, of a tidal wave, destroying a city, in a movie about Shakespeare? Not to worry; I'm sure he'll find a way.

Dave Lister, JMC on Feb 25, 2010


I had check the calendar to confirm that this isn't April Fool's Day ... This is a joke, isn't it?

Hattori Hanzo on Feb 25, 2010


maybe this is some wierd sequel to 2012, that would allow him to incorporate some mutant creatures that survived the flood or something

Scott McHenry on Feb 25, 2010


Its the writer, not the director; In this case, John Orloff is the man to watch.

Stan on Feb 25, 2010


i wonder if he's gonna destroy london in this movie and kill of shakespeare and the queen*spoiler alert*

Spider94 on Feb 25, 2010



Xerxex on Feb 25, 2010


Erh....Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban is "proven" to be Shakespeare in a 4 X 53 min miniseries that aired on a norwegain tv station (NRK, right before X-mas. The evidence is so compelling that it really cannot be ignored. The miniseries is called "Sweet Swan of Avon" here's a link to an intro on facetube: Heres some txt from the filmmakers: "Warning: Join in on our mysterious journey, yet know that by doing so your concept of reality may be at risk..... A cryptographic discovery that may change western history. Sometimes reality exceeds fiction. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S magnitude and influence is unquestionable. But his life is shrouded in mystery. There has been a raging controversy as to whether or not he wrote the Shakespearean works himself. One of the anomalies that has challenged historians is the complete lack of hand-written material from Shakespeare's pen. His plays and poetry must have required thousands of hand-written manuscript pages, but no one now knows where these are to be found. We do know that there were collected seven years after his death, because they were used in 1623 to produce the first printed version of Shakespeare's collected works, known as The First Folio. In the summer of 2002 the life of organist PETTER AMUNDSEN was turned upside down. In his search to learn more about cryptography, he stumbled upon a string of ciphers in Shakespeare's First Folio. He was shocked to find what appeared to be another author, and even more curiously he found a treasure map leading to an island in Nova Scotia, Canada. In the film Petter meets cryptographers, historians and SHAKESPEARE specialists in fight for support. Petter's work is based on well known code systems, and every step is thoroughly documented. When THE SHAKESPEARE CODE is released it could cause a sensation because of the highly controversial implications of the story. Reality exceeds imagination." Roland Emmerich fucktup-again.

David Banner on Feb 28, 2010


I applaud the bold political imagination of Emmerich and his cast. They are bucking a conventional history that never made sense. Its one convenient virtue was the pretense that the works of "Shakespeare" had nothing to do with the politics of the time or the autobiography of the actual author. That tends to remove controversy. Instead "Shakespeare" became a humble morality tale about keeping your nose clean and someday you may end up a damn national saint. Apparently 'Anonymous' is taking the myth on. The artists are way ahead of the academy, which has been conditioned to never question received doctrine. It is a comfort to know that there really was a majestic if tormented genius who saw all in the Elizabethan era's "towering spirit of ruthless and gigantic caste" and wrote of it. The real story is getting a hearing belatedly. The truth will out. Good on you all.

William Ray on Jul 20, 2010


There is no reason whatsoever to believe the plays credited to William Shakespeare were written by anyone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford. There is no actual evidence that Shakespeare of Stratford did not write the plays that were credited to him, so the conspiracy theorists argue that there is not ENOUGH evidence that Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the plays. They claim if he was the real author, there would be MORE evidence showing he was the author. Then they turn around and argue for the authorship for another candidate with far less evidence. Shakespeare of Stratford was an actor in the company that performed the plays. There's nothing to connect the Earl of Oxford to the plays, other than people's wild imaginings of biolgraphical connections. The Emmerich play will also posit that the Earl of Oxford was the son of Queen Elizabeth as well as being the father of her child. That should convince anyone that the film will be nuts.

Richqrd Nathan on Aug 24, 2010


Hamlet's Polonius was ACTUALLY modeled on WILLIAM Cecil (Lord Burley), not his son Robert Cecil (who was the model for Shakespeare's Richard III). The physical and psychological descriptions are similar, and the many homilies sent by William Cecil to his son studying in Paris, very closely match Polonius' entreaties to his son studying in Wittenberg. William Cecil was the Earl of Oxford's foster father, then father-in-law. This is only one of a tidal wave of circumstantial evidence, that bring the whole Shakespeare conundrum to clarity and sharp focus - it all makes logical sense, when you realise that Shakespeare was a nom-de-plume for the Earl of Oxford. Unfortunately, this movie has latched onto one of the more sensational and extreme sub-groups of the Oxfordian camp i.e. that the Earl of Southampton (the dedicatee of the Shakespeare sonnets) was the illegitimate son of Oxford and Elizabeth. This possibly makes for a more sensational movie, but is not backed up by the mountain of evidence that Oxford was Shakespeare. It's true, the sonnets DO start off in a sort of fatherly way (de Vere / Oxford was in negotiation for Southampton to marry his daughter), but seem to turn rather homoerotic later, which would not seem to fit the father-son theory. It is spelled out in the sonnets themselves, that the author's name will be buried with his body, but the Monument (the sonnets) to Southampton, will live forever. This is exactly what has happened.

GeoffU on Dec 18, 2010


I think it's really exciting that Emmerich is trying something new. Why are you people such haters. Give the man a chance, maybe it's actually good. Looks incredible in the teaser that went up today. I dunno, but everyone should get a chance to reinvent themselves, so don't bash him before giving it a look. That's just unkind...

Katie on Apr 7, 2011


The connection between the Earl of Oxford and Shakespeare's plays was dreamed up by someone who lamented the supposed disintegration of the British Empire after the first World War (Loney) and wanted to go back to the old days when noblemen had the right to rule with an iron fist and there was no such thing as democracy.  He was a crackpot.  Anyone who wants to follow his theories is welcome to do so, but you can hardly not expect to be called delusional.  As pointed out above, there is NO evidence to connect the Earl to the plays.  Occam's razor, anyone?  As for Polonius, I have met plenty of old men who are exactly like him - which is why I find his character so hilarious - but I didn't write the plays either.  Emmerich likes to film elaborate imaginary scenarios that have nothing to do with reality - which is exactly what this film promises to be.

Marianne on Aug 17, 2011

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