Introduction to Anonymous and the Oxfordian theory
In 2011, director Roland Emmerich brought the controversial film Anonymous to fruition. This project had been on hold since John Orloff’s 1998 script had been coincidentally rendered unpopular by its subject’s counterpart, Academy Award favourite Shakespeare in Love. These conflicting interpretations of Shakespeare’s authorship mirror the literary conflict based on that same question: Who was Shakespeare? In contrast to Madden’s image of a romantic and fragile Stratfordian Bard, Anonymous suggests that the true “soul of the age,” was Edward de Vere (1550 – 1604), the 7th Earl of Oxford. As counter-argument to the generally accepted theory that it was Will Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the renowned thirty-eight plays, two long poems, and more than a hundred short poems, Anonymous visualizes the Oxfordian theory. This theory supposed that it was in fact De Vere and not the Man from Stratford who wrote ‘Shakespeare.’ Emmerich’s film offers us a cinematic execution of the Oxfordian hypothesis. This article will therefore analyze Anonymous as a hypothetical take on Shakespearean authorship in relation to the Oxfordian theory and will show that the film fails in more ways than one when it comes to giving it credibility.