I think it`s about the death of the authored, as it were, of the text as

I think it's about the death of the authored, as it were, of the text as dead
and gone, buried, stained. There's no possibility of resurrection in the film,
just insurrection. It's like the de Vere as anonymous (never
“Shakespeare”) installs a series of political effects that play out tragically.
All writing is effectively anonymous, and all heirs to Eliz are bastards.
So authorship is never legit; nor is politics in the narrow sense. Intrigue
and insurrection. That's all you get. Very Jacobean in a way.
Anonymous is really about Hamlet insofar as the film can be said to be
really about anything. Its about Hamlet as a play about ghostwriting. It’s
about the ink stain as revelation. “the inker’s hand.” Also blood on one’s
hand. There’s a visible link between ink and blood stains when the young
de vere kills the thief who stole his papers. The film has no interest in
attaching text to author. It shows papers and authors in proximity, but we
never even get the title of a play, not the way that is shut, not A
Midsummer Night’s Dream, not even the sonnets. Shakespeare’s name
and his works are connected by Jacobi is his opening monologue, but not
one title is mentioned. Nothing in the film about published plays, just about
manuscripts in “his own handwriting.” The film implies that the
manuscripts by Oxford still exist.
Polonius parallel—cited by Jonson first in conjunction with torture to locate
plays of de vere; then closet scene re-enacted by de vere when a thief in
the house steals only some of his papers—it’s not clear whey he has taken
a few papers and not all of them.
There’s no play within the play. Instead there are a series of frames that
really don’t frame anything—they have no meaningful structure. There’s
the Jacobi frame; then the Jonson burying the plays frame; then a dissolve
involving AMND performed twice for Elizabeth (old then young); then an
abrupt return to Jonson; and then we go back to de Vere as a 16 year
staying at the Cecil’s via a flashback of the younger Cecil . Who knows
what year we are at now. There is never a date to begin with—so when
we get “earlier” we get dating without a date.
The film is a kind of new historicist time travel hallucigenic trip. Back in
time four years earlier, with Essex and Southampton plotting the Essex
rebellion, then forty, then the present when Eliz sees AMND at Oxford’s
outside, then flashback of hers seeing it as a young woman acted by de
vere as a young teen as puck’s epilogue in the present morphs into a child
who turns out to be de vere reciting the rest of the epilogue; she talks to de
vere, its author, then, back to the present as we go to a curtain call in the
theater, then to the Cecil’s talking, planning to send Essex and
Southampton off to Ireland from whence they shall never return!, and then
back to younger Cecil’s childhood (flashback) the older de Vere as teen at
who knows how many years earlier.
The internal time travel is more excessive than the external time travel of
Hamlet 2. The text marking years drops out, other conventions like
dissolves to indicate flashback kick in even though the flashback
sequences are not shot as flashbacks. The character is not actually
having flashback. There’s nothing subjective or interior; they are just as
“objective” as all of the other sequences.
So 27 minutes into the film, we have three actors playing de vere, two
playing Elizabeth, the same actor playing old Cecil (old in make up), two
playing the younger Cecil. Even the casting young and old characters is
De Vere says some NHist clichés like “all plays are political.”
He overhears the rebellion plot but advises Southampton not to take part in
it. De vere wants to avoid civil war. Jonson says he came to London to
write plays because “he wanted to change the world.”
When asked if he’s ever been arrested, he says “I write plays. Of course
I’ve been arrested.”
DVD menu—sheet of parchment, white, on background, trail of black ink
follows form initial splash of ink, black and white film turned color of
Oxford; it ends and ink moves by itself to the next scene. Six scenes
before it loops back to the original. Kind like a treasure map of sorts one
might find in National Treasure.
“A Centropolis entertainment.”
Anonymous is a play—marquee as Jacobi arrives late comes in through
the stage door. Stage dud cues theater. Jacobi speaks to the audience.
Two flashlights shine on him.
Not a single manuscript has ever been found. Actors getting dressed,
sound effects, tape recorder playing, Jacobi puts up umbrella as –we see
it, water fountain above him.
Our SHakeseare isa cipher a ghost et me offer a different story, a darker
story. Jacobi loos to his right, cut to an actor we’ve seen rehearsing
running through Tudo set. Solider with their flares lit, chasing him “Jonson,
I know you’re in here. He Jonson puts leather puch and other papers he’s
been carrying in an iron strong box as the guard gives order to burn the the
theater. Jonson took out firework of a box while in hiding. They go off as
Carrying nothing but a quill and some empty pages.
You are Benjamin Jonson.
Ask him about the plays
Answer is a parody of Polonious in Hamlet—historical pastoral.
We’re interested in the plays of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. As he is
Hit in the face, flashes to the the stage ad Shakespeare comes out on
Five years earlier—dayight and Oxford and Southampton go to the theater.
A play is going on—it’s The Alchemist. Jonson is reading the text behind
the stage. Shakespeare is acting. Peple laugh at itself to a character who
happens to look exactly like someone in the audience who gets up and
leaves. Shakespeare a dunk. “This play has been decalredsedtious by
Edward Lord . It’s a comedy there’s nothing seditious about. Man arrested
in audience and hten Jonson arrested too.
“that’s power.”
Since whendid words ever win a kingdom.
Cecil corresponding with James VI—Essex plots with Southampton to
support Essex going on the throne. Oxford overhears the plot. The son of
the Queen. That is rumor. Everyone thinks he is her son.
What Essex contemplates wil surely lead to civil war.” Oxford wants to do
it properly.
Cecil’s son is a hunchback. Southampton does nt bo as does everyone
ele when Elizabeth comes to court. Some man escorts her.
South presents her with a therater –drawrf announces his gift is a play.
Cecil is
Comedy by whom?
By anonymus your majesty
Anymous. I sooo admire his verse.
AMND is played outside—scene with Bottom singingas ass. Titania
wakes—what angel wakes me . .? If we
Forty years earlier as we go to puck and young Elizabeth. Pck is a child—
all of the acors are children; performance is inside. Cecil’s house. De Vere
is Puck and also the author. Elizabeth asks him to compose something on
on truth.
He is not only a poet but wants to serve—We may have found your
replacement, Lod Cecil.
Then back to the present with “Benjamin Jonson” being called by a guard
while Jonson is in a prison cell. You’ve been released. You’ve got powerful
friends now don’t you.” He is puzzled. R Ona boating rowng to De Ver’s
house—looks lke A Man for All Seasons.
The Tudo rose. My father in law—Lord William Cecil. Married to his only
Poliitcs, my pplay has nothing to with politics—all art is political, otherwise
it would just be ornamention. In the garden labyrinth, Oxford gives him a
scrpt—or has a servant give him. Under your name, Jonson. “In my
world, one does not write plays, Jonson. People
One performed at court, others never seen by aliving soul.
I mean all of them.
I mena to make you the most popular and most monetarilty successful.
Servants gives him a purse of momeny.
What about this play. And faereies and asses. Cecil recognizes that MND
from his son’s descrition. But the pay we saw n stage was not MND.
“Except one of Elizbeth’s bastards.”
You mean Essex. He despises us.”
Cecil with sned htem to Ireland—the Robert looks out the window nad has
a flashback to his youth—Robert! Robert come here with some strange
echoeing as after some back and for the brief shots, we are in the past
(who knows how many years earlier).
The plays Oxford gives are not named, nor is the one play Jonson knows
named, though we are to infer that it is MND since that is the only play that
has ever been performed. But was it aso the play? What is the play
Jonson knows?
Cecil is anti-poetry. Essex is a Renaissnace Man, a sort of Thomas More,
an future adviser or phillsoopher ot the king is not philosopher king.
Robert discovers papers as Oxford in another room is overheard. Now he
is older—has a moustache—actually we don’t know who he is—he spills
ink on the papers that remains as he leaves the desk and the room.
Oxford goes to the same room, sees the ink spilled. There are lots of
papers on the desk. Why didn’t the htief take htem? The thief is not Cecil.
The thief hides behind a curtain, his shoes show, he makes a noise—like
So Oxford is a kind of Hamlet figure.
He sabs the theif, who hten appers with the appers, now with blood on
Then cuts to the theater and acotrs taking a bow. Again, we don’t know
what time were in. The present? Es, that is Shakespeare taking a bow..
Jonson drinks behind a leather case, apparently holding a text. HE syas to
SHakespare he came to London to change the world. He quotes de Evere
saying he wil make him the most popular. “He’s a complete and utter
amawtuer.” He leaves out de Vere’s statements about politics. He hires
Jonsona sa mercenary, a relay. But Jonson want ss to write himself.
Dekker Soemaker’s Holiday—asks Marlowe in the audience.
I think we can go with the textual fauxrensics / CSI thing as played
out in Anonymous, etc.
We could connect this exhibition and this use of technology to
Shakespeare portraits. I remember now I took a lot of notes on
Shakespeare's tomb, Pope, etc. And there's Jim Shaprio's books. Ah
.. it's . . . all starting to come back to me now. The SHakespeare
cipher, the Bacon machine, and so on.
And we connect the exhibition to Renaissance films like Greenaway's
Nightwatching (the documentary about it is totally CSI). It also
centers on a sex crime ring--an orphanage uses as a brothel for hetero
One funny thing about Anonymous is the way it tries to connect
politics to the theater. But it totally fucks up things like the
Essex Rebellion and the deposition scene from RII or ELizabeth
attending a performance of AMND.
Sort of Beyond Facial Recognition
I don't know if i can actually read the mass market novels on
Cardenio. They are truly bad.
Perhaps we could juxtapose Cardenio and Anonymous. Why the missing
play has such fascination and why Anonymous blows the Oxford was
Shakespeare industry up. Oxford wasn't even Oxford! Kind of a weird
Nemo authorship logic in both cases. Author goes missing as other
authors come in as true author (both Cervantes and Theobald); real
author is not the real person the author is supposed to be (even the
constant shifting from young to old actors playing the same character
plays out this doubleness, as does the Jacobi frame and the hidden
manuscript frame. A double double falsehood.
Btw, check this out: