Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 23 April 2012

"... but here I am"

James Stewart, in an interview with Peter Bogdanovich, referred to those special movie moments as "pieces of time" - the little moments that impress and stay with one: a look, a gesture, a line reading, a particular moment that one likes. I got such a one in ANONYMOUS when Vanessa Redgrave's Elizabeth I lists all the people who wanted her dead - "Philip of Spain, Mary Queen of Scots ... and 8 popes" and then adds "but HERE I am" as she has survived them all ... for me it was the best moment of the film.    I would not be surprised if it was filmed on blank stages as all the Elizabethan stuff looks like it was added in afterwards by the CGI boys. It is a fascinating premise that Shakespeare (a buffoonish drunken actor, here played by Rafe Spall) did not actually write the plays, but it was Edward De Vere, The Earl of Oxford, who did so but who due to the political intrigues of the time, could not put his name to them. Shakespeare after all did not have the required education then. The intrigues at court are as usual interesting even if here they take place in very gloomy interiors.

This project attracted quite a cast - Derek Jacobi sets the scene (presumably for those not familiar with the Elizabethan court), Mark Rylance also features, Rhys Ifans is quite good as Oxford, and the main point of interest is the casting of Redgrave and her daughter Joely Richardson as Elizabeth I - no virgin queen here! - thats all I can say without giving away too much of what follows ... It is good to see Vanessa, who was also MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, (Vanessa Redgrave label), adding Elizabeth I to her gallery, she also gets to reprise that moment that Glenda Jackson so effectively did in her magisterial series ELIZABETH R, where when she was dying she stands with her finger in her mouth ... Vanessa's raddled old queen is certainly a different interpretation. Roland Emmerich directs - quite a change from 2012 and THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (which we quite liked) and the whole crazy thing was written by John Orloff.   

I am not a Shakespeare scholar per se but certainly like the works that I know: all those HAMLETs that I saw (Peter McEnery, Michael York, Alan Bates, Jonathan Pryce, Stephen Dillane, David Tennant...), THE MERCHANT OF VENICE that I acted in at college, the wild poetry of MACBETH - Orson Welles' and the McKellen-Dench version; Paul Schofield's Prospero in THE TEMPEST, Olivier's tour de force as OTHELLO and of course Orson's perfect Falstaff in his labour of love CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT, and that magisterial Russian HAMLET in 1964 by Kozintsev (not to mention Olivier and Branagh's versions), and Zeffirelli's lush adaptations. ANONYMOUS is no SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (costume drama label) alas and quickly gets tedious as the plot gets more and more far-fetched until one is laughing out loud at its ridiculousness.  But if it gets more people interested in the plays - ultimately it does not matter who wrote them or  that we know nothing much about the real Shakespeare,  but that the works exist and will continue to fascinate us for evermore. The CGI is rather good at suggesting the Queen's funeral - was it really on the frozen Thames? Now I can go back to Simon Callow and his great performance in BEING SHAKESPEARE which was televised last week ... that's Shakespeare!

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