Emmerich To Direct Shakespeare Thriller

Published 6 years ago by , Updated August 7th, 2013 at 12:18 pm,

Here are two names we never thought we’d see in the same sentence: Roland Emmerich and William Shakespeare.

In a collision of high and low culture that sounds like something The Onion might have cooked up, Emmerich, director of such cinema spectacles as 10,000 BC, The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, and the upcoming 2012, is set to direct a movie about the great Bard.

The film, titled Anonymous, tackles the controversy over whether Shakespeare actually wrote all of the plays attributed to him. It’s no secret the prolific playwright lifted plotlines and characters from history (in the case of Julius Caesar, for example) or other sources (Romeo and Juliet was brought to the stage several times before Shakespeare’s version), but some literary historians claim the philosopher Francis Bacon or rival dramaturge Christopher Marlowe authored some, if not all, of Shakespeare’s works.

Emmerich’s Anonymous focuses on a third possible author:

It’s not Marlowe, it’s De Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. [Anonymous is] kind of like a political thriller. It’s about who will succeed Elizabeth and the cause of that thriller, the Essex Rebellion, we take on and we learn how the plays were written by somebody else.

Before you start thinking that this movie is going to require some serious homework to understand, remember the director we’re talking about here. Emmerich took the scientific concept of climate change and made it seriously dumbed down in The Day After Tomorrow. So don’t worry, he won’t be requiring you to think too much. In his words, the film’s pretty well researched, but “Naturally, for dramatic reasons you sometimes alter facts.”


Emmerich’s last historical recreation, the ultra-violent Mel Gibson vehicle The Patriot (set during the Revolutionary War) was panned both in Arts sections and on the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times for playing so loose with facts it misrepresented history. And seeing as his plot description uses the word “thriller” twice, I get the impression he’s not going to be as interested in the writing process or the period details as the last Shakespeare biopic to play in theaters-John Madden’s Academy Award winning Shakespeare in Love.

So get ready to have your view of Shakespeare forever ruined altered. Shooting on Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous begins March 22nd of next year, though preliminary filming has already begun.

Source: ComingSoon.net

TAGS: Anonymous
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  1. Let him go for it!

  2. Ugh.


  3. It sounds like it’ll do to English classes what The Da Vinci Code did to churches and what Van Helsing did to reading Dracula in English classes.

  4. I happen to be an Oxfordian (that means I believe Edward de Vere was Shakespeare) and if this film is about who will succeed Elizabeth than it is more than likely going to focus on the Prince Tudor theory (a theory I don’t believe, but one that is common amongst Oxfordian’s nonetheless).

    It basically says that De Vere and Elizabeth had a kid, and that that kid was the true heir to the throne, but because Elizabeth had built up this image of herself as “The Virgin Queen” she couldn’t very well late it out that she and De Vere were having an affair, especially since she was still in the process of finding a suitor.

    Chances are, since this is Emmerich we’re talking about, it’ll be bloated down, horrible historically inaccurate, and will no doubt hurt us Oxfordians in the public, and more importantly, professional eye.

    However this is no where near as bad as The Da Vinci code, in that anybody who has actually sat down and read a good number of Shakespeare’s plays will tell you that there was no way an uneducated peasant who never even left Britain was the guy behind some of the most important literature in the English language. Whether or not you believe it’s De Vere is another point entirely, but there is some truth to the “conspiracy.”

  5. Josh– I agree that Emmerich’s film is likely to be bloated and historically inaccurate, but stand by the word conspiracy in regards to the Shakespeare authorship question. Look at Einstein–he didn’t have an advanced degree, and his scientific contributions are immense. Shakespeare was gifted, and way too prolific for me to believe that someone both wrote all those plays and lead another public life. As interesting as this all is to argue though, I also think you’re right that this movie is going to garner your theory a lot of ridicule.

    Or who knows. Maybe Emmerich will surprise us all. And maybe your theory holds water. Though I’m doubtful about both!

  6. So… spaceships? Yay, spaceships!!!

  7. @Tim

    don’t forget tidal waves!!! Woo hoo!!!

  8. Wait I thought he was working on The Foundation Trilogy next? Oh well at least this is a good leap forward, he said one more disaster movie and thats it, and 2012 is indeed the mother of all disaster movies…EVERYTHING GETS BLOWN UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No one is spared! So A Anyonmes is next and then The Foundation Trilogy, nice to see him move up.

  9. Shakespeare was not an 'uneducated peasant'. In fact ha had a very good education in a Latin school and his father was a businessman and a community leader. I'm not saying that he necessarily wrote the plays, we'll probably never know for sure, but at least get the facts straight.

  10. There is absolutely NO PROOF that William Shaksper (the correct spelling of his name) ever went to ANY school. His father was a community leader – true, but his father, his mother, and all of his own children NEVER even learned to read or write. They ALL signed their names with an “X.” Those are the FACTS!Bardman

  11. Josh,
    As a fellow Oxfordian, I choose to hope that any film that at least gets Edward's name out there in the mainstream, will get people thinking – maybe even researching on their own to discover the truth.
    There can be no doubt that de Vere wrote the essential bulk of the plays, perhaps with some assistance from his secretaries, Munday and Lyly, as well as some later additions and changes by his son-in-law, William Stanley, who probably was the man behind the publishing of the plays for some profit for his impoverished mother-in-law – de Vere's widow.
    I can't wait to see what parts of the story the film includes – but it is about time that a film that includes Elizabeth will also include Edward. It has always amazed me that “historians” choose to blank de Vere out of their books, documentaries, and films because they have forever been too afraid to even touch the man who cannot be mentioned without bringing in the idea (the very truth, I say) that he is the real Shake-Speare!

  12. While your right that there isn't actual written documentation of Shakespeare (the modern spelling, like who cares) attending school, the fact is that there was a very good school in Stratford that was free. It is highly unlikely that the son of a respectable merchant and land owner wouldn't go to this school. Also, Ben Jonson commented on Shakespeare's knowledge of Latin and Greek, which, I guess, could have been self-taught, but if he was smart enough to teach himself Latin and Greek, he could easily have the talent to write the plays.

    As for his children, I think that we can all agree that they didn't write the plays, so who cares. I don't know if they could write or not.

  13. As the author of Oxford: Son of Queen Elizabeth I, I can only say that this movie will be a break through by stating that the 17th Earl of Oxford is the author known as “William Shakespeare.”

    As to the references above to PT theory, let me straighten this out for those not familiar with the Earl of Oxford and the studies thereof.

    PT Theory, Part I, was developed in the 1950′s by the Ogburn’s who stated that Oxford and Queen Elizabeth I were lovers and had a child, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton.

    PT Theory, Part II, was discovered by me which says that Oxford was the son of Princess Elizabeth, born on July 21, 1548, at Cheshunt. The father of the child was her stepfather, Thomas Seymour. The child was hidden with John de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford and raised as Edward de Vere.

    Putting Part I and Part II together, means that this relationship and the subsequent child, Southampton, were the result of an incestuous mother-son relationship. The going gets tough and history is not always pleasant. But any reader of Shakespeare knows, (including Freud) that incest was a huge theme in many of Shakespeare’s works, including Hamlet.

    Emmerlich should be congratulated on his boldness in presenting these themes to the general public for the first time. His film presents the end of Elizabeth’s reign, but the beginning, her secret child, etc., are equally fascinating.

    Paul Streitz
    Oxford: Son of Queen Elizabeth IJ

  14. Bardman claims of Shakespeare that “his father, his mother, and all of his own children NEVER even learned to read or write. They ALL signed their names with an “X. Those are the FACTS.” No, they are not facts. Sussanna signed her name. We have a copy of her signature. Even the more knowledgable Oxfordians acknowledge this.

      • Hi, Paul. What you don’t know about Shakespeare never surprises me. Look us Susanna Shakespeare on Wikipedia and you can see a copy of her signature.