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What’s in a name? Would a rose written by any other person smell as sweet? That’s one of the questions Anonymous, a movie that calls into question the true authorship of Shakespeare’s plays, would have us ask. Focusing on Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford, and the intrigue of English history, Anonymous posits that De Vere wrote the works of Shakespeare for political means, playwright Ben Jonson was a willing accomplice, and the actual Will Shakespeare was a buffoonish, opportunistic actor. Somewhere, Oliver Stone is enthusiastically rubbing his hands together.

ClearPlay In Action!

Though Anonymous is stodgy and pompous, there’s still plenty of work for ClearPlay to do. Two scenes of intercourse are cut, as are about 30 profanities and sexual references. Violence comes in the way of some sword fighting and a rebellion where many are shot, and ClearPlay handily trims the bloody portions. Does this make Anonymous family friendly? Probably not. It’s doubtful you’d be able to get a kid to sit through the sometimes confusing and generally slow narrative.

To watch or not to watch Anonymous … Is that the question?…

As an alternate history, Anonymous has some interesting ideas, terrific production values, and a loving recreation of the period. It wants to be taken seriously, like Amadeus, but lacks the sense of humor and fun that make the best costume dramas come alive. Hence, its moments of brilliance are interspersed with plodding backstory, and it’s best suited for history buffs, theater folk, or fans of conspiracy theories.

Marty Nabhan—ClearPlay Writer of This Article … or am I?

Rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual content; 130 min; Directed by Roland Emmerich
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