It’s 2 hours of fun, some great performances and a few twists and turns that keep you guessing. All in all a fun period piece. I loved seeing the Elizabethan world brought to life. I also think it showed us powerfully the devious and scheming world of the Elizabethan Epoch. Also the power of the playwright is shown, do they still have this power?
What of its controversial premise though? Not surprisingly it goes to a rather extreme end of the debate, and paints a portrayal of Shakespeare as a crude and illiterate actor. The focus of this film though is very much on the Earl of Oxford – as it purports that he wrote the plays, as it follows closely the Prince Tudor Theory (itself a derivative of the Oxfordian theory). The film offers nothing new to the debate, but I’m sure has brought it to a wider audience. It certainly got me to revisit my tomes and references on the subject, and as I did my Shakespeare module 4 years ago at college, I’m a bit rusty on the bard.
To me it is a fascinating idea, I know many feel it is elitist to propose that Shakespeare wasn’t educated enough to write what he did, but for me that’s not been a problem, as it is unusual (not impossible I hasten to add!) that Shakespeare could write such wonderful works.
Personally, I think the truth probably lies somewhere between the two. The fact that as far as we know, Shakespeare never was imprisoned even though some of his plays were highly political has always bothered me. He certainly had friends in high places to avoid a stay in the Tower. Also I’m sure he must have been given suggestions and informed of the histories by someone more schooled than him. However as an actor, I think Shakespeare had a superb understanding of what makes good drama and great plays (with the exception of Hamlet 😉 ) . That’s what I feel he brought to the table. As stated on this blog previously, I’m sure he collaborated more than we’re aware, with other actors and playwrights. None of this is to denigrate his work, in fact I think that is the hallmark of a shrewd and wise writer.
I enjoyed it, it’s not convinced me that Shakespeare was a fraud, but it’s certainly brought the Oxfordian Theory debate into the 21st century, which I’m sure will annoy many who wished to consign it to the 20th!