Is there anyone here who is familiar with the name Fred Quimby. I'm sure it rings a bell. Here's a clue: Tom and Jerry. And what does Mr Quimby have to do with Tom and Jerry? Well, very little, actually.
Those – in my view spectacularly good – cartoons were the creation of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, as in Hanna-Barbera, when they were working for MGM. Quimby, whose name appears prominently – very prominently – as the producer in the final credits had, on the other hand, very little to do with their creation. He was, in fact, merely the head of the department which produced those gems.
Reputedly, Quimby was a rather humourless man forever at odds with Hanna and Barbera and the suggestion has even been made that although Quimby originally gave the green light to the long series of Tom and Jerry cartoons, he contributed almost nothing to their success. So what has Mr Quimby to do with Roland Emerich's film Anonymous? Well, this Emerich made his mark with Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and other rather unsubtle blockbusters, and who can't doubt that he has a certain gift of some kind in that field. Those films are not at all to my taste, but their success cannot be gainsaid.
So on the face of it Anonymous was a rather odd choice for the man. Certainly, he had far more to do with the film's production that Mr Quimby had to do with Tom and Jerry, but those cartoons sprung to mind while I was watching Anonymous in that the whole experience is oddly cartoonish. Subtlety is not Roland's strong suit, and what Anonymous and its 'story' desperately needs is subtlety. So on that score it's 1-0 to failure.
What Emerich can and does bring to Anonymous is spectacle: Elizabethan London with all its squalor is brought to life with vigour, his actors perform with vigour, everything is a rousing spectacle – and so on and on an on. And that is exactly what Anonymous, or rather the film, its theme and suggestion and execution doesn't need. It needed a light touch, not the Germanic vigour so capably and so unnecessarily applied by Emerich.
The suggestion that Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was, in fact, the true author of the plays attributed to a glover's son from Warwickshire, is a contentious one. It has it's champions, and although I am not one of them, it would be quite amusing to see the theory propounded in a film such as Anonymous. Add to the mix the volatile question in the last years of Queen Elizabeth's reign of who would succeed her, and there is very fertile ground for a good, interesting and amusing film. Sadly, Emerich's film isn't it.
The actors, some of the best in the business it has to be said, are required by Emerich to declaim their lines and outline the plot in a manner which was the hallmark of Hollywood 50 years ago. But filmmaking has since moved on considerably, and a better producer/director might well have made a good fist of Anonymous. But instead we got the dead hand of Emerich.
Oh, all right it is, in its peculiar mish-mash of a way it is entertaining enough - and a mish-mash it most certainly is - but it could have been so, so much better. And there's the shame.
Action / Drama / History / Thriller
Action / Drama / History / Thriller
Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, is presented as the real author of Shakespeare's works. Edward's life is followed through flashbacks from a young child, through to the end of his life. He is portrayed as a child prodigy who writes and performs A Midsummer Night's Dream for a young Elizabeth I. A series of events sees his plays being performed by a frontman, Shakespeare.
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January 21, 2012 at 11:11 AM