As I was checking to see how Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous did over the weekend, I noticed something that I hadn’t seen before in the movie’s summary – namely that it notes Charles Dickens among those with an interest in the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. Even thought I knew it was just a mild form of sensationalizing, the idea that Dickens may have looked down on Shakespeare was disappointing (See the previous post). I hardly think of him as perfect, but if any of his (contemporary) countrymen and women supported the idea of what could come from Shakespeare’s slightly humble beginnings, I’d have thought it’d be Dickens.
So it was good to find out that it was “a great comfort” to his way of thinking “that so little is known concerning the poet.” In Dickens’ imagination, Shakespeare’s life was a “fine mystery.” He didn’t always have the broadest sense of people beyond certain shades, but as far as canonized writers go, the senses he did have were still enough to be uniquely affective across margins today.
Someone else who gets a credit in the Anonymous summary of Shakespeare questioners is Mark Twain. Twain makes a fine case for Shakespeare not being the author of works credited to him, but it’s one that is strengthened by only accepting undeniable facts (hard enough if Shakespeare hadn’t been dead for some two-hundred years), and never does it take into account any possibility that Shakespeare was riffing, growing and collaborating on a template. To some extent, that template already included what some think could only be a royal’s reverence for royalty.
It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that Twain liked to be contrary (and, often enough, with good reason) – but if his Is Shakespeare Dead? indicates one thing to me, it’s that the blind idolatry and pompousness of at least one Shakespeare devotee made Twain want to always be contrary to the writer himself.
As for Anonymous itself, the movie has divided critics, though even its detractors generally seem to think it’s not a bad movie. Somehow, despite what people associate Emmerich with being capable of, the movie has come off as more than spectacle.
In Ryan Lambie’s “Hollywood’s rules of attraction: a rant,” he uncommonly examined a typical theme in movies. I’ll end this post with an excerpt:
It’s perfectly okay for actors like Kevin James and Jason Segel to attract unspeakably gorgeous women, but the reverse almost never, ever happens. When it does, it becomes a movie’s entire premise. In Shallow Hal, Jack Black’s character eventually learns to be less superficial when looking for a soul mate, and learns to (God forbid) love Gwyneth Paltrow in a fat suit. That Jack Black is no pin-up is never mentioned.
The same is true far beyond the boundaries of the romantic comedy. Nic Cage was paired with Jessica Biel as his love interest in Next, even though she’s at least a hundred years younger than he, and at least three times more attractive.