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Disaster-flick auteur Roland Emmerich takes on William Shakespeare

April 7, 2011 | 11:50 am


The idea that Roland Emmerich -- the disaster-flick auteur behind "Independence Day," "The Day After Tomorrow" and "2012" -- was taking on William Shakespeare for his next movie project struck many as strange, incongruous and just plain wrong. What business does the director of "Godzilla" have mangling the Bard's poetry?

Despite its highbrow Elizabethan milieu, "Anonymous" appears cut from the same CGI cloth as  Emmerich's previous films, with a green-screened Globe serving as backdrop for an action-conspiracy story suggesting that Shakespeare was not the author of his plays.

The movie hauls out the familiar Oxfordian theory of Shakespearean authorship that posits that Edward de Vere was in fact the man behind the Bard's masterpieces. The movie's oddball cast includes funnyman Rhys Ifans as De Vere, Vanessa Redgrave as Elizabeth I and Rafe Spall ("Hot Fuzz") as Shakespeare. Derek Jacobi reprises his "Henry V" role as the Prologue who narrates the action.

While Emmerich's disaster flicks feature some self-awareness as to their own ridiculousness, it remains uncertain how seriously we're supposed to take "Anonymous." The trailer, plus the fall release date, suggests the making of a prestige project. Surely the greatest special effect would be Emmerich winning an Oscar.


Emmerich Orlando Bloom teaming up with L.A. Philharmonic for Shakespeare-themed concert

To be sane or not to be sane? For Hamlet, a question still unanswered

Derek Jacobi, from 'The King's Speech' to 'King Lear'

 -- David Ng

Photo: Roland Emmerich. Credit: Joe Lederer / Columbia Tristar