Anonymous (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 7-Mar-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Making Of-3
Audio Commentary
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 129:57
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Roland Emmerich

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Rhys Ifans
Vanessa Redgrave
Sebastian Armesto
Rafe Spall
David Thewlis
Edward Hogg
Xavier Samuel
Case ?
RPI ? Music Harald Kloser
Thomas Wanker

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Italian DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Spanish DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Catalan Dolby Digital 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    William Shakespeare is one of the famous names in writing the world has ever known. His works are studied in schools, performed on stage and made into television and movies constantly. There have been ideas and theories put forward for many years about whether Shakespeare actually wrote the plays and sonnets for which he is justifiably very famous. This film takes one of the theories and turns it into a fictional film. The theory is that Shakespeare could not have written the plays as he would not have been educated enough or travelled widely enough for it to have been possible. The theory expounded here is that the actual author was a nobleman, Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford, a lover of Queen Elizabeth I. It is an interesting theory and results in a film which is certainly worthwhile for people who enjoy costume dramas or have an interest in Shakespeare.

    In the film, Edward De Vere (Rhys Ifans) is obsessed with writing plays and does so at the expense of any political ambitions he may have had. He originally attracts the attention of the young Queen Elizabeth I (Joely Richardson) as a young man staging a play for the Queen's amusement. After his father dies, he is sent to live in the household of the Lord Chamberlain, Sir William Cecil (David Thewlis) who is a puritan. He wants plays and poetry outlawed and does not allow the young man to be educated in those sinful pursuits. During his time there he gets himself into trouble and Cecil's resolution involves getting Oxford to marry his only daughter. Later in life, Oxford decides to find someone in the theatre scene to perform his plays under their own name. For this purpose, he hires Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto) , who will later become a famous playwright and England's first poet laureate. However, Jonson decides to stage the first play as written by Anonymous rather than under his own name. When the crowd demands to know who has written the marvellous new play, a hard drinking illiterate actor, Will Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) claims responsibility. Shakespeare gains fame and fortune and De Vere gets the satisfaction of having his plays published. Another subplot in the film involves De Vere using the plays for political purposes to try and help the young Earls of Essex and Southampton in their political manoeuvres to try and removes the Cecils (William and his son Robert) from their positions of power and improve their position in the jockeying to succeed the aging Queen Elizabeth I (Vanessa Redgrave).

    The film is bookended by a modern prologue and epilogue, done by Derek Jacobi, on stage in a modern theatre, as if the whole movie is a Shakespeare play. It is an interesting device but I am not sure that it completely works. This film tells an interesting story, fictional of course, and is generally well made, with quality acting from a great cast, wonderful cinematography and impressive special effects (with all scenes shot on green screen to some degree. The only real problem I have with this film  is that the structure cutting across various time periods is sometimes a little difficult to follow and might have been better told sequentially. An interesting thing about this film is that it was funded and directed by Roland Emmerich, whose name is associated with action films such as 2012, Independence Day and Godzilla and has never previously attempted a film like this. To my mind, he does an admirable job with this film, which to my mind should have been seen by more people than its $15 million global box office would indicate saw it at the cinema. It was Oscar nominated for costume design which is certainly justified. The music is also of high quality adding significantly to the feel of the movie.

    I would recommend this film who enjoy costume dramas. I found it interesting and well made.


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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is excellent.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 1080p encoded using AVC.

    The picture was very clear and sharp throughout.The shadow detail was nothing special for Blu-ray, however this is at least partially driven by the lighting choices to give a Tudor period feel.

    The colour was excellent featuring inky blacks and great colour reproduction for outdoor scenes and costumes.

    There are no noticeable artefacts.

    There are subtitles in English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Hindi, Italian and Spanish. The English subtitles are clear and easy to read.

    There are no obvious layer changes during playback.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is very good bordering on excellent.

    This disc contains an English soundtrack in DTS-HD MA 5.1 along with extra DTS-HD MA tracks in Italian and Spanish plus Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in Catalan and Descriptive Audio plus a commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Dialogue was occasionally a little difficult to make out and is really my only criticism of the soundtrack.

    The music by Harald Kloser and Thomas Wander is marvellous and sounds great on this disc. These composers are regular collaborators with Emmerich.

    The surround speakers were incredibly well used considering the style of this film. Scenes in the theatres showed great atmosphere in the surrounds making the most of the high definition format. Other scenes also used the surrounds regularly for sounds of fire, thunder, rain and more.

    The subwoofer was used to support the music and add bass to crowd scenes and action.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    A quality selection of extras are included.


    The menu included sounds and scenes from the film and a nice design.

Deleted Scenes (2:54)

    Two or three short scenes which were rightly cut from the film.

Extended Scenes (3:29)

    Extended versions of a couple of less important scenes in the film.

More than Special Effects (13:08)

    Basically a making of featurette which shows how they recreated Tudor London using green screen but also covers the modular set design and costumes. A more interesting making of than most.

Who is the real William Shakespeare? (10:38)

    The cast and crew discuss their views on the theory expounded by the film. Not Bad.

Speak the Speech (16:04)

    Casting featurette about the various actors and why they were chosen or how they got involved. Worth a look.

Audio Commentary - Roland Emmerich and writer John Orloff

    An interesting and informative commentary which is quite scene specific and covers how the two worked together on the story, the history of the times and the real characters. Well worthwhile.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Blu-ray version of this film in Region A is the same.


    An interesting fiction about the possibility that Shakespeare didn't write his famous works.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are good quality.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, April 20, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplaySharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into BD player. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Is it all fiction? - penguin (there is no bio) REPLY POSTED
Is it all fiction? - cztery
Emmerich's previous works. - wolfgirv
Emmerich & Gibson - bad directors - cztery