A political thriller advancing the theory that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford who penned Shakespeare's plays; set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I, and the Essex Rebellion against her.
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I am a big fan of movies from this time period. I had read some of the reviews for this movie and expected it to be outstanding. Unfortunately it was not. Don't get me wrong I still deem it as pretty good but based on what I had heard it was a little bit of a let down. Even though, I would still suggest it as a movie to watch.
An exquisite sixteenth century drama that will take your breath away as you are transported into not only an aristocratic world of Earls, Royalty and their corrupt advisors but to the muddy old London of the commoners complete with a commercially burdened down London Bridge and the all important, well worn, open air Theatre.
The Theatre is the cultural hub for the underclasses where they are content to stand in the rain to enjoy the local comedy. They can also be so moved by some of the more tragic plays as to become actually part of the play, as individuals or as a mob. It is here in the Theatres that the common people are coached to act on their loathing of the ruling classes.
So, did Shakespeare write the works he is famous for, or 'have we all been played'? Here a hypothesis is presented with all its lucious twists and complications and more than one jaw-dropper. See the film and decide for yourselves. (You may have to watch it more than once to free youself of the insidious 'What-Earl-Is-That-itis; but the settings, scenes, costumes and acting make that a complete pleasure.)
Seventy-five year old Vanessa Redgrave's performance as the aging Queen Elizabeth I was just, well, WOW! Her daughter Joely Richardson, played the young tenacious Queen with an unexpected freshness.
Rhys Ifans is the passionate Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford and Sebastian Armesto plays the struggling playwrite Ben Johnson, who keeps his secret.
Favourite scene: On Edward De Vere's death-bed he asks for and receives Ben Johnson's opinion of his works: "You are the soul of the age!"