Tuesday, April 17, 2012

To be or not to be...

Shakespeare's House - Stratford-upon-Avon' 1854. By Henry Wallis.

Intriguingly enough this painting (which I find attractively enigmatic) had some sort of 'assist' by the famed English painter Edwin Landseer  (maybe the dog?) who 'touched' up the artwork and added some Shakespearean 'memorials' which if you look hard enough, you'll find. Pre-Landseer's tinkering, the painting was a straighforward enough composition of the stairs leading up to the room in which Shakespeare was born. Or so I understand it.
Read all about it here. Though I did and I'm still a bit confused as to just how much Landseer added to the mix. The painting currently hangs in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The Room in Which Shakespeare Was Born by Henry Wallis.

And by the way...

I recently tried to watch ANONYMOUS,  a film released last year about the possibility of Shakespeare's plays NOT having been written by him but by the Earl of Oxford. Shakespeare, according to this preposterous screenplay, comes into his legendary fame by the back door, in a sort of lightning striking a dolt type of thing. For in this movie, Shakespeare is very much a dolt. Make no mistake. That is the point of this smug disaster of a film. Oxford MUST have written the plays since Shakespeare was just a stupid clod.

Oxford keeps 'his' manuscripts gathering dust, stored in a dark room where, apparently, they languish waiting for the obnoxiously acerbic Earl to find an opportunity to thrust them onto an unsuspecting public. 

When the moment is ripe,the plays' authorship is supposed to go to Christopher Marlowe, but Marlowe is simply too physically and morally uncoordinated to grab the reins. Hence, the sudden ascendancy of a no account actor, Will Shakespeare.

The whole pretense is necessary because people of Oxford's titled ilk do NOT write plays, at least, not so anybody of consequence knows about it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I got about fifteen or twenty minutes into this mish-mash before I simply gave up, shut down the dvd player,  re-packaged the film  and shipped it back from whence it had come: Netflix.

The ANONYMOUS screenplay by John Orloff is so disoriented, the film itself so ungainly that you sit there stupefied not only by the dialogue but by the on-screen situations. This is a Roland Emmerich film - isn't he supposed to be some high-toned movie mucky muck? Yegads, what an abomination!

Now look, I am willing to consider the idea that Shakespeare might not have written his plays (I don't believe it, but I'm willing to suspend disbelief if the film or book is good enough) so that wasn't what turned me off this gigantic botch of a movie. 

So what did turn you off, Yvette?

It was the sheer mind-boggling, incoherent movie-making. That's all.

On a side note: It seems to me that what all the Shakespeare naysayers apparently forget when dissing the Bard of Avon is this: the serendipity of genius striking willy-nilly. 

Ha! Willy-nilly. Just got it.

This movie poster is actually better than the movie. 


  1. Hi, Yvette - I find it interesting that so many people are intent on discrediting Shakespeare, and I'm glad I wasn't drawn to see the movie.

    The story of the Wallis painting reminds me that there's a Rembrandt painting in No. 10 Downing Street. Churchill thought that it would benefit with a mouse in one corner, and actually added one! I read the story decades ago, and I don't doubt it.

  2. Hello Yvette:
    A most intriguing painting and one which on all our visits to the V&A we cannot recall seeing.

    WE are heeding your warning about 'Anonymous' and will pass on it!!

  3. With Winston Churchill, ANYTHING was possible. He's one of my heroes and that is such an amusing (and startling) anecdote, Mark. I just wouldn't put it past him. :)

    I think the Shakespeare thing is based on the naysayers wanting an explanation for genius. The problem is: there IS NO explanation for genius. Especially 'genius' on this grand scale.

  4. Jane and Lance: Maybe the next time you're at the museum, you can ask about it. It's possible that at this moment it's in a back room somewhere being spruced up or whatnot.

    I would be curious to find out what you find out. :)

  5. I try to avoid anything that implies Shakespeare didn't write the works attributed to him. The fact that there are many contemporary accounts of Shakespeare's writing, the fact that Ben Jonson wrote a lovely poem upon Shakespeare's death (which includes the line "he had little latin and less greek"), the fact that NOBODY thought someone else wrote Shakespeare's plays until about 150 years after he died, none of this makes the slightest impression on people who are bound and determined to ignore the facts and believe that someone else wrote as Shakespeare.

    /There's probably a political analogy in there somewhere, but yours is not a political blog and I won't start a flame war. Ha-ha!

  6. Deb: I'm in complete agreement with you. It's as if the naysayers believe that genius has to have some sort of social class stricture. What bosh.

    Stay away from ANONYMOUS. Yes! I wish I had. ;)


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