The historical conspiracy theory offered up in a Hollywood blockbuster opening today [Oct.28] — namely, that William Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by the Earl of Oxford — can be disproved by one stubborn fact: the 1609 “Sea Venture” wreck in Bermuda.
Director Roland Emmerich’s “Anonymous” is a political thriller and costume drama which dramatises the controversial theory that the works of Shakespeare [pictured] were written by an Elizabethan aristocrat, Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford.
His artistic output, long suppressed for its potentially seditious character, eventually finds a public venue through a playbroker, as rebels, whose cause de Vere supports, challenge the monarchy. Director Emmerich has Shakespeare, who is depicted as a simpleton and theatrical bit player, become the Earl’s secret frontman.
“The fatal weakness of the Oxfordian theory is chronological, a weakness that ‘Anonymous’ never addresses: the brute fact that Edward de Vere died in 1604, while Shakespeare continued to write, several times with partners, until 1613,” said one Shakespearean commentator this week.
“First produced in 1611, Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ was inspired by events posthumous to the Earl of Oxford: Sir George Somers’ s misadventure to Bermuda took place in 1609. How can anyone be inspired by events that happened after his death?”
Trailer For The New Film “Anonymous”
In his definitive study of the Bermuda/Shakespeare connection, American historian Hobson Woodward has argued July 28, 2009 marked two quadricentennials — one was the unintended founding of Bermuda by the“Sea Venture” castaways who came ashore here on a rain-whipped day in 1609.
The other was the 400th anniversary of the sprite Ariel, the wild man Caliban and mercurial magician Prospero — literary characters given life when the “Sea Venture” was wrecked in Bermuda and the story of how the ship’s company survived on the uninhabited island [referred to by name as "the still-vexed Bermoothes" in the play] captured the imagination of Shakespeare and resulted in “The_Tempest.”
In his book “A Brave Vessel”, Mr. Woodward tells the story of a sea voyage, shipwreck, and the settling of both Bermuda and Virginia.
He also chronicles connections between the “Sea Venture” wreck and Shakespeare’s play emerge throughout “The Tempest’s” narrative.
Published accounts of the Bermuda shipwreck circulated in London during the lifetime of William Shakespeare and some passages from these reports are cited almost word-for-word in “The Tempest.”
St. Georges Mayor Kenny Bascome at the November, 2010 dedication of the ”Sea Venture” memorial
“Anonymous”has been widely panned by critics, with “The New Yorker’s” David Denby dismissing the film as “a preposterous historical fantasia”. And Ron Rosenbaum at the on-line magazine “Slate” was particularly scathingly, branding the film “a high point in cinematic stupidity,” indeed, “in Western culture.” Likening the Oxford theory to the birther movement or creationism, he called on its proponents to “repudiate this botch of a movie,” which makes their “mendacious idea look like a ‘tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’ …” The $30 million movie stars Vanessa Redgrave as Elizabeth I of England, Rhys Ifans as Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford and Rafe Spall as William Shakespeare.
Widely regarded as Shakespeare’s last great play, “The Tempest” has been filmed at least a dozen times with acclaimed director Julie Taymor’s feminist take on the mystical tale of an enchanted island released last year.
Trailer For Director Julie Taymor’s 2010 Movie Of “The Tempest”
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