Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Was Shakespeare really Anonymous and other flicks about Brit lit folk

One of the big movie releases this month is surprisingly not a horror film but it does have a strong element of mystery and mayhem attached to it's premise. Anonymous speculates that the true author of Shakespeare's plays was a nobleman,Edward De Vere aka the 17th Earl of Oxford,who used an ill educated actor as his front man.

The concept that William Shakespeare wasn't the "real" writer of the famed plays and poetry still studied and performed today is not a new one. Theories abound regarding who he may have been,with the Earl being a prime suspect.

The movie mixes in some of the political intrigues that he was involved in as a member of the Elizabethan court in an attempt,I suspect,to make this whole story a bit more appealing to the non-literary crowd:

This isn't the first movie to take a speculative look at Shakespeare's life ,of course-many film fans have fond memories of 1998's Shakespeare in Love,which swept the Academy Awards that year.

Unlike this new film,however,Shakespeare in Love never claimed to be based on fact so audiences happily indulged in the romantic notion that the young playwright had a secret love affair with a young noble woman who also happened to be pretending to be a man in order to star in his new production of Romeo and Juliet(previously titled Romeo and Ethel,the Pirate's Daughter).

The movie was quite the charmer and even tho Shakespearean purists were none the happier about that,it did entice people into learning more about Shakespeare which made it all the worth while:

British authors do seem to be objects of wonder when it comes to their private lives both in print and on film. Another much pondered about writer,Jane Austen had her own romanticized biopic recently that carried it's fair share of praise and scorn from fans and scholars alike.

Becoming Jane not only imagined what Miss Austen's legendary encounter with Tom LeFroy was like,it also gave her a couple of unsuitable suitors in the bargain. Despite it's playing with the facts we do know about her life,the film did highlight the determination that Jane had for staying true to her writing:

Writers in love is a popular theme in this category,particularly for the ladies who are depicted here. Renee Zellweger took up her British accent again in 2006 when cast as the lead in Miss Potter,which chronicled the life of Peter Rabbit creator Beatrix Potter.

While her struggles to be published and taken seriously as an author are central to the story,it's the budding romance between Beatrix and her editor Norman Warne that is thrust to the forefront here. Since that was a key part in her tale,leaving it out would've been wrong:

And to be fair,gentlemen are not entirely left out of the lover's limelight. The supposed origins of J.M. Barrie's childhood classic Peter Pan were explored in 2004's Finding Neverland,which told the mostly true to life story of the author's platonic connection with a widow and her four young sons.

The plot plays with touches of fantasy and whimsy within the serious dramatic themes of societal scorn,troubled families and tragic illness,a tough balancing act indeed.

Nevertheless,Finding Neverland managed to keep all of it's oars in the water,so to speak,and was highly praised by moviegoers and most of the critics:

I guess that the main reason we find biographies of British authors so fascinating is due to their innate instinct to keep mum about what goes on behind closed doors. Considering the overabundance of personal information so many are willing to share with the world these days,that's not such a bad notion to consider taking up.

As for Shakespeare,imaging who really did write those plays sounds like fun but I prefer to focus more on the work rather than the man that created it. Sometimes,you can learn more about an artist's inner mind by taking a longer look at their physical creations than checking out the bare facts about their everyday existence:

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