It’s like an asteroid headed straight for Earth. At first it’s barely a dot on the radar. Before you know it, it’s passed the orbit of Mars and there’s nothing you can do about it but wait for the impact. The closer the day of reckoning comes, the more it reveals of itself, causing people to run away screaming, as if there were any chance of escape. Finally, some time between September 8 and September 18, it explodes—
on movie screens somewhere in Toronto. For this is not a Nemesis from a Roland Emmerich movie. It is a Roland Emmerich movie. The man who gave us Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and the much-loved remake of Godzilla now turns to smaller-scale destruction with Anonymous, his contribution to the Authorship Question. As I noted in an earlier post, Emmerich doesn’t just embrace the Oxfordian position; he adopts the extreme version on which Oxford was the son of Elizabeth I. Or so the publicity has it. Emmerich must be ticked that Doctor Who already took the title The Shakespeare Code.
I suppose that at some point, perhaps around the US-UK premiere of Anonymous on October 28, I’ll have to break down and actually discuss the Authorship Controversy. I don’t intend to do so in any depth, since there’s no arguing with Shakespeare Deniers (note to all Deniers: whoever your favored candidate, please feel free to go at it in the comments. I will not delete or censor—I reserve that sanction for personal attacks—but don’t expect me to jump in), and because James Shapiro has said pretty much everything that needs to be said, and said it brilliantly, in Contested Will. I’m bringing Anonymous up now just because I saw a trailer on Film School Rejects. I’m not linking for the trailer (you can find all the trailers so far issued on YouTube) so much as for the writer’s sassy attitude; she seems like an intelligent person who doesn’t claim special expertise in Shakespeare—my audience (take a bow!), and presumably Emmerich’s intended audience. With that in mind, I particularly enjoyed the closing quote:
The only thing that will truly surprise about Anonymous is if Emmerich doesn’t take his revisionist history to the next degree and blow up the Globe Theatre mid-performance by way of some sort of massive fireball that shoots out dinosaurs and naked women while the theatre-going citizens run around ablaze, shocked and dismayed that they will never see what happens at the end of Hamlet (hint, theatre-goers, it’s a tragedy, they all die, learn your Shakespeare). God save the Queen.
There’s one other thing, the observation that “Anonymous has somehow wrangled up a world premiere at TIFF.” Yes, the Toronto International Film Festival, that week and a half every September when the exclusive shopping streets of Yorkville are choked with celebrity seekers hoping for a glimpse of Brad Pitt or George Clooney or Cate Blanchett. Oh yeah—there are movies too. When I moved to Toronto in 2006 TIFF was still relatively accessible for the ordinary moviegoer. It wasn’t that hard to get tickets (though good luck if you had to wait on line for returns) and the movies were extremely interesting. I saw two French films that I believe never got a North American theatrical release: Mon Meillieur Ami, by my favorite French director, Patrice Leconte, and a rotoscoped black-and-white feature called Renaissance, featuring the voices and images of Daniel Craig, Romola Garai, Jonathan Pryce, and that eminent Shakespearean and hobbit, Ian Holm. As time went on, though, I realized that pretty much every really interesting film shown at TIFF would come to my favorite movie theater, the Bloor Cinema (now closed for renovation, alas), and grew out of touch with the festival. It’s looking more and more as if that was the right decision.
Alas, I can’t tell you exactly when Anonymous makes its world premiere at TIFF. The festival will not release its actual screening schedule until late August, and the movie’s World Release Dates webpage seems to have forgotten that Canada is part of North America. Yes, we are shy and retiring as countries go, but we’re also pretty hard to miss on the map. Hint to Sony International Pictures: not the best way to win over an audience. Never fear, though! If any gala Anonymous happenings at TIFF get reported in the local press, your Faithful Correspondent will be here to report on them.