31 October 2011 | PWNYCNY
Was Shakespeare a front?
Was William Shakespeare a front for an aristocrat who did not want his name revealed as the author? This movie is about political intrigue and how theater gets caught up in a larger struggle for power. The movie offers an interesting and controversial portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I and a glimpse of life in England at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The printing press was becoming a political weapon and those who published could influence the public, maybe to the point of rebellion. Hence, the need of the government to control what was being performed on stage. The stage served the same function of television does today. It was the medium of mass entertainment, which made the playwright a critical player in the politics of the time. Now, if Shakespeare was a front, then the question is: who wrote all these plays? Maybe it doesn't matter who actually wrote the plays but then again, maybe it does matter because by knowing the author, this may lead to new interpretations of the plays. Maybe these plays were political polemics produced under the guise of historical drama. Whatever the case, one thing is for certain: these plays made an impact on society that continues to reverberate to this day.
One other point. This movie is a work of fiction and so if it is loose with certain historical facts, so what? This movie is not a documentary. Rather, it is a fictional historical drama that revolves around a controversial and even shocking plot. Whether Shakespeare is the actual author of the works attributed to him is not the point. That is a matter for debate. What is the point is whether the movie works as a movie. The story is complex, yet the movie manages to engage the audience through strong acting and by presenting a story crammed with political intrigue. Who can say for certain what was going on in England 500 years ago? It is all a matter for speculation, based upon the available historical material, all of which is subject to interpretation. The idea of English writers bickering and fighting over the authorship of plays may seem trite and far fetched, but the conflict makes for good drama, even if it is pure fiction.