Starring: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson
The German director Roland Emmerich's grand exercise in Elizabethan kitsch makes a very flimsy case that Shakespeare's plays were, in fact, written by Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford.
The script also suggests that Elizabeth 1 was a near nymphomaniac with incestuous leanings and that the court was full of her bastard children. Imagine Blackadder made on an epic scale but strained of most of the humour, and you'll come close to its essence. The film is inordinately long. The horribly self-conscious Vermeer-like lighting effects and heavy-handed use of CGI have a deadening effect. The largely British cast (Rhys Ifans as the winsome De Vere, David Thewlis as the cunning William Cecil, Edward Hogg as his hunchback son, Rafe Spall as a yokel Shakespeare and a very sprightly Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Bess in her declining years) strive gamely to salvage a film that takes itself far too seriously.
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