Was William Shakespeare a fraud? The debate continues.

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Did he or didn’t he? That is the question. The debate over whether William Shakespeare could write his own name, let alone the body of works considered among the greatest in English literature, has consumed minds for more than 150 years.

Now a new film, Anonymous, by Independence Day director Roland Emmerich, is about to throw more fuel on the fire.

Anonymous, released on October 28, is set in the political snake-pit of Elizabethan England. It asserts that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, was the true author of the Bard’s plays. And Shakespeare, an actor, was a mere provincial frontman for the plays so Oxford’s authorship could remain secret.

The film includes a masterful performance from Rhys Ifans as the brooding genius Oxford, with the mother-and-daughter team of Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave playing the young and old Queen Elizabeth. Ifans might seem a more obvious choice for the comic role of the buffoonish, scheming Shakespeare, but that part is taken by Rafe Spall, son of Timothy.

Anonymous is no wordy but drab costume drama. Emmerich brings his epic style to bear on the exterior shots, swooping over Tudor London in all its teeming glory and culminating in Elizabeth’s funeral procession along a frozen Thames, an icy finality to the story....

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