Behind the Name SHAKESPEARE: Power, Lust, Scorn & Scandal documentary review

★★★★ Directed by: Robin Phillips Written by: Christina Di Marlo (aka Robin Phillips) Starring: Robin Phillips Film Review by: Jason Knight


Poster for Behind the Name SHAKESPEARE: Power, Lust, Scorn & Scandal

William Shakespeare was an English playwright, poet and actor and is generally considered the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. His plays have been translated into every major modern language and till this day are continued to be studied and performed more often than those of any other playwright. However, was Shakespeare really the creator of these famous plays, or was it someone else? Influenced by Roland Emmerich's 2011 film Anonymous, which explores the idea that Edward De Verne, the 17th Earl of Oxford, a playwright and poet himself, is the one who wrote the plays, Phillips decided to make a documentary that focuses on that theory. One thing that stands out is Phillips herself. She is also the presenter and narrator and she wears 16th century royal dresses, as she addresses the audience. She is dressed in numerous outfits throughout, all of which look outstanding, and apparently does so in order to in a way bring the viewer back to the time of Shakespeare. And it does work! Costumes aside, Phillips does a great job in attracting the viewer's attention. She comes across as very likeable and knowledgeable, and speaks with passion and enthusiasm, also using humour. The film also utilizes another technique to bring people into the world of Shakespeare: the music! Whoever watches this documentary will also have the pleasure of constantly listening to music from that era. Making the decision to use this kind of music definitely adds great qualities. The documentary provides a great deal of information about its topic. Phillips' entertaining voice-over accompanies the audience through many shots of wonderful paintings and drawings that depict relevant historical individuals, and shots of old documents and manuscripts. In addition to this there are also sequences where quotes of experts are shown on screen, along with an image of them. The film has been put together through methodical editing, primarily making use of the dissolve technique. Overall, the film is fun to watch. As mentioned, Phillips uses humour and does so to great effect. She explains the facts in such a manner, one would think that she is talking to children. At certain parts her face appears at part of the screen as she rings a bell, in order to signify that an important fact has just been pointed out. This method is kind of childish, but nevertheless amusing and clever. Plus, when Phillips quotes lines, they also appear in letters, making sure that everyone understands what she just said! This entertaining, thought-provoking film had a great deal of research and hard work put into it and is likely to attract attention due to the question it poses.

#JasonKnight