Synopsis: Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, is presented as the real author of Shakespeare's works. Edward's life is followed through flashbacks from a young child, through to the end of his life. He is portrayed as a child prodigy who writes and performs A Midsummer Night's Dream for a young Elizabeth I. A series of events sees his plays being performed by a frontman, Shakespeare.
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Director(s): Roland Emmerich
Production: Sony Pictures
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 8 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
130 min

- Yeah, hold on a second.

- What were you saying?

- Taxi! Taxi!

- All right, what are you saying?

I'm asking why you thought

you didn't have to be on time.

Finally. God, come on.


Yeah. At last.

Good. Great.

Alex, cue three.

Sound, cue four and tabs, go.

Soul of the age

The applause, delight

The wonder of our stage

Our Shakespeare, rise!

Our Shakespeare.

For he is all of ours, is he not?

The most performed playwright

of all time.

The author of 37 plays,

a hundred and fifty-four sonnets,

and several narrative poems

that are collectively known

as the ultimate expressions

of humanity in the English language.

And yet...

And yet,

not a single manuscript

of any kind

has ever been found

written in Shakespeare's own hand.

In 400 years, not one document.

He was born the son

of a glove maker,

and at some unknown time, armed

but with a grammar-school


he went to London,

where, the story goes,

he became an actor,

and, eventually, a playwright.

He died at the age of 52.

And he was survived by

his wife and two daughters,

who, like Shakespeare's own father,

were irrefutably illiterate.

His will famously left his

second-best bed to his widow.

But it made no mention

of a single book

or manuscript.

Our Shakespeare

is a cipher. A ghost.

So let me offer you

a different story.

A darker story,

of quills and swords.

Of power and betrayal.

Of a stage conquered

and a throne lost.

After him!

There he is!

Get him!

Over there!


- Break it down!

- Go, lads!

Put your back into it!

Search the place!


- Jonson!

- That way!

I know you're in here!

Jonson, show yourself!

Come out!

Out with you, Jonson!

I'll smoke you out like a rat!

- Torch it!

- Give it up!

Torch it!

Burn everything!

Do you smell that, Jonson?

That's the smell of your theater

going up in flames!

Arrest him!

Shall we to the Tower?

Make way!

This is none of your concern!

Chain him here, then leave us.

He was carrying nothing

but a quill and some empty pages.

You are Benjamin Jonson,


Son of William Jonson,



And have you ever

been arrested before, Mr. Jonson?

I'm a writer, aren't I? Of course

I've bloody well been arrested.

Ask him about the plays.


Oh, which would you prefer,

Sir Robert Cecil? A pastoral?

An historical? An historical pastoral?

An hysterical historical pastoral?

We are not interested

in your plays, Mr. Jonson.

We're interested in the plays

given to you by Edward de Vere,

Earl of Oxford.

Um... I am sorry, sir.

I am not sure I know

whereof you speak.

Where are the plays?

What plays?

Wonderful, isn't it?

Well, it's certainly big.

I promise you, Edward,

you've seen nothing like it!

Mm. There won't be puppets,

will there?

Step aside, step aside!

Make way for my Lords of Oxford and Southampton!

And here come the fool

and the jester again, methinks.

The stagecraft is

quite spectacular.

Far more elaborate than

anything I've seen at court.


what a damn'd witty rogue's this!

How he confounds with his similes!

Better with similes than smiles.

And whither were you riding now,


Whither should I ride

but to the court?

Oh! Pardon me, sir.

Thou never

saw'st my gray hobby yet.

Have you such a one?




- Ale!

Marlowe, spot me a few pence,

will you?

Henslowe owes me

for Shoemaker's Holiday.

That's because no one saw

Shoemaker's Holiday.


Kit, isn't that one of your

unrequited loves in the box?

The Earl of Southampton?

But with whom?

By the beard, that's Edward

de Vere, the Earl of Oxford.

Had his own acting troupe

for private court performances.

I wonder if he needs any material.

Certainly not yours.

What, the noble, there? Ha-ha.

Why, he's a gull! He's a fool! Aah!

The poor man's

brain is lighter than his feather!



Jonson, wonderful dialogue.

It's absolutely wonderful.


Oh. Ow!

Sorry, sire.


Will Shakespeare.

That is not ale in that goblet, is it?



Drink during a performance?

I am a professional, Mr. Henslowe.

- Make way!

- Utter professional.

Stand aside!

- You stand aside!

- Watch yourself!

This play has been

declared seditious

by Lord William Cecil!

Why don't you disperse

William Cecil's arse?

Arrest that man!


This play is seditious

and will not continue!


It's a comedy!

There's nothing seditious about it!

Is that right?

And you know this because...?

Because I wrote

the bloody thing.

Arrest this man as well!

What? No, wait...

Please! I'm a poet, for God's sake!

I'm not a criminal!

Thus endeth the brief career

of one Ben Jonson.


William Cecil, you're an arsehole!

Well, off to Essex House, then.

I'd like to see his arse dispersed!


Out. Henry, how many people

were at that play?

I'm not sure.

Two thousand? Maybe more.

How many performances

are there of a play like that?

Five or six, I suppose.

New service.

By the beard.

Ten thousand souls, all listening

to the writings, the ideas of one man.

That's power, Essex.

And if there's one thing the

Cecile understand, it's power.

New service!

And since when did words

ever win a kingdom?

I'll keep my sword,

thank you very much.


Henry, some of my men have

intercepted some of William Cecil's


with King James of Scotland.

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John Orloff

John Orloff is an American screenwriter known for creating and adapting complex stories in widely disparate genres. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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