Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Soul of the Age

I recently read an announcement of a possible film on the life of the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. Why is this of interest? Well, de Vere is today's most popular candidate for the role of the "real" Shakespeare - the nobleman who wrote the plays attributed to the man from Stratford. And the proposed movie, The Soul of the Age, dramatizes this theory by showing de Vere as the behind-the-scenes mastermind of the Bard's masterpieces.

As I discussed in an earlier post, there are pluses and minuses to the "anti-Stratfordian" position - the contention that someone other than Will Shakespeare wrote the works. I am an agnostic on the subject, leaning slightly toward the heretics but by no means committed. One thing I am sure of, however, is that de Vere's life offers plenty of material for an exciting drama. And there are enough parallels between his biography and the life of Hamlet (among other Shakespearean characters) to make the film version intriguing, at the very least.

Of course, all this may be premature. The film's would-be director, Roland Emmerich, has not secured funding yet. And he seems to have two or three other irons on the fire, including a movie about King Tut. Whether or not The Soul of the Age actually makes it to the screen remains to be determined. The script was written in 1998 and shelved when Shakespeare in Love went into production. Will it have better luck this time?

I hope so. Valid or invalid, the Oxfordian theory is so clever and so intriguing that it deserves to reach a wider audience.


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