Truer than Truth: Shakespeare

DATELINE: Who is the Bard?

Shake-Vere?

Once again, a list of notable Shakespearean actors (Derek Jacobi among them) takes on the question of whether William Shakespeare was the man he claimed to be.

The film is called Nothing is Truer than Truth.

One theory continues to be pushed: Shakespeare was a pseudonym for Edward de Vere, a foppish bisexual Elizabethan favorite.

How could a country bumpkin who never left England write 40 plays about royal courts in Venice, Rome, and Greece? How could a man who did not have access to the greatest libraries of English nobility have done his research? As usual, the likelihood of genius never enters the equation. Even a genius needs a little knowledge (unless he is psychic).

One man fits the bill Shake-speare quite well. Edward de Vere.

With the use of mostly American experts, the documentary takes on a decidedly different tone than most of the British interpretations of the Shakespeare controversy.

Indeed, this approach takes De Vere on his travels to Venice, Palermo, Cyprus, and Milan, all spots with highly personal character references in the Shakespeare plays. De Vere met with Cervantes and Titian, and details about these men were not in libraries or generally known in England: but they appear in Shakespeare’s wortks.

So, the ultimate connection is whether Shakespeare and De Vere knew each other—had a literary and personal relationship that might account for the authorship being joint.

So many incidents are based on problems in De Vere’s life: from an unfaithful wife—to his odd bisexual hints in characters. His travels gave him insights into poison poured into a king’s ear and a noble with a younger male whispering in his ear.

De Vere had the attention of Queen Elizabeth (whom some hint) was a man in drag. He had married badly into the Lord Cecil family, but it didn’t stop him from burning through the equivalent of a million dollars in a year.

This excellent film ends asking us whether we have praised the wrong man for 400 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alas, Poor Yorick and Poor Shakespeare

DATELINE:  Heads, You Lose!

cursed

Shakespeare’s Tomb is a marvelous documentary that deals with the case of the headless Bard of Avon.

Back in the 18th and 19th century, they were graverobbers who wanted the heads of famous people and in Yorick fashion, they took the skulls from older graves. Phrenologists were also collectors who were interested in having a genius skull in their study. You could so easily read the bumps in the cranium.

You may be surprised to learn that Shakespeare put a curse on his own grave, which is located in the holy Trinity Church in Avon—not the more protected Westminster Abbey.

You may also be surprised to learn that Shakespeare put a curse on his own grave, which is located in the holy Trinity Church in Avon, as if he had an inkling that someone would want his head on a silver tray.

One of the most fascinating documentaries in a long time takes the opportunity of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death to examine his strange burial—and possible vandalism of his resting place in the late 1790s.

It may well be they took the graverobbers took a wrong turn, and grasped the head of Ann Hathaway, in a shroud only three feet deep, next to Shakespeare.

For unknown reasons, this purloined skull was dumped at another church where it has rested without a body in a charnel spot.

Forensic experts studied the discovery and concluded that it belonged to a woman. The documentary makes little of that wrong head, but she was the right age to be Shakespeare’s late wife who is buried next to him next to him in a shallow grave.

Apparently, Holy Trinity Church tried to cover up the problem by putting a new stone over Shakespeare’s dug  up grave and not telling anyone. Ground penetrating radar allows the film crew to examine Shakespeare’s grave without opening it.

Good detective work and charming hosts of the show make this little hour-long documentary is brilliant and worthy of your attention.