Friday, October 21, 2011

Homebaked Shakespeare

No copies of Shakespeare's original drafts have ever been found. We only have marked up promptbooks and printed versions of his plays, and in some cases, a number of variations of them.

After going through director Roland Emmerich's trash, however, Caroline and I are thrilled to announce that we have located Emmerich's screenplay treatment for the film that would eventually become Anonymous. Shall we take a look?


by Roland Emmerich

By 1600, Shakespeare had proven himself a prolific writer whose talents generated what are arguably the most influential literature of all time. But if you think this "Shakespeare" is Will, you're completely wrong. This Shakespeare, the real Shakespeare, is Will's twin brother, Phil, the half-human prodigy whom Mary and John Shakespeare kept locked up in the cellar of their Henley St. home in Stratford. In flashbacks, we see the following: While pregnant, Mary spent too much time staring at the farm animals, and as a result, one of her boys was born with the head of a donkey. Phil's family will do anything to prevent their secret shame from being known to the world.

Meanwhile, Will shoves parchment, quill, and ink at Phil and forces him to write his school essays. But with the spare parchment that Phil stores away behind a sack of leather scraps, he creates a spectacular world of his own.

Alas, it is a world that Phil cannot inhabit. Phil's conniving twin discovers the plays, and agrees to pass them on to local acting companies, but only under the condition that Phil keeps producing these theatrical hits. Will wants to be famous, and, dammit, his brother is going to make that happen. He figures that's the least he deserves after having to put up with this lame family situation.

What stupid Will doesn't realize, however, is that Phil is quietly protesting his mistreatment. First, he represents Bottom in Midsummer Night's Dream. As we see, Phil starts to become bolder in his assertions of the rights of half-humans in his plays. In disguise, he auditions for the part of The Bear in The Winter's Tale, and actually gets the part! When he chases Antigonus off the stage, he considers actually eating him. The desire for vengeance almost gets the better of him! But then, Phil decides to make his bravest decision yet.

Phil (who is, unbeknownst to his fellow actors, NOT in disguise), plays the part of Caliban. His sympathetic performance is the talk of the town. Even Queen Elizabeth goes to see the show and is visibly moved at Phil's portrayal of the abused native. On the evening of the final performance, when Phil knows that his mother and father will be in the audience, he looks directly at them throughout the show, tears in his eyes. Will they ignore him? Will they change their attitude and embrace their half-human son? At the climactic moment, as Phil is taking his bow to the roar of a standing ovation, John Shakespeare points to his son and bellows "This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine!" At that moment Caliban/Phil breaks the "fourth wall" and runs over to his father. They embrace. Will is seen begging his ladyfriends to stay with him, but they run over to Phil instead.

Queen Elizabeth, too, has taken a fancy to Phil, and in the final scenes they are making love. Just like Bottom and Queen Titania.

Wow. I guess that movie could have been worse.

No comments:

Post a Comment