The interwebs have been all atwitter over the explosion of unconfirmed rumors that Independence Day sequels are in the works (ID5 and ID6? ID4-B and ID4-C? Maybe ID4er and ID4est?), but the most important news is the tiny detail tossed in as an aside by most of the blogs: the fact that Roland Emmerich can’t start work right away because his next project is a period piece about Shakespeare.
The film (Anonymous) is only in pre-production at the moment but Emmerich is slated to direct and there’s a script by John Orloff (who wrote A Mighty Heart and a couple episodes of Band of Brothers). The plot description is as unmoving as it is terse:
A political thriller about who actually wrote the plays of William Shakespeare— Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford— set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I, and the Essex Rebellion against her.
Well shit guys, don’t strain yourselves trying too hard at getting us to care. The story is actually a fairly interesting one if you haven’t heard it before and are the sort to wallow away hours at work hitting “random page” on wikipedia. It turns out there’s an entire school of thought in literature espousing the “Oxfordian theory,” which is a fancy way for saying that this Earl of Oxford may secretly have been Shakespeare and used the plays as an outlet. It’s a compelling idea, that one of the most famous men in history simply didn’t exist as more than a house of cards. Plus it makes Shakespeare kind of like Batman.
Emmerich and Shakespeare though, that’s its own punchline right there.