A literary thriller making the case that Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), was actually the person who wrote Shakespeare's plays. The story takes place during the tumultuous political backdrop of the Essex Rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I (Vanessa Redgrave). Also with Sebastian Armesto, Rafe Spall, David Thewlis and Joely Richardson. Directed by Roland Emmerich. [2:10]
SEX/NUDITY 7 - A man interrupts another man and a woman that are having sex: we see the man's bare buttocks thrusting on top of the woman, he rolls off and it is implied that the man who interrupted them sees the man's genitals (we do not) and the woman appears fully clothed; she leaves after being paid for her sexual services.
► A young man and young woman kiss passionately, we see them pulling at one another's clothing and we see them later lying side by side and the man's chest is bare (sex is implied). A woman refers to a young man "bedding her" and we see the young man approach her (his bare chest and back are visible), she touches the young man's chest and it is implied that she performs oral sex on him when we see her head disappear around his crotch; the woman lifts her head moments later and the two kiss passionately as the man climbs on top of her (sex is implied).
► A man and a woman are briefly seen lying side by side in bed. A man grabs another man's hand for comfort; the man pulls his hand away. A man goes to hug a man and the other man shouts and shoves him away. A man playfully grabs the clothed buttocks of a woman. A man playfully shakes his behind while on stage.
► A man tells another man that a woman had given birth to multiple children out of wedlock, he then explains how the man is one of the woman's children, and that he had sex with her and she conceived a child during their incestual relationship; the other man looks shocked and disgusted and tells him that the woman would not have engaged in incest. A man makes a crude remark about being able to "bed" many women. A man flirts with a woman, who clutches her chest and looks at the man longingly, while he stares at the woman's cleavage. A man tells a young man that he is "not the first or last" of a woman's lovers. A young man tells a woman that he likes women from a different country. A man reads aloud a vaguely sexual poem. A man says that plays are "born from a cesspool" and uses crude language to describe playwrights.
► We see a young man storm into a woman's dressing room, and we see the woman standing before a mirror, clothed in her undergarments (long pantaloons and corset top; no nudity is visible). We see the partially obscured bare chest of a boy wearing a costume. A woman unbuttons her corset for comfort; no nudity is visible.
VIOLENCE/GORE 6 - Several men on horseback enter a courtyard, many guards open fire on them, the men shout, some men and horses hit the ground and some men and guards fight with swords; we see dead, bloody bodies lying on the ground, a man is seen partially trapped under a dead horse and a woman watches in horror as a young man is surrounded, drops his sword and is arrested and dragged away with his hands tied.
► A man watches as guards walk through a courtyard littered with dead and dying bodies, guards shoot the dying men on the ground and blood is seen on two of the men as they moan in pain before being shot point-blank.
► A teen boy stabs a man through a curtain; we see the man lurch from behind the curtain, blood is visible on his chest and hands and the sword sticks out of his chest.
► A man attempts to shoot another man, and the man leaps up and shoots the gunman before the gunman's shot is fired; the gunman falls to the ground, we see a small pool of blood form on the man's chest and it is presumed that the man is dead.
► A man lifts up the dead body of another man, and we see the man's throat had been slit and dried blood is seen on his neck and coming from his nose.
► While two men practice fencing, one of the men becomes violent, forcefully stabbing and slicing at the other man: he slices the man's leg (a bloody cut on his upper thigh is visible and he collapses to the ground in pain) and is about to kill him when the injured man stabs him in the chest killing him (we see blood on the man's chest and on the sword).
► A man violently slaps another man tied to a chair; we see the man slap the man two more times, and the last time the man's head snaps back and blood, and what appears to be a tooth, drool out of his mouth.
► Soldiers open fire on men and women as they rush across a bridge: we see people struck by bullets, the force causing them to spin and hit the ground, a man is shot in the chest as he tries to speak, and a small spray of blood comes from the wound as his body hits the ground; we see multiple dead bodies piled on the bridge.
► Men surround a young man being lead to the gallows; the young man kneels down, places his head on a rock, looks at the executioner and tells him to kill him quickly (we hear a slicing sound and thud, but do not see the actual beheading).
► Armed guards chase a man into a theater and set the curtains of the theater on fire; smoke and fire fills the room where the man is hiding, he comes out of hiding with his sword drawn and coughing, and seven guards with their swords drawn surround the man, who drops his sword (we see him being dragged out of the burning building).
► A man lunges at another man, holding him at swordpoint; the man grabs the other man by the throat and throws him to the ground. Guards charge into a room where a man and a woman are sleeping, and they grab the man and drag him from the room as the woman cries and shouts (we later see the man in a prison).
► An elderly man gasps for breath, mentions that he is "gravely ill" and we later see his funeral (he is displayed in an open casket). A man tells another man that an older woman's doctors had informed him that she is dying (we later see a funeral procession for the woman; her corpse is not visible). We see a man pull a sheet over the face of a dead man as his daughter and a woman watch tearfully.
► An audience pelts a man on stage with vegetables and fruit, and they then hiss and shout at the man to get off the stage. An unconscious man tied in a chair has a bucket of water thrown on him and he awakens groggily as another man interrogates him. A man shoves another man. A group of guards drag a man off a stage, and we see the man shouting and later imprisoned. A man grabs another man's arm and the man yanks his arm away. An older woman slaps away a woman's hand.
► A man shouts at his elderly father, saying that his father had been portrayed as "the laughing stock," after we see a crowd of people laugh at the portrayal of the elderly man. On multiple occasions an older man shouts at his adult son. A boy shouts at a teen boy. A teen boy shouts at a man. A man shouts at another man. A woman shouts at a young man. A woman screams at an elderly man. A young man shouts at an older man. A woman shouts at a man. A man shouts at another man and threatens to slit his own throat. A man shouts that another man had failed to kill him, and will now kill the man to maintain his honor and name. A woman shouts angrily at a man and she shoves papers off his desk.
► An elderly man instructs his adult son to have a man killed by the man's fencing instructor and make the death appear to be an accident. A man tells another man that a young man (the man's illegitimate son) will be executed for treason, along with another young man who had also attempted to commit treason. A man tells a woman that a young man was attempting to kill her and take over her royal crown; the woman acts horrified. A woman tells another man that a man is going to be beheaded, and the woman then clarifies that the man was ordered to be beheaded by his mother (the woman is unaware that the young man is her son). A woman tells a man that his head should be cut off, not the head of a young man. An older man tells another man that the foster parents of his illegitimate son had died. A man tells another man not to "look at him like he gutted his pet dog." A man tells a woman that he would "go mad" if he did not write and the woman asks if the man is possessed. Two men discuss how a possible civil war is hinged on the queen announcing a successor. A man chastises a teen boy for killing a man as the teen boy defends himself saying the man had been stealing. A man tells another man that he had seen a man portrayed in a play as killing half of his family in order to gain a royal title. A man tells three other men that manuscripts had been burned when the men set a theater on fire.
► We see a bear and a dog pitted against one another in a fight: they both growl and we see their shadowed silhouettes as they lunge towards one another while men shout bets on which animal will die.
► As a teen boy and an older man practice fencing, and the older man knocks the foil from the boy's hands and it hits a chess set. A man playfully hits another man with his hat.
► A man spits on the ground; we see the spittle flying out of his mouth. A man examines a rat floating in a jar of embalming fluid on another man's desk.
► During various plays we see the following: A man is stabbed in the back while on stage and we see fake blood pour from his chest and blood covers the man's costume; a man presses a knife to the stomach of a man dressed as a woman; an older man sprays fake blood from his mouth onto a crowd; men fall to the ground after engaging in a swordfight; we see explosions as people fire arrows at a stage, people shout and we see men engaged in a swordfight on stage; a man wearing an animal mask stumbles and falls (he is unharmed); a man grabs a sword and shouts, "Death to the French!"; a group of men dressed as witches shriek and throw small explosives into a cauldron; and during a soliloquy, a man conjectures if he should kill himself.
PROFANITY 4 - 2 sexual references, 2 anatomical terms (the term "a**" is used as a term for donkeys, but in a cursing nature), 8 mild obscenities, name-calling (fool, idiot, amateur, reptilian of court, oaf, laughing stock, lying naïve, mad, lamely and unfashionable, liar, scallywag, wanton ambling nymph, villain, failure, traitor, fraud, counterfeiter of wit, charlatan, hunchback), exclamations (bloody, bullocks), 9 religious exclamations. [profanity glossary]
SUBSTANCE USE - Throughout the movie we see men and women drinking beer and wine, including a man drinking from a stein and acting intoxicated, men frequently drink and a man announces to a crowd that he is buying a round of drinks for everyone, a man chides another man for drinking during his play's performance, and a man appears visibly intoxicated.
DISCUSSION TOPICS - William Shakespeare, Ben Johnson, sonnets and plays, Queen Elizabeth, Elizabethan England, Mary Queen of Scots, Tudors, illegitimate children, seditious, The Catholic rebellion in England, muses, incest, James of Scotland, poet laureates, deception, royalty, intrigue.
MESSAGE - Perhaps we should take a closer look at history that we take for granted.