Review by Geoff Jenke
The year is 1613, Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his renowned Globe Theatre burns to the ground, and devastated, Shakespeare returns to Stratford-upon-Avon, where he must face a troubled past and a neglected family.
Haunted by the death of his only son Hamnet, he struggles to mend the broken relationships with his wife and daughters. In so doing, he is ruthlessly forced to examine his own failings as husband and father. His very personal search for the truth uncovers secrets and lies within a family at war.
Considering how little we know about William Shakespeare, director Kenneth Branagh has put together a fine film about Will’s retired life. Kenneth also naturally takes the role of Shakespeare and is more than competently helped out with Judi Dench as his wife, Anne Hathaway and Ian McKellan as the Earl of Southampton. Age wise, some of these characters don’t actually fit as Anne Hathaway was only 66 when she passed away (Judi Dench is in her 80’s) and the Earl of Southampton was in his 40’s when William retired (Ian McKellan is in his late 70’s). However, these minor issue’s do not detract from what a fine movie this is.
The film shows William as a man haunted by the death of his 11-year-old son, many years ago. When the Globe Theatre burnt down and William returned to his home in Stratford-upon-Avon, he never wrote another play. The Shakespeare family is full of scandal, from William being the son of a thief to his daughter having an affair and the other daughter marrying a man who had made another girl pregnant. And the truth behind Will’s son’s death had been kept from him.
The film is beautifully shot and the costumes are wonderful. The cast, as you would expect, give their all to the story. As an ode to the Bard, it works, telling the story of the famous playwright’s retirement, a story few would know.
All Is Truewas the original name of William Shakespeare’s play, Henry VIII. It was this play that destroyed the Globe Theatre, burning to the ground when a prop cannon mis-fired.
While a lot of the events in the movie may or may not have happened, it is none the less a great tale and well worth the 100 minutes of your life to see. You may even appreciate William Shakespeare in a new light after.