This movie could also be called: "What if the most important things you needed to know you were not told until it was too late?".
I had thought from my knowledge of the Elizabethan era of Elizabeth the first and Shakespeare and Francis Bacon who was the father of the scientific method that this movie would be primarily about Francis Bacon writing the Shakespearean plays. And to some degree that was true. However, Vanessa Redgrave's performance of Elizabeth the first in her later years I found to be the real eye opener of this story. When Elizabeth I had illegitimate children by several of her lovers, she was not told where the babies were placed. Since the Earl of Essex and Francis Bacon were two of these and since Francis Bacon (Edward) doesn't know until the end that he is her son it makes for interesting watching as a movie goer.
One cannot help but feel the pain and pathos and suffering of all those involved. Though it could be said that Queen Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) was the first "truly liberated" woman of the western world, it also shows what it would be like to be "the only one liberated" and just how awful that could be as well. So, in order to make it all work and for her to stay queen you see her have power but not be told a whole lot of things she needed to know about and protected from both things she needed to be protected from as well as those she shouldn't have been protected from in order to make useful sense of her whole life. You see how both she and everyone around her had to manipulate the situation to stay alive in all situations. And you see people dying for reasons that seem pathetic at best. One feels an empathy for people in that era, especially because of the many freedoms that we have today that No One seemed to have then.
Of all the people in the movie Ben Johnson seems to have the best grasp on just how important Francis Bacon's writings(Shakespeare's) actually are both to that era and to the future of the whole human race. All others in this movie (including Francis Bacon "Edward") appear to be so distraught by everything happening in their lives that they can't see how very important these plays will be to the whole human race into the future.
I think the two things this movie was trying to accomplish was to show that Francis Bacon was:
1. One of the illegitimate children of Queen Elizabeth I of England and therefore the rightful Heir to the Throne as the eldest male.
2. Francis Bacon was the real author of the Shakespearean plays.
However, in only doing these two things it leaves many unanswered questions like:
1. If Francis Bacon was the father of the scientific method then he was not only a writer of plays but also likely the premier scientist of his times and this was not depicted in this movie.
2. And as one of the premier scientists of his time was he also an alchemist like many were then and did he both find and use the philosopher's stone to attain immortality and eventually become the Comte de Saint Germain in France during the late 1600s and 1700s and beyond?
However, even addressing the first two points is a whole lot to ask of any movie, writer, director, actors and especially of an audience that may or may not be students of history and know that confusion and uncertainty exists around all these things historically.
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