In my film class, we're actually talking a lot about this. What follows is my opinion:
When can a period film be treated as a historical document? The short answer is never. A film can be well-researched, completely realistic to its period, devoid of anachronisms, etc. but it will never be an authentic representation of the time period it seeks to replicate. There's a huge difference between something realistic and well-researched and something that's authentic.
To expect that a film that's set against the backdrop of a historical period, or one that's a telling of something that happened in history, to completely conform to history is a ridiculous and unfair expectation of the people who make the movie.
I think it's especially important to remember that a period movie is just as much a reflection of the time that it was made as it is a reflection of the time it is depicting. This doesn't necessarily make what is depicted in the film historically inaccurate; those moments people may perceive as distortion of history could be a very accurate depiction of the sentiments that were strong at the time of the film's creation.
I also think it's important to remember that anything on screen that's not a documentary or a newsreel should be classified as fiction. Someone wrote that story; no matter how much it is inspired by history, in the end it is still fiction.
People in Shakespeare's day knew his Histories were played fast and loose in terms of accuracy, but frankly they knew enough about their history that they could differentiate between entertainment and fact.
That people of today get bent out of shape on account of a few historical aberrations in the latest summer blockbuster is depressing, and wastes brainpower that should be spent on figuring out how to make sure children's history lessons aren't completely taught by Hollywood.
Now, as for Anonymous
I am of the opinion
that if it was Shakespeare's name on the plays, then it was Shakespeare who wrote them. I think that he certainly seems the most likely person to have written them out of all the suspects, because everyone else would have been too busy (as in the case of Francis Bacon and Elizabeth I) or too dead for the latter half of his canon (as in the case of Edward de Vere, Marlowe, Elizabeth I, etc. etc.). Boring, I know.
However, I can acknowledge that there is a great deal we don't know about Shakespeare. That's not to say that we know a great deal more about his contemporaries, such as Marlowe and Jonson, but I've never heard of an Anti-Marlovian, or the Jonson Authorship Debates.
However, the highly educated high-class scholars who debate the authorship of Shakespeare's plays don't seem to consider Massacre at Paris
or Bartholomew Fair
plays worth fighting for, though Marlowe and Jonson both went to universities of high tenure, like these Anti-Stratfordian scholars...
Could it be that there simply is an inability to accept that the glover's son from Avon who had only a grammar school education (I say 'only' most cynically; the school Shakespeare probably attended was one of the best educational institutions in Europe, bar none), could have written plays of such voluminous wordage, of such eloquent concept and outstanding characterization, while the university-learned playwrights churned out the Renaissance equivalent of PG 13 horror films?
-underlying sarcasm begins-Is there elitism afoot in these academic circles?
-underlying sarcasm over-
That said, Vanessa Redgrave as Elizabeth I. All criticism of Anonymous
should be set aside until the world understands the magnitude of such an occurrence.