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ZDF Enterprises doc on enigma of Shakespeare’s identity to precede Roland Emmerich’s take on the same topic in “Anonymous”

Mainz, 14 September 2011.

The ZDF Enterprises documentary “The Shakespeare Enigma” is the first high-gloss program of its kind to examine a highly controversial topic: Who was William Shakespeare, and did he write the works we associate with his name? Produced by Atlantis Film for ZDF and ZDF Enterprises and directed by Eike Schmitz, “The Shakespeare Enigma” can be seen as a companion piece to Roland Emmerich’s highly anticipated Shakespeare film “Anonymous,” which will be released in U.S. theaters on 28 October 2011.

Among the most interesting candidates advanced by scholars as the “real” dramatist is Christopher Marlowe, a successful author and secret agent of Queen Elizabeth I. Shakespeare’s first plays weren’t performed until after Marlowe’s early death in 1593 at the age of 29 in a sordid pub brawl in Deptford, by the River Thames, East of London. Until now this has seemed to rule out Marlowe as a candidate for the writer of Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear. But in this new documentary, biography and history specialists Atlantis-Film explore a fascinating and revolutionary thesis: Christopher Marlowe faked his own death to avoid arrest and possible execution by Elizabeth I’s ministers. This freed him to devote his life to literature, using actor-manager William Shakespeare as his straw man – drawing on his own life’s experiences for at least some of his subject matter!

High-budget re-enactments and shooting on original locations sketch an image of the golden age of Elizabethan theater. And scholars from various fields weigh in on the question of Shakespeare’s secret


About ZDF Enterprises
Founded in 1993, ZDF Enterprises GmbH is the wholly-owned subsidiary and commercial arm of ZDF German Television Network, one of Europe's largest and most respected broadcasters. Headquartered in Mainz, Germany, ZDF Enterprises is responsible for the development, production and global distribution of quality original programming. The company is also responsible for all program acquisitions and international co-productions on behalf of the network, and acquires programming for world-wide distribution. Its vast program library ranks as the largest in the German language. The extensive catalogue includes television movies and mini-series, drama series and comedies, documentaries, family entertainment and children's programming. ZDF Enterprises also oversees all licensing and merchandising activities based on its high-profile programs, including book and music publishing and the licensing of its program properties in all key product categories. Committed to the future, ZDF Enterprises has embarked on numerous New Media initiatives, ranging from opportunities within the burgeoning e-commerce industry to the creation of themed edutainment dimensions featuring the recognized program brands with which ZDF has become synonymous.

Contact ZDF Enterprises
Christine Denilauler (Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications), Erich-Dombrowski-Str. 1, D-55127 Mainz/Germany, tel.: +49 6131-9911130, fax: +49 6131-9912130, e-mail:,


Christine Denilauler

Christine Denilauler

Vice President Marketing and Corporate Communications

+49 (0) 6131 / 991–1130
+49 (0) 6131 / 991–2130
ZDF Enterprises GmbH
Erich-Dombrowski-Str. 1
55127 Mainz | Germany