King Henry II of England (Peter O'Toole) comes to terms with his affection for his close friend and confidant Thomas Becket (Richard Burton), who finds his true honor by observing God's divine will rather than the King's.
A member of the House of Lords dies, leaving his estate to his son. Unfortunately, his son thinks he is Jesus Christ. The other, somewhat more respectable, members of their family plot to steal the estate from him. Murder and mayhem ensue.
This is a delightful, if peculiar, story of a day in the life of a small, Welsh fishing village called "Llareggub" (read it backwards). We meet a host of curious characters (and ghosts) ... See full summary »
Debauched King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) installs his longtime court facilitator Thomas Becket (Richard Burton) as the Archbishop of Canterbury, assuming that his old friend will be a compliant and loyal lackey in the King's on-going battles with the church. But Becket unexpectedly finds his true calling on the ecclesiastical side, and aligns himself against the King's selfish wishes, causing a rift and an eventual showdown not only between the two men, but also the institutions they represent.Written by
Contrary to one of the film's central plot lines, Thomas Becket was a Norman (Thomas Bequet), not a Saxon. Jean Anouilh admitted he discovered this after having finished his play, having based it on the outdated 1825 work "The History of the Conquest of England by the Normans", by Augustin Thierry; but he decided that it made a better story the way he had written it. See more »
King Henry II:
Well, Thomas Becket. Are you satisfied? Here I am, stripped, kneeling at your tomb, while those treacherous Saxon monks of yours are getting ready to thrash me. Me - with my delicate skin. I bet you'd never have done the same for me. But - I suppose I have to do this penance and make my peace with you. Hmm. What a strange end to our story. How cold it was when we last met - on the shores of France. Funny, it's nearly always been cold - except at the beginning, when we were friends....
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Detailed studio about the tumultuous relationship between Henry II Plantagenet and Archbishop of Canterbury , Becket
¨In the year 1066 William of Conqueror crossed from France with his Norman army and conquered the Saxons of Britain at the battle of Hastings , Henry II his great grandson continued to rule over the oppressed Saxons peasants . Backed by the swords of his Barons and by the power of his imported Norman clergy¨ . This historic picture is based on real events , a studio detail about Becket (1117-1170) who was chancellor of Henry II Plantagenet but then he opposed to sign the rules of Clarendon (1164) that established superiority of king over clergy , he was then banished France and when he returned succeeded the tragedy . Henry II (1133-1189) dominated nobles and clergy , he married Eleanor of Aquitaine that caused the confrontation with Louis VII (an eye-catching playing by the veteran John Gielgud) of France . Becket (flawless acting by Richard Burton) is named Archbishop of Canterbury and his religious mission is strictly taken with opposition to Henry II (a first-rate performance by Peter O'Toole and similar king role to 'Lion in Winter') of Plantagenet who governed England from 1154 to 1189 ; this leads to notorious and sparkling phrase by the king: 'Who will rid me of this turbulent archbishop' .
This is a splendid rendition of Jean Anouilh's play , as translated by Lucienne Hill , produced upon the New York stage by Merrick and good detailed artistic direction made at Shepperton studios -England- . It deals about the stormy friendship between Becket , appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury , and king Henry II . Although the film depicts Becket as a Saxon , he was actually a Norman like King Henry II . The closeness between King Henry and Becket is depicted as being a purely platonic one ; homosexuality was still illegal in the UK when the film was made in 1963, and any suggestion of that would have fallen foul of the censor . However it is still implied that Henry is in love with Becket . Magnificent studded-secondary-star cast , as Donald Wolfit as bishop , Paolo Stoppa as Pope Alexander III , Gino Cervi as the flamboyant Cardinal , Pamela Brown as Queen Eleanor , Martita Hunt as Queen Mother , Percy Herbert and Neal McGinnis as the Barons ; plus , Sean Phillips married to Peter O'Toole . Atmospheric , appropriate cinematography by the great Geoffrey Unsworth . Evocative musical score with religious chores by Laurence Rosenthal and usual musical conductor by Muir Mathieson . The picture obtained Academy Award , 1964 , to adapted screenplay and Golden Globes to dramatic actor for Peter O'Toole and the best film drama . The flick was stunningly directed by Peter Grenville who reflects correctly an exciting slice of history . Rating : Better than average . This is a superior and powerful historic drama to be liked by historical cinema buffs .
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