|Page 7 of 9:||       |
|Index||84 reviews in total|
This is a beautiful film with high artistic performances of O'Toole and
Richard Burton. The story, cinematography, picture, set design,
costumes,... all adds up to a believable and entertaining film.
Even though both actors are exceptional, Richard Burton is the brightest star here. Like O'Toole in 'Lawrence...' there is difficult to think of any other than Richard Burton playing the part. He portrays a dark and serious mind. O'Toole lightens the story with his flamboyant character (as usual). This difference in character load the film with a lot of tension.
The story is set in medieval Britain. Unlike many historical epics, the scenes look realistic and not polished. It doesn't have any show-off effects which makes many '60s epics (especially roman empire epics) look dated.
The main themes in the film is how difficult it is to save a friendship when political ambitions gets in the way, and power struggle between the church and crown. Most "modern" films don't miss the chance to criticize Christianity for it's mistakes. That is not the case here. The focus is on the relationship between king Richard II and Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The 150 mins was no challenge for me. The story is quite straight forward. The two actors carry the story in a magnificent way. Highly recommended.
There has always been a great reverence and respect for historical Englishmen in Hollywood. The actors' pictorial of Kings, emperors and men of Conscience has for decades been a source of inspiration for American audiences. It's opinionated, we do much homage to these courageous men of moral value, like Becket and Sir Thomas More, because Americans are much too practical to seek immortality on mere principal. Our heroes like Martin Luthor King and John Kennedy are men of American History, made so solely by their untimely death, less than their conflict of other men of the mind. In this historical movie, "Becket" based on the life of Sir Thomas Becket, is taken piecemeal and sewn together from his own life. The principal stars are Richard Burton as Thomas à Becket and Peter O'Toole as King Henry II. These two men are the best of friends to a fault. That is until the king in a fit of comic inspiration appoints his friend Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. The king sees it as a joke and means to have his way with the clergy, Becket takes his appointment seriously and becomes a challenge to the authority of the crown. John Gielgud as King Louis VII and David Weston as Brother John can be much hailed as they all lend this movie enough prestige to land on the doorsteps of Classic theater. ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*Spoiler/plot- Beckett, 1964. Tells a fictional story of the
relationship between an English king Henry II and his
Chancellor/archbishop, Thomas A'Beckett.
*Special Stars- Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole, John Gielgud.
*Theme- Honor can be a person's life.
*Trivia/location/goofs- British, Oscar winner. Peter O'Toole played the same character, Henry II, four years later in 1968's The Lion in Winter. He received Oscar nominations for both films. The English king's crown was made of cardboard. Thomas à Becket was a Norman (Thomas Bequet), not a Saxon.
*Emotion- A great character study of historic figures that still effect modern society today. Expertly acting and cast with enough drama and good writing to keep any viewer connected to the theme and story for hours.
*Based On- The legends of Thomas Beckett and Henry II.
BECKET is a film that seeks to explore the friendship and eventual
enmity that existed between Henry II and Thomas Becket, two of the most
famous characters in British history. Based on a play and filmed with
an exemplary cast, it's a fine example of the kind of serious,
old-fashioned, historical drama they don't make much of anymore.
The film is inevitably dominated by the presence of two acting heavyweights in the form of Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton. O'Toole is very good as the fey, fun-loving king, but Burton is even better as the religious man suffering a crisis of conscience.
The film is slow-moving and long-winded, but somehow it still works. The history is interesting, the scene-setting helps to add a real air of authenticity, and it's great seeing familiar faces (Gielgud, Phillips, Wolfit) fleshing out the cast.
Watch for the final encounter between king and subject on the beach. Possibly the most beautifully filmed moment of cinema I've seen - check out the sky and the sea, the costumes and the hollow faces of O'Toole and Burton. Cinema really doesn't get any better than this...
Becket got 12 Academy Award nominations, but received only 1: for
screenplay... Were the events too historic or the film too British? In
my opinion, at least Peter O'Toole could have won another Award. His
performance as King Henry II is really superb and solid, tightly
followed by Richard Burton's and John Gielgud's accomplishments (the
others are just good, nothing special). The King's inconsistency plus
eternal contradictions of love and hate, fear and courage, ecclesiastic
and secular, trust and betrayal are well in place and splendidly shown.
And the plot is based on real events and characters, although
historical accuracy is followed casually.
Last but not least: it is a color film, providing a good opportunity to enjoy this film by later generations as well. As far as I know, it is difficult for many to watch black-and-white films nowadays, with the exception of Charlie Chaplin, perhaps.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I recognised the name of the title and I knew he was someone significant in history, and seeing that there were some good stars in this British film I was willing to give it a chance and hope for the best. Basically King Henry II (Golden Globe winning, and Oscar and BAFTA nominated Peter O'Toole), who ruled England from 1154 to 1189, and religious saint Thomas Becket (Oscar and Golden Globe nominated Richard Burton), despite their differences in rank and background, were lifelong friends. The Norman is in constant conflict with the Church who refuse to help fund his war against land taken in France, and when the post is vacant he sees an opportunity to get his own way, by appointing his friend as Archbishop of Canterbury. Becket gladly takes to this post, but Henry did not count on him becoming stricter towards his religion and more devoted to the church he serves. This turns into a clash between the two personalities, and Becket and Henry end up less friendly towards each other, until the day when the Archbishop was murdered for the sake of the realm, and Henry later wanting people to praise his memory. Also starring Oscar nominated John Gielgud as King Louis VII of France, Donald Wolfit as Bishop Folliot, Martita Hunt as Empress Matilda, Pamela Brown as Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, Siân Phillips as Gwendolen, Paolo Stoppa as Pope Alexander III, David Weston as Brother John and Geoffrey Bayldon as Brother Philip. Burton gives a good charismatic and lightly touchy performance as the stern religious man, O'Toole stands out as the ruthless King who spends most of the film shouting his opinions about women and the situations, and in his time on screen Gielgud is good as well. I will confess it was a bit too political for my liking most of the time, but it does have a script with some witty and interesting dialogue, and the sweeping sequences in the countryside do well, the costumes are fine, it's a worthwhile historical drama. It won the Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, and it was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director for Peter Glenville, Best Film Editing, Best Music for Laurence Rosenthal, Best Sound and Best Picture, it won the BAFTAs for Best British Art Direction, Best British Cinematography and Best British Costume, and it was nominated for Best British Film, Best British Screenplay and Best Film from any Source, it won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama, and it was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Score. Good!
"Honor is a private matter within; it's an idea and every man has his
own vision of it" (Becket in the movie)
Among many historical epics which sometimes aimed at rousing awe of spectacle, sometimes at being vehicles for particular cast and offering them roles 'they were born to play,' Peter Glenville's BECKET stands on its own. Being adapted from Jean Anouilh's stage play by Edward Anhalt, this production occurs to be pretty modern in its artistry and very creative in its content. One could wonder what can make a 12th century story appealing to the 21st century perceptions; what can make an almost 50 year-old movie still fascinating for a modern viewer? What can...because BECKET is hardly associated as one of the top epics by many. And undeservedly so.
It is no pious biopic of a saint but a manifestation of life and its contradictions. But its crucial merit lies in the drama BECKET depicts. Friendship turns into hatred and easy-going youth filled with 'wenching days' into obsessive suspicions, conspiracies, and martyrdom. Yet, can anything wash the honor of God? Can it be justified, renewed or cleaned by a genuine conversion of heart? Everything is so simple, so nice, lovingly vivid and natural in the lives of both men until...one of them (the king) makes a significant decision; until...the church (the Roman Catholic Church at that time in England) and the state begin to represent the worlds and targets of the two men; until...duties are divided and honor turns into sheer 'improvisation.' Indeed, there comes a day when both will have to destroy illusions, like in barely any other period in HISTORY. And yet...
Steven D. Greydanus in his article on the movie does a challenging job by comparing two different yet similar chapters of the British history adapted to the screen: Richard Burton's Thomas Becket in this movie and Paul Scofield's Thomas More in Fred Zinnemann's A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS. He says that Becket's story plays "as a kind of rehearsal for the more momentous 16th century events." Although one can argue about the true similarities between the two films, there is no question that this church and state argument is a critical aspect in both stories. Henry II vs Becket leads, in a way, to Henry VIII vs More and Catholicism of Rome.
It is interesting to note that BECKET presents to us not solely Thomas as the leading character but Thomas and Henry II/Thomas with Henry II: two men are in the lead...for some time living in harmony, great affection...yet, soon representing two separate worlds. These torments that Thomas Becket faces are beautifully depicted in a memorable scene on the beach. The entire idea behind the whole drama is perfectly manifested. The king, as if, remains himself; yet, the question arises: 'is Thomas a converted man?' Except for the psychologically absorbing aspect of the story, the movie highly benefits from the masterful ARTISTIC MERITS.
These are, foremost, flawless PERFORMANCES that make BECKET an overwhelming drama.
RICHARD BURTON proves a tremendous impact on viewers who watch him, his presence on the screen is something of magnetism that the very best actors have been characterized by. He portrays his character with accurate development of seriousness gradually transforming his inner self. He beautifully handles the portrayal of two personalities, in fact: the Thomas as king's friend and chancellor and the Thomas as God's servant, an archbishop, a man of piety. The delicacy of his position makes him think differently, act differently, behave differently. His short reference to himself in the third person supplies us with a glimpse of his tormented mind, tormented due to the king's mistake. Among his best scenes, consider his earnest prayer and the sigh towards a higher existence.
An excellent 'leading man,' in a way, is PETER O'TOOLE as king Henry II. He is vital, unprincipled, straightforward, witty, raging and spontaneous, the kind of character O'Toole handled best. He is not brutish as Anthony Quinn was on the Broadway stage but, above all, gentle and sensitive. One of his most unforgettable scenes is the finale when 'die is cast'...what can you read from his face after the self punishment of whips he humbly submits to at the grave of a friend or a traitor...a villain or a saint...a 'supreme folly' whose 'idea' cannot die. Mr O'Toole's role here equals to the very best roles of his career. A marvelous actor!
Except for the two who indeed steal most of the screen presence, the SUPPORTING CAST add a certain degree of flavor to the whole background story: some greatest and most talented actors/actresses. Just to name John Gielgud as the king of France, Felix Aylmer as the archbishop of Canterbury, Martita Hunt as Queen Mother and Sian Phillips as Gwendolen, a Welsh woman whom we see in a memorable moment playing an ancient instrument and singing a mysterious song in Welsh. Music...yes, MUSIC...
...it is another significant element of the film's artistry beautifully composed by Laurence Rosenthal. His masterful combination of the Gregorian chant with some elements of the 20th century music makes a lasting effect and supplies the viewers more sensitive to music with an unforgettable experience. From the very credits to the finale, we are led to the atmosphere of the times and of the particular drama. The thrill of the musical experience reaches its climax at the impressive Latin chants in the cathedral. And the VISUAL AWE...
BECKET is a visual feast thanks to awesome sets, stunning wardrobe and the intriguing tensions supplied by clever, witty lines.
A marvelous production, a history lesson, a feast for the eyes and a thought provoking, timeless content. Highly recommended as an honorable drama, as an honorable achievement!
An opportunity lost for two great acting talents, burdened with serious historical inaccuracies,a host of anachronisms,'modern' dialogue and a grotesque misrepresentation of Canterbury Cathedral in the twelfth century.There are those who will say that these inconsistencies don't matter,but the credibility of the story is,nevertheless, undermined. Having said that, I pay tribute to the ability of the principal actors and their development of the characters of Becket and Henry, tracing the shift in their relationship and its consequences, notwithstanding the fact that both appear to be more 'friendly' than contemporary accounts would have us believe.Nevertheless, as a good, rousing semi-historical drama, it always makes compulsive viewing.
Although the film gives the viewer a great opportunity to see two movie giants at the height of their respective careers, the film as an historical reference will leave the viewer rather cold. Gross historical inaccuracies exist, which in my opinion seriously damage the film. For one (and a major one) Thomas a' Becket was not a Saxon but a Norman. The film's central conflict seems to rest upon this rather blatant oversight.
This colorful historical drama from the court of King Henry II tackles the conflict between Church and State, siding in no uncertain terms with the Church and Thomas Becket, Henry's Saxon (actually Norman) drinking buddy, who discovered his immortal soul after being elevated for purely political reasons to the throne of Archbishop (where he was promptly assassinated by Henry's over-zealous knights). The script places Becket on an ivory pedestal, but O'Toole's Henry steals the film, most likely because his regal temper tantrums (and suggested homosexual affection for the Archbishop) are more fun to watch than Becket's born-again moral anguish. Some clumsy exposition, notably the introduction to the flashback narrative structure, is camouflaged by literate dialogue and a pair of strong performances, and purists can be thankful for DVD technology: the earlier videotape added so much panning and scanning to the original wide screen production it almost had to be considered an entirely different film.
|Page 7 of 9:||       |
|Newsgroup reviews||External reviews||Parents Guide|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|