King Henry II of England has trouble with the Church. When the Archbishop of Canterbury dies, he has a brilliant idea. Rather than appoint another pious cleric loyal to Rome and the Church, he will appoint his old drinking and wenching buddy, Thomas Becket, technically a deacon of the church, to the post. Unfortunately, Becket takes the job seriously and provides abler opposition to Henry.
Here's my royal foot on your royal buttocks! King Henry II of England has grown tired of the interference of the Church. When the Archbishop of Canterbury dies, he senses an opportunity to gain the upper hand. Much to the church, and Thomas Becket's surprise, he appoints his great friend Thomas to the highly important position. What Henry hadn't bargained for was that Becket takes the role very serious indeed and serves God to the full, so where once there was great friendship between the two men, there is now an uneasy feud. Based on the Jean Anouilh play, Becket is as near a technically perfect film as you could wish to see, with the acting on show coming right out of the top draw. Nominated for 12 Academy Awards, it won only one for Best Adapted Screenplay (Edward Analt), but on another given year it could quite easily have cleaned up. Peter O'Toole & Richard Burton play Henry II & Thomas Becket respectively, both men feeding of each others commitment to the project to bring peerless results, witness one scene in particular as they exchange views on horseback on a British beach, wonderful stuff. The costumes, the cinematography from Geoffrey Unsworth (now booming from the screen with the DVD restoration work), the sound, and the brilliant sets all come together to make a top of the range Historical drama. But all these would not stand out if the story wasn't any good, but Becket's triumph is in the story itself, a tale about the separation of great friends, and the separation of the state from the church, it really is an intriguing and beguiling way to spend your evening. One glaring error aside (Becket was not a Saxon, but a Norman), the makers have followed history rather well, and it leaves us with what i believe to be one of the best films of its type. 10/10