Becket (1964)

Saint Thomas Becket and Three Plays

 

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Destiny waits in the hand of God, not in the hands of statesmen.

TS Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral

The investiture scene from the movie Becket (1964).  The story of the great Archbishop of Canterbury Saint Thomas Becket, who, from being the worldly Chancellor of King Henry II, became the great champion of the Church in life, and a greater champion in death, has always attracted artists and writers.  In our time Jean Anouilh wrote the play Becket, brilliantly brought to the screen in the 1964 film.  Filled with historical howlers, Becket was Norman not Saxon for example, it brilliantly captures the clash between Henry and the man who had been his friend and loyal servant, but who served a Greater Master after Henry, over his protest, had him raised to be Archbishop of Canterbury. Continue reading

Installation Scene From Becket

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In honor of the Anglican initiative of Pope Benedict this week, a reminder of the history of Catholic England, when Catholics were willing to stand against the State if need be to protect the Honor of God.   Becket (1964), although inheriting the historical howlers that existed in the play, and were known by the playwright Jean Anouilh who wisely preferred a poetic story to prosaic fact,  (Becket was Norman not Saxon, Henry II was not a crowned juvenile delinquent, the armor, as is usual in medieval epics, is all wrong for the period, etc.), this classic film helped awaken in me a desire to learn about the history of the Church.  With masterful performances by Richard Burton as “the holy blessed martyr” and Peter O’Toole as Henry II, the film brought alive to me as a child the high Middle Ages.  The installation sequence brought home to me the important role of ceremony, tradition and symbolism in our Faith, a lesson I have never forgotten.

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