is a 1964
movie chronicling, with a fair amount of dramatization
, the friendship and struggle of Thomas Becket
, head of the Church
, and King Henry II
, of course). After the archbishop of Canterbury
dies, Henry II (Peter O'Toole
) has the brilliant idea to appoint
his friend (and a Saxon
), Thomas Becket (Richard Burton
), to the post. Becket is a traditional ally and backroom advisor to the crown.
Henry soon turns on his friend, however; while, hunting, they have a chance encounter with an oppressed Saxon family living in the forest. The king treats them as less than human, mocking the aging patriarch of the family and taking their daughter to the palace to spend the rest of her days as a whore. Becket stops him, saying that he "fancies" the girl. After much deliberation, the king agrees to let Becket have power over the girl; once the king departs, Becket lets her be; but in obtaining her freedom, he owes the king a favor.
When they return to the palace that night, Henry demands Becket's wife, Gwendolyn (Siân Phillips) in exchange for Becket's affair in the forest. Thus the feud between church and state begins, on a microcosmic scale.
Becket is also a 1923 movie based on the Alfred Lord Tennyson play, starring Frank Benson and A.V. Gramble, as well as a 1910 picture starring Charles Kent and William Shea.