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King Henry II argues over church and state with Thomas a Becket in the 12th century after naming him archbishop of Canterbury.
The primary bonus feature is a treat: a feature-length commentary by Peter O'Toole, accompanied by a moderator. With only occasional gaps of silence, the still sharp and well-spoken O'Toole recalls the making of the film, how he didn't research the historical King Henry ("The author has made the character; that's his job. My job is to play it."), and his memories of Richard Burton, both personal ("We found that we both enjoyed rugby, we both enjoyed songs, and we both enjoyed drinking, and got along very well.") and professional ("he had an astonishing presence on the stage"). There are also two archival interviews with Burton from 1967 and 1977 (26 minutes total), in which he doesn't discuss Becket, but he does say a lot about his life on stage, he recites some lines, and speaks candidly about his drinking problem.
Don't skip over the interviews with the film's editor Anne Coates and composer Laurence Rosenthal. Coates (7 minutes) has some good stories, and Rosenthal (12 minutes) discusses the influences on his Oscar-nominated score and how he had to teach Gregorian chant to Burton ("He was one of these people whom you really can't teach anything. He had this characteristic that you can only remind him of something he already knows. But he didn't know how to sing Gregorian chant."). In addition to a photo gallery and the four-and-a-half-minute theatrical trailer, MPI's long-delayed DVD looks better than many major-studio classics. --David Horiuchi
Other Peter O'Toole Films
Other Richard Burton Films
More King Henrys on DVD
- Theatrical trailer
- Still gallery
- Interviews with editor Anne V. Coats and composer Laurence Rosenthal
- Archival interviews with Richard Burton
- TV spot
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Top customer reviews
This picture could not be made today for many reasons. Women are not well treated in it, for one major reason. O'Toole as Henry II rants and snarls repeatedly at his wife, the very well born Eleanor of Aquitaine, and his mother.
Listening to the commentary, it turns out that play was based on two "famous" feuding men in British theatre who turned the theatre upside down with their feud. The Becket story is not followed with historical accuracy. Becket was not Saxon but a Norman like the king. O'Toole laughs because he says that in schools around the country, teachers are trying to teach the story of Becket and point out the inaccuracies without realizing that the story isn't very accurate at all. I don't know the story of Becket well but would be very interested in learning about him. The movie was interesting, fun and the performances of Burton and O'Toole are quite good.
Most recent customer reviews
Hot Toasty Rag, July 21, 2017
Becket is a man’s movie. I don’t think there are any women in the cast, or if there are, they have very...Read more