I watched the movie Becket over the holiday weekend and it wasn’t bad. The acting was quite good (no surprise, given the actors) and was probably quite a legitimate nomination for Best Actor for both the leading men and a Best Supporting nod for Gielgud. Though, in passing, let me ask those who have seen more of Peter O’Toole’s movies than I, do all of his character seem that…ah, light in the loafers? I think the only other role I’ve seen him in is that of Lawrence of Arabia, so… Though now I come to look at his list of credits, apparently he was in Troy (I don’t remember much of that movie, thankfully) and did a voice in Ratatouille.
The disappointing thing about Becket to me is the way the writer/director/producer/whoever felt the need to switch up the story to make it more interesting. Apparently someone thought Becket would be more interesting if he was a man who lacked morals and then found them in his role as Archbishop instead of being someone who already had a firm grasp and found that his application of them in a new role made it impossible to continue in the good graces of his friend and king. Becket would have been just as interesting as a man walking a careful balance between his conscience and loyalty to his friend who was thrown off by his friend’s belief that, when push came to shove, he would choose friendship and patriotism before morality and God.
So how is he like Moses? Well, this change is like that in The Ten Commandments, where Moses starts out of Egypt to escape a murder rap and to discover why it is that slavery exists and to start a sort of ancient Underground Railroad. He ends up freeing his people sure, and it was God what told him to do it, but he’s motivated more by a righteous anger against slavery than anything else. In both cases, the moral point is watered down and/or lost in an attempt to make the character more relevant, dare I say?