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Religious Hope from the Movies: BECKET (1964)

DIRECTED BY: Peter Glenville

STARRING: Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, John Gielgud



Hosted by The Reverend Dr. James B. Lemler


The magnificent 1964 movie BECKET was nominated for 11 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (2 of them!) and Best Supporting Actor, while winning the Best Screenplay award. It tells the dramatic story of two 12th century English leaders, King Henry II (Peter O’Toole) and Thomas Becket (Richard Burton). It depicts a challenging time in history. The Normans conquered England in the 11th century and then oppressed the Saxon people and destroyed their leadership as much as possible. King Henry uses his lower-class Saxon friend Becket to be the Chancellor of England, and then in a supposed stroke of genius (in his mind) makes him Archbishop of Canterbury. But...Thomas has a change of heart, serves God and England's people courageously, and is eventually killed for it. The themes found in BECKET are so very pertinent to our lives and time. What does it mean to have loyalty and faith? What values command our highest loyalty? What should people of faith do when government is oppressive and leadership erratic? How do we perceive genuine call, responsibility, and conviction in our lives, even if that means radically changing direction? Yes, the story takes place in the 12th century, but the issues are those of this very day.

About the Host:

The Reverend Dr. James B. Lemler, Rector of Christ Church Greenwich, is a nationally known leader, educator, consultant, preacher and pastor. Prior to his appointment at Christ Church Greenwich he served as the Director of Mission for the Episcopal Church, USA and was the Dean and President of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, an internationally recognized institution of theological education and leadership. Additionally, his ministry has included service in a large and vital urban parish and Episcopal school, as a university chaplain, and in two major cathedral churches.

Dr. Lemler has published various articles and essays, study guides for the Episcopal Media Center, trustee education materials, Vestry Papers contributions, and journals. His publications include, Serving Those in Need, 20/20: A Vision for the Church, God and Money, Groundwork: Resources for Congregational Growth and Transformation, Moving Ahead in Mission, and Groundwork II (Year B): Resources for Congregational Growth and Transformation. Additionally, he is the editor of the Transformation Series (2008) from Church Publishing Group and the author of the third book in that series, Transforming Congregations.




RUNNING TIME: 148 minutes






Carte Blanche: FREE
Nonmembers - $12
Members - $7
Students/Seniors (Mon - Thu) - $9




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