John N Hart, Brian Carmody and Patrick Milling Smith’s Smuggler Films has acquired the live stage and feature remake rights to Jean Anouilh‘s 1960 play Becket.
Playwright Ranjit Bolt will write the new adaptation, based on the story of the twelfth century Archbishop Of Canterbury who enraged King Henry II when he declared fealty to God over the king.
The play was originally produced in London and starred Christopher Plummer and Eric Porter under the direction of Peter Hall, ultimately relocating to Broadway where it starred Laurence Olivier and Anthony Quinn in alternate roles.
Becket was adapted into a film in 1964 starring Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole and went on to earn 12 Academy Award nominations, winning for best adapted screenplay.
“What distinguishes [Anouilh’s plays] are a piercing, cynical wit and intelligence,” Bolt said. “In Becket, alongside the tragedy of a great friendship turning tragically, and epoch-makingly sour, Anouilh brings these trademark qualities to bear once more, this time in the service of an acute examination of an age-old theme: the clash of egos in power politics.”
“Becket’s themes of devotion and betrayal of two men in the prime of their lives are arresting,” Hart said. “Anouilh has a unique sense of humour that other translations of Becket haven’t quite captured.
“Also, Anouilh understood the muscularity of these two men very much shaped by the brutality of their time when England was just emerging as a nation State. Ranjit Bolt is uniquely qualified having translated countless French classics including other works of Anouilh.”