Becket (1964) sketches and thoughts on live action fanart

“A miserable wretch who ate my bread! A man I raised from nothing! A man I loved! Yes, I loved him, and I still do! Enough, oh God, enough!”

– Henry II, from Becket (19)

Recently watched this classic movie about the (fictionalized) rift and borderline-romantic relationship between King Henry II and the future-saint Thomas Becket. I’ll be honest and say it wasn’t exactly my all-time favorite film—the historical inaccuracies were jarring to me, and parts of the plot I thought were weak. However on a character level it was very intriguing and very passionate and intense, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it! I wrote a serious review and longer thoughts on my writing blog, but I also felt an urgent need to do fan art. I feel like I rarely do art of live-action media, so I was a bit rusty trying to capture likenesses, but I liked the exercise of trying to do something that captured the dramatic feeling of the elements that stuck with me.

Doing work inspired by real life likenesses, like portraiture and in this case live-action fanart, is something that doesn’t come the most naturally to me, someone who does have training and experience doing realistic drawings from life, but whose original work is usually a lot more completely cartoony. So to make things easier, I often end up doing something in a process that starts with making tons of the Worst, Ugliest studies of faces ever that will never see the light of day. It’s very cringe to go through but also necessary because it’s a step in gaining familiarity with facial structures and features,

Then the next step is usually to take a break, draw something else, and then later hopefully come back and do quick doodles from memory—this is crucial after doing the ugly studies because then it’s more a focus on expressions and impressions. In film and theatre especially, the effect a character has can be less about how they look, and more the choices in how they behave, move, and how they’re dressed and styled. For me, I try to work off what is most memorable to me about the characters. That way, even if I can’t succeed in getting a realistic likeness that doesn’t look off, at least I can maybe capture a bit of how I experienced the media, if that makes any sense.

I like the contrast of Burton’s watery-eyed thoughtful face and O’Toole’s flighty motions and expressions throughout, it made for some fun visual contrast.

I can’t say these were completely in my comfort zone or even reflective of most of my work, but they were very fun to do and I think stretched my brain in a good way.

Bonus: like most historical movies, Becket took a ton of liberties with reality. I also decided to doodle my impressions of Henry II and Saint Becket according to contemporary historical descriptions. The Angevin monarchs had a lot of really neat and very lifelike descriptions of their behaviors, and Henry’s stands out a lot as a short, stocky, but commandeering and hyperactive figure who was both aggressive but very intelligent and educated. By all accounts Becket seems to me like someone who was just as calculating and politically motivated as Henry, not just an uncomplicated holy martyr standing up for the purity of the church or whatever. Both men existed in complex political and social environments which seems to describe most people in any point of history. Still, I can definitely enjoy historical fanfiction when I do get to watch or read it.

Becket (1964) is available to watch officially for free on Tubi, and you can read my review of it here.

Published by maiden theory

I'm just a Bird whose intentions are good

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