The Lion in Winter
Release Year: 1968
Director: Anthony Harvey
Writer: James Goldman (based on his play)
Starring: Peter O’Tooler, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, John Castle, Nigel Terry, Jane Merrow, Timothy Dalton, Nigel Stock
Rating: Won 3 Oscars: Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Score. 4 Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Peter O’Toole), Best Costume Design. Won 2 Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actor (Peter O’Toole). 5 Golden Globes nominations: Best Director, Best Actress – Drama (Katharine Hepburn), Best Supporting Actress (Jane Merrow), Best Screenplay, Best Score.
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #60, week 31 2015
In the year 1183 King Henry II of England (Peter O’Toole) will not commit to a choice between which of his three sons should inherit the throne. He and his wife Queen Eleanor (Katharine Hepburn) have different favourites and she and the three sons variously plots against the king to force him to make a choice.
James Goldman’s play is a much a story of an insanely dysfunctional family as a depiction of one of England’s most enigmatic royal couples. As the film is adapted from a Broadway play there are no big battle scenes here, rather human drama enfolding in convincing, but simple castle settings. Nothing distracts from the brilliant central performances from two of cinemas greatest actors. Peter O’Toole (Becket, 1964) melts into the role of Henry II, a passionate, angry, and scheming king constantly at odds with his three surviving sons and his wife, Eleanor. He is a talented king, enjoying his reign, but also a lonely man finding solace only in his mistress Alais. His turmultuous relationship with his queen, whom he once married for love but now loves and hates with equal measure, is the true joy of this film. Whenever O’Toole and Hepburn share the screen sparks fly and their many fights and mutual esteem for each other is enlessly entertaining and a joy to watch. Hepburn (The African Queen, 1951) gives one of the great performances of her career (for which she won one of her four Oscars), as the sarcastic and fascinating Eleanor. In many respects the most fascinating character in this story, a strong woman who is impossible to reign in but who at the same time wishes nothing more than for Henry to love her and her alone as he once did. O’Toole plays King Henry II as if it were his second nature, and in fact he had played the part previously in the film Becket (1964), and it is still baffling the he only ever won an honourary Oscar. The film marks the screen début of an almost inrecognisable Timothy Dalton (Hot Fuzz, 2007) and most notably of Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs, 1991) who gives a great performance as the eldest surviving son, Richard. Whether interested in English Medieval history or not, The Lion in Winter is a highly entertaining watch for anyone who enjoy a good drama. A brilliant film and an unmissable classic.
The film début of both Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton.
This is the second time Peter O’Toole played Henry II. The first time was in the film Becket from 1964.
Katharine Hepburn was actually a descendant of Eleanor of Acquitaine through various lines – both through her marriage to King Louis VII of France and to King Henry II of England.
Picture Copyright: Sandrew Metronome