The Lion in Winter

Henry II and his estranged queen battle over the choice of an heir.
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Credits: TheMovieDb.

Film Cast:

  • Henry II: Peter O’Toole
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine: Katharine Hepburn
  • Richard: Anthony Hopkins
  • Geoffrey: John Castle
  • John: Nigel Terry
  • Philip II: Timothy Dalton
  • Alais: Jane Merrow
  • William Marshall: Nigel Stock
  • Bishop of Durham: O. Z. Whitehead
  • Queen Eleanor’s Guard: Kenneth Ives
  • Strolling Player: Kenneth Griffith
  • Strolling Player: Henry Woolf
  • Strolling Player: Karol Hagar
  • Strolling Player: David Griffith

Film Crew:

  • Director of Photography: Douglas Slocombe
  • Assistant Editor: Lesley Walker
  • Original Music Composer: John Barry
  • Executive Producer: Joseph E. Levine
  • Editor: John Bloom
  • Art Direction: Peter Murton
  • Director: Anthony Harvey
  • ADR & Dubbing: Gerry Humphreys
  • Sound Recordist: Simon Kaye
  • Music: John Scott
  • Assistant Director: Kip Gowans
  • Theatre Play: James Goldman
  • Producer: Martin Poll
  • Costume Design: Margaret Furse
  • Production Manager: Basil Appleby
  • Production Manager: Víctor Merenda
  • Makeup Artist: Bill Lodge
  • Production Supervisor: John Quested
  • Camera Operator: Chic Waterson
  • Sound Editor: Chris Greenham
  • Casting: Paul Lee Lander
  • Special Effects: Garth Inns
  • Set Decoration: Lee Poll
  • Associate Producer: Jane C. Nusbaum
  • Hairstylist: A.G. Scott
  • Orchestrator: Robert Richards
  • Unit Manager: Jim Brennan
  • Production Manager: René Brun
  • Key Grip: Michael Walter

Movie Reviews:

  • John Chard: I marvel at you after all these years. Still like a democratic drawbridge: going down for everybody.

    The Lion in Winter is directed by Anthony Harvey and adapted to screenplay from his own play by James Goldman. It stars Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Jane Merrow, John Castle, Anthony Hopkins, Timothy Dalton, Nigel Stock and Nigel Terry. Music is by John Barry and cinematography by Douglas Slocombe.

    1183 A.D.: King Henry II’s (Toole) three sons all want to inherit the throne, but he won’t commit to a choice. His sons and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Hepburn), variously plot to force him into a choice – but he himself has is own agendas as well.

    An utter lesson in theatrical tropes shifted to the screen with brilliant results. Set over the Christmas period, Henry II has called all the family together to the family castle in France, for what proves to be a blindingly sharp game of human chess.

    Essentially it’s one giant family squabble of huge political importance, a conniving dynasty war that could shape history. The script sizzles with literate smarts and firey dialogue, with performances from the top draw, while costuming, set design and Barry’s melancholy score seal the deal for what is a true genre classic. 9/10

  • CinemaSerf: Katherine Hepburn is simply superb in this depiction of the truly dysfunctional relationship between Eleanor of Aquitaine, the estranged queen of England’s King Henry II and her spouse. Peter O’Toole reprises his characterisation from “Becket” (1964), and together they spar and spat with aplomb. Aided by a wonderful screenplay from James Goldman that is full of sarcasm, pith and some wonderfully effective (and brutal) put-downs, we play through this most bizarre of family dynamics. It all centres around a Christmas court for which the Queen is released from her Salisbury house arrest to join the couple’s three sons: the ambitious, but sexually ambiguous Richard (Anthony Hopkins), the King’s favourite, but pretty weak John (Nigel Terry) and the clever, silent-type, Geoffrey (a lovely, understated, effort from John Castle) at Chinon, where they will also be joined by the young and naive Philippe II, King of France (Timothy Dalton). Director Anthony Harvey now presents us with a stylish and quickly paced illustration of just how this devious, untrustworthy and potentially murderous family were prepared to conspire and manoeuvre to ensure who, eventually, succeed to the English throne. Hepburn and O’Toole have a distinct and effective chemistry between them. She has the best lines, I think, and delivers them with a razor sharp wit – you are never quite certain what either she, or her equally and skilfully manipulative husband are plotting as the sons prove to be pretty selfish, fickle and sometimes quite imbecilic. The film looks great, the sets and costumes are spot on and the whole thing offers an excellent appraisal of the antics of a collection of shrewd 12th century despots.
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