Today: April 18, 2024

The Lion In Winter

It’s 1183 and King Henry II of England wants his youngest son, Prince John, to inherit his throne. His estranged wife Eleanor of Aquitaine favours their older son, Richard – he of Lionhearted fame. Eleanor is in prison for plotting to overthrow the King. One of Henry’s illegitimate sons, Geoffrey, is busy fermenting his own plots. Philip of France is attempting to forge an alliance by offering up his half-sister, Alais, to his ex-lover, Richard. Alais also happens to be Henry’s mistress. Think Game Of Thrones, only without the voyeuristic torture and casual sexual violence.

Peter O’Toole as Henry and Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor are at the height of their powers as the dulling duo. The script is witty, sly, and occasionally downright vicious. The supporting cast, including Anthony Hopkins (Richard) and Timothy Dalton (Philip) are a joy watch as the battle royal unfolds.

In 1968, Lion In Winter was one of the year’s biggest box office successes, winning Oscars for Hepburn, screenwriter James Goldman, and John Barry’s epic score. Adapted from Goldman’s own Broadway play, it’s theatrical origins are still very apparent and this is perhaps one of the film’s greatest weakness. While it’s beautifully filmed with glorious cinematography from Douglas Slocombe (Indiana Jones), the three-act set up flounders in the middle leaving the audience in desperate need of an interval pick-me-up. The dialogue is creaky too, although O’Toole and Hepburn pull it off as only seasoned pros can.

Lion In Winter may be getting  a little long in the teeth but this beast still has plenty of roar.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email:

Previous Story

The Man Who Fell To Earth

Next Story

Rogue One

Latest from Blog


Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.

Kind Hearts & Coronets

75 years after its release, StudioCanal’s crisp and bright 4K UHD restoration makes the prefect gift to mark the film’s Anniversary and the lasting legacy of the Ealing Comedy. Kind Hearts &

The Lavender Hill Mob

There are restorations … and then there are restorations … And, when it comes to 4K, StudioCanal are amongst the very best in the business. So, it should be no surprise that

Jack Ryan Complete Series Unboxing

The casting of John Krasinski – The Office’s Jim Halpert – as CIA analyst-turned-hero Jack Ryan certainly came as a surprise to those who were only familiar with Dunder Mifflin’s sarcastic, floppy-haired

Peter Doherty: Stranger in My Own Skin

Infamous Libertines and Babyshambles frontman Pete Doherty – uncommonly going by ‘Peter’ in this film’s title – has had a turbulent career and personal life that seldom saw him far from the
Go toTop

Don't Miss

The Lion In Winter


Ten Of The Best Based On True Stories Movies

To celebrate the release of Captain Phillips at cinemas from