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Overall Rating
4.64

Awesome83.33%
Worth A Look: 9.05%
Average: 1.43%
Pretty Bad: 0.95%
Total Crap: 5.24%

2 reviews, 198 user ratings


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Lion in Winter, The
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by Isobel Sharp

"And you thought your family was trouble."
5 stars

Intrigue. Attempted patricide. Being locked in the castle with the entire family. It must be Christmas!

For sheer bloody-minded, backstabbing, double-crossing behavior, few families can beat the Plantagenets. This is unfortunate for King Henry II, who, having brought together England, Scotland, Wales, and a hefty chunk of France under his rule, has to leave it to someone capable of keeping it all intact. Henry (Peter O'Toole) is a master manipulator, powerful and charismatic, who favors his youngest son John for the throne. His sternest opposition comes from his quick-witted wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katherine Hepburn), who he keeps imprisoned for, among other things, attempting to lead a rebellion against him. Eleanor favors Richard (Anthony Hopkins, in his first major film role), and will do whatever it takes to put him on the throne in John's place - or in Henry's, if necessary. And though middle brother Geoffrey has been left out of the plans, he's more than capable of manipulating both sides in order to secure himself the best position possible in the new regime.

Over one Christmas, the family members are brought together by Henry so that he can sort things out, solidify his alliances, and satisfy an old obligation to the young King of France (Timothy Dalton, in a small but very tasty part), who of course has his own agenda. In fact, to say that any of these people have an agenda is an understatement - they all seem to have multiple schemes going on at once. Alongside the political motivations are personal ones - Eleanor's old hurts from Henry's infidelities drive her behavior almost as much as the thought of seeing her favored child in power, and Henry supports John for reasons which seem less to do with John's promise as a leader (which seems to be apparent only to his father), as to an old grudge against Richard for choosing Eleanor over him. Only Alais, poor Alais (a very sad Jane Merrow), mistress to the King, promised bride to Richard (threatened bride to John), has just one agenda - to stay with Henry, the man she loves. Her simple dedication makes her an easy pawn; in one of the film's best scenes, she is rushed to the chapel by Henry for a midnight wedding to Richard - a wedding which is calculated by the King to blow some alliances apart, but nearly at the expense of Alais, the woman he claims to love.

This film is not for the slow. The dialogue is quick and sharp; the plot twists and turns as alliances are formed, broken, and formed again. Fortunately, you can take notes in the privacy of your own home, and rewind the tape when things get complex - or simply to watch again the brilliant acting from almost all parties, most especially in the relationship between Henry and Eleanor. O'Toole and Hepburn give fantastic performances, by turns wicked, funny, passionate and compassionate. Both are compelling enough that you want them to get their way, yet vicious enough to turn your blood cold, but keep your eyes glued to the screen. Hopkins, as the warrior Prince Richard, plays the part with a gentle undertone; though he seems primed to rip the kingdom out of his father's hands if necessary, he's just as capable of tears when faced with his mother's pain. Even while sharing the screen with someone as dominating as Hepburn, Hopkins more than holds his own. The weakest part is that of Terry as young Prince John. Though he froths and spits very well, you never understand what it is that Henry sees in him that would support the weight of a kingdom.

The Lion in Winter is probably one of those films you know you should see, but haven't gotten around to. Get around to it. Nothing you'll see coming out at the Cineplex can match this movie for wit or brains, let alone performance. If you'd prefer to see things blow up, watch the news.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1842&reviewer=291
originally posted: 12/29/01 12:23:02
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User Comments

4/25/10 Habeous Corpus Not your average historical Drama. Makes learning the Plantagenet saga much more palatable 5 stars
3/03/10 Diana Fantastic cast, esp. Hepburn and O'Toole. Great script too! 5 stars
3/02/10 PAUL SHORTT SUPERB, WELL MADE DRAMA WITH GOOD PERFORMANCES 5 stars
12/05/09 Todd My favorite film ever. Dialogue and acting of this callibre are rarely seen... 5 stars
9/18/09 Danielle Comptois Your mom likes chode. :] 1 stars
5/02/09 cass it was ok 3 stars
3/31/09 king joe fantasitc performances, not much of a plot 4 stars
1/06/09 Bob One of my ALL TIME FAVORITES! The acting is Superb! 5 stars
6/09/08 Grant Fantastic!! - Think of it as a Medieval "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf" 5 stars
5/27/08 david amazing acting, music, scenery and writing 5 stars
4/25/08 Andres Good movie, but I suggest reading A Proud Taste For Scarlet and Miniver instead. 4 stars
4/14/08 Anne Fantastic! But why do you have the wrong film in the ad? 5 stars
2/17/08 Lori Brilliant dialogue, intense acting, great historical story 5 stars
1/04/08 dgjkdfgkl WORST MOVIE.....SOOO BORING 1 stars
12/14/07 Em wow, im not sure if I've ever disliked a movie so much. 1 stars
9/04/07 Cee Elans Loved It! Excellent 5 stars
8/24/07 John G One of the best movies ever made, the acting is top notch 5 stars
8/09/07 BG One of the best movies ever made! Fantastic again and again. 5 stars
6/06/07 Maurice One of the two best movies ever made 5 stars
4/15/07 Bart the bear This is a seriously overrated film. The acting is exaggerated. the movie is over the top hi 2 stars
12/10/06 Brenda A reason i dislike this movie is because i have to watch it for school instead of for fun. 4 stars
10/03/06 Judith gReat, i Love it 5 stars
6/22/06 TB The Best drama film they made 5 stars
11/05/05 MARTHA BRAWLEY ONE OF BEST MOVIES EVER, EVER MADE 5 stars
8/20/05 Sara B. Top-notch actors, Top-notch play... they don't make them this way anymore, folks! 5 stars
8/06/05 Fred K Superb acting, set, camera work. Everything makes this worth watching. See it!! 5 stars
7/20/05 Jeanne "There'll be pork in the treetops come morning!" Peter and Kate take no prisoners! 5 stars
5/23/05 Ben Fabrizi Forget acting school, just watch this movie! 5 stars
5/22/05 Katrina one of the best movies ever made 5 stars
4/19/05 dbx amazing. I was speechless after watching it for the first time. 5 stars
12/15/04 Lindsey I disagree, for any student needing help understanding the dispute its a perfect visual. 5 stars
11/18/04 Erin One of the finest pieces of acting you'll find in any movie. Letter perfect performances!! 5 stars
10/26/04 Katherine Kettering Awsome 5 stars
10/12/04 David Downey Stunning! 5 stars
9/20/04 Tove Hansen unforgettable 5 stars
9/18/04 Jim Riviting, Hepburn and O'Toole's performance is unbelievable 5 stars
8/23/04 Rissi Brilliant! But not for the slow-minded. 4 stars
8/01/04 Becky Keesey good acting 5 stars
6/19/04 SF My favourite film. Absolute perfection. Awesome direction, performances, script and score. 5 stars
6/18/04 DM Really one of my all-time favorites ("I could hang you by the nipple.......") 5 stars
6/10/04 Ubiratan Definetly not for the college-comedy audience :) 5 stars
6/02/04 Linda My all time favorite film 5 stars
5/24/04 Bruce Excellent, and with stunning music!! 5 stars
4/07/04 SunBear In my personal top 10 of all time. I can't even imagine a finer performance than O'Toole's 5 stars
4/01/04 Diane Hepburn is fabulous! 5 stars
3/30/04 Jessie I fell asleep 3 times. I had to watch it for a school paper. 1 stars
3/21/04 jena this movie sux. dont watch it!! 1 stars
3/16/04 david gish only one word-awesome 5 stars
3/08/04 Debby a gem, incredible script & characters 5 stars
2/10/04 bruce A WONDERFUL FILM, and with great title music (pedal harpsichord), too! :-) 5 stars
2/07/04 Joy Incredible movie. Great acting, great script. Love it. 5 stars
1/30/04 Avery superb acting 5 stars
1/30/04 Virginia D. Falcone One of the Best Movies Ever Made 5 stars
1/20/04 Bob Great Script - Great Acting - Great Story 5 stars
12/14/03 suzy lovitt this movie sucked a big one!!! 1 stars
12/02/03 Danielle You dont ever want to stop watching for fear of missing any good lines or events. 5 stars
10/01/03 dee it sucked so hard 1 stars
9/12/03 Nancy Intriguing 4 stars
9/11/03 kee78 This film was absolutely delightful and very educational. 5 stars
8/06/03 Me Sweet 5 stars
8/04/03 j laird on of the best medeivel historical dramas 5 stars
7/21/03 Gali Perfect in every detail 5 stars
7/11/03 Claire Dalton A quality movie 4 stars
7/11/03 Salvatore Buttaci Lion of Winter was one of the greatest movies ever filmed! 5 stars
7/01/03 Graham Osgood My favourite film of all time! Hepburn mesmerising. 5 stars
7/01/03 A. G. First rate. A factual representation of an amazing family. 5 stars
6/30/03 Robb One of my favorite movies ever! 5 stars
6/14/03 Jamie Taerea One of my top five! 5 stars
4/30/03 beepers one of the greatest 5 stars
4/25/03 Elizabeth favorite movie since age 10, can't be beat 5 stars
4/12/03 T.Romano Excellent..One of the best movies you will ever see..The script is second to none 5 stars
4/06/03 Abner Excellent, A++ 5 stars
4/05/03 Kathleen Anez I loved it back in 1969 and still do! 5 stars
4/03/03 Andy Luterman LIW is beyond "Awesome"! It's trans-awesome! The dialogue is sharp & witty & the acting n 5 stars
3/31/03 C. Allman couldn't put it down,,,,,even after 3rd viewing 5 stars
3/30/03 Tori Gallucci A brilliant film. Full of wit and irony. Stellar performances. Always in my top ten list 5 stars
3/22/03 Jeff Greenwell Excellent movie, full of political intrigue and excellent acting 4 stars
3/17/03 john Eleanor is hot as hell 5 stars
3/16/03 Susan Johnson Theatrical, brilliant; needs concentration but worth the effort 5 stars
3/10/03 Shadaan Felfeli A cauldron that simmers with outstanding performances, direction, score and dialogue. 5 stars
3/04/03 Mark Scheele Best Peter O'toole 5 stars
3/03/03 reina there was no point to the film, some of the ideas get slurred in to many words 1 stars
3/01/03 Art Nasta Stunning 5 stars
2/26/03 John Jacob kinda gets dragged out, but its ok i guess 4 stars
2/26/03 rj its boring and its crap 1 stars
2/25/03 Sky A truly magnificent film... by far better than anything at theatres today. 5 stars
2/16/03 michael lewkin brilliant portrayal of a family, articulate and witty 5 stars
2/16/03 Sandi Lomand O'Toole and Hupburn give the performances of their lives, and THAT"S saying something. 5 stars
2/16/03 michel virard perfect English, perfect plot, perfect actors 5 stars
2/15/03 Brian Kowalchuk Shakespeare on steroids 5 stars
1/25/03 David Jenkinson perhaps the most finely acted movie I've ever seen 5 stars
1/17/03 Todd Williams One of the best period movies period! One of the first films I purchased 5 stars
1/11/03 Meghann My absolute favorite film of all time 5 stars
1/11/03 Nick intriguing trail of alliances, but the dialogue tends to run on. 4 stars
1/09/03 Rab If you like great acting,superb script and lack of high tech then this is a must see. 5 stars
1/09/03 matt great movie 5 stars
1/01/03 Sabine It is both historically accurate and entertaining, a rare couple 5 stars
12/22/02 Jane Lavender My all time favorite movie, it has it all 5 stars
12/20/02 Bean does not have a point 1 stars
12/03/02 Pamela I never thought that such debotchery and dysfunction took place in such a Christian time 5 stars
10/16/02 Morgan Incredibly well done, very enjoyable 5 stars
9/29/02 Geertruijt nifty 5 stars
9/24/02 Barbara Brown I use this to teach British history - we find it amusing to see "John" later as Arthur in ' 5 stars
9/21/02 jj outstanding! One of my all time favorites 5 stars
9/15/02 Jess Great! 5 stars
8/16/02 I Can't Swim They might be the most dysfunctional family I ever saw on film 5 stars
6/25/02 Charles Tatum Incredible, O'Toole was a god 5 stars
4/30/02 Holli C. Katherine is awesome 5 stars
4/23/02 Tenven Seron boring as a class assignment 2 stars
4/18/02 Phil Weldon Peter O'Toole should have won an Oscar. It CERTAILY should have won the Best Picture Oscar 5 stars
4/14/02 Richard Smith Great Movie with witty characters and outstanding dialogue. 5 stars
4/11/02 J. A. Tauriainen This is a Spellbinder with excellent actors and of course Katherine Hepburn. 5 stars
4/03/02 Dave MacDougall a solid old flick 4 stars
3/20/02 lamppost Great film but worth watching for Hepburn and O'Toole alone. 5 stars
3/20/02 Barbara A film of MANY surprise twists and turns:) 5 stars
3/20/02 David Maurer Some of the best character interplay ever 5 stars
3/19/02 Well Bloody Kell Only Too Long for the simple minded 5 stars
3/19/02 Judith Vickers Fantastic film. Am going to purchase it. 5 stars
3/16/02 Cinnamon Mason One of the most brilliant films ever made! 5 stars
3/15/02 cARa waaaaay too long! 1 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Love me, little lamb, or leave me. 5 stars
2/15/02 D Maranan Mind-blowing 5 stars
2/11/02 Pauline Years Awsome + 5 stars
2/02/02 King David So refreshing to see a film that actually stimulates the mind, and indeed so well as this! 5 stars
2/01/02 Donovan Dialogue and acting doesn't get any better than this.A Cinematic Masterpiece! 5 stars
2/01/02 Andrew Carden Long, but Very Amusing Little Movie. 4 stars
1/11/02 Evan Samaritano My favorite film of all time! 5 stars
12/21/01 sheila my favorite christmas film 5 stars
12/14/01 Joker Can I get a scorecard? 5 stars
12/03/01 Ronis The most atmospheric medieval film-yet! First class. 5 stars
11/30/01 Alisha Tucker The best of the best! 5 stars
11/28/01 Amanda its is absolutely amazing 5 stars
11/28/01 James Golden I can not find a single flaw anywhere 5 stars
11/27/01 ahhaha superb writing and acting by all dramatis personae 5 stars
11/09/01 Basilio Good 4 stars
11/03/01 William Fantastic writing and acting, some of the greatest lines ever put on paper or screen. 5 stars
11/02/01 obi fantastic drama, acrid riveting dialogue, breathtaking performances from O'Toole and Hepbur 5 stars
10/31/01 James Paul Bereterbide One of the best films ever. In my top ten and ever since its release at that. 5 stars
10/18/01 GrLangford Human depravity played out perfectly... (why mankind desperately needs a Saviour - JESUS. 5 stars
10/06/01 adam I absolutely love this film. It is so good on every level. But most notably script, acting 5 stars
9/24/01 Garth Anderson The finest costume drama ever made, with magnificent performances from the whole cast. 5 stars
9/23/01 Bear The dialouge is simply delicious. This movie gets better the more times that you watch it. 5 stars
9/17/01 C. Wineser great script, great cast, great movie 5 stars
9/16/01 Kyle Fascinating, Hepburn is riveting! 5 stars
9/16/01 freakboy this is a fantastic film! 5 stars
9/03/01 Jacque This was a great movie. I enjoyed all especially John Castle 4 stars
8/29/01 Peacham Greatest Film ever made. Sterling cast, emotional performances and expert dialouge. 5 stars
8/26/01 ChillyAK Great Political Intrigue 5 stars
8/13/01 MacPat Dialogue and plot are superlative; this type of craftmanship is nonexistent these days 5 stars
7/27/01 Elvisfan Hepburn vs. O'Toole...bring it on 5 stars
7/16/01 Richard Not your ususal Christmas special. A very well crafted movie in all respects 5 stars
6/23/01 Laura If you like old movies you'll love this plot; it is fantastic. 4 stars
6/13/01 Jason of Nathans One of the best films ever made. 5 stars
5/29/01 Rajeev Hundoo Seen long back but still remember 5 stars
5/25/01 Pat Newkirk Unmatched in all aspects. 5 stars
5/22/01 Kevin Gross Awesome movie 5 stars
5/17/01 Sarah Very good 5 stars
4/13/01 Doris James All the superlatives in the world can't do justice to its magnificence. 5 stars
4/12/01 Riedy EXCELLENT! I saw this movie long ago; never realized I was looking at Hopkins and Dalton 5 stars
4/11/01 Aubrey Murray Loved every second of it! Amazing cast and great work! 5 stars
4/09/01 Allison McLaughlin It was a very nice movie, and even though I had to watch it in school, I really liked it. 4 stars
4/06/01 Sharon Davis John Castle was the best part of the movie, and I give 5 stars
3/24/01 jim Stellar!!! 5 stars
3/17/01 Luminita outstanding performance, remarkable interpretation, great script, witty, funny and dramatic 5 stars
3/08/01 Sarah It was interesting and educational 3 stars
3/07/01 Liquifix2001 needs to be remade into modern times 3 stars
3/07/01 Ann Pretty tite ass movie 5 stars
2/07/01 Kathy The Lion in Winter is one of the best films ever made. One of my all-time faves. 5 stars
2/03/01 Becky They had the best one liners in here. I'm not sure if the movie was a tragedy or a comedy. 5 stars
1/30/01 Diana Dilcher Great movie. Renewed my interest in England's history 5 stars
1/20/01 larry brooks my favorite film 5 stars
1/20/01 Ethel Janowiak Great Movie 5 stars
1/19/01 kenny Its good to be king.....and o'toole plays it to the hilt 5 stars
1/13/01 C. Allan Masterful 5 stars
1/01/01 Mic The script rivals All About Eve for wit and complexity 5 stars
12/30/00 Khairul Islam Very good movie 4 stars
12/13/00 pat b totally awesome/i want the directors cut!!! 5 hrs is too little ! 5 stars
11/30/00 Zac Hilarious dialogue, historically factually, they put fun in dysfunctional 5 stars
11/29/00 Angel Not the best film ever made, but nonetheless a wonderful film. 4 stars
11/26/00 Ley A wonderful fim with a great cast especially Katharine Hepburn who outshines everyone! 5 stars
10/12/00 Vivaldi Agreed: snappy dialogue, Peter is a fucking coolass jerk, etc. But it's sort of dry 4 stars
10/08/00 Fang-Lin Best dialogue, stellar acting. 5 stars
7/09/00 Eric Fantastic! I was mesmerized by all of the scheming and witty comebacks 5 stars
6/12/00 Richard Shea The dialog makes this movie... 5 stars
6/02/00 Al A BRILLIANT Film. 5 stars
5/16/00 Judy Hoard Non-stop scintillating dialogue 5 stars
5/16/00 Bob Van Jones The parrying dialogue is music to the ears. 5 stars
3/25/00 Daisy Powerful 5 stars
3/10/00 Cheryl One of the best films ever made. It has excellent dialogue and acting. 5 stars
2/20/00 Mack Mangham My favorite ever since its appearance 5 stars
12/15/99 David Fenton Probably the most outstanding film I have ever had the privilege to view. Let's see a DVD! 5 stars
10/13/99 Sean McCarthy breathtaking, it makes you think and it makes you laugh. A very witty masterpiece 5 stars
10/10/99 john grove combines history, wit and superlative acting 5 stars
10/07/99 sophia962 "I'd hang you from the nipples but you'd shock the children" An absolute must. 5 stars
9/13/99 A Kottan very good movie indeed 5 stars
7/27/99 Betty Taylor very good movie, some light hearted moments too. 4 stars
7/22/99 madraco Without peer 5 stars
3/20/99 Heather of the Heath Hepburn, O'Toole and Hopkins, need I say more? 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-Feb-1968 (PG)
  DVD: 19-Jun-2001

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Jul-1968 (PG)




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