Monday, July 15, 2013

Movie of the Week – The Lion in Winter

This week’s movie: The Lion in Winter (1968).

The year is 1183 AD – King Henry II is getting on in years and must decide which of his three sons will inherit his throne. The problem is, however, that they are all despicable and will each most likely turn on him as soon as they have the power. But, a decision needs to be made. The family joins together for Christmas, as Henry prepares to make his announcement, each plotting and scheming to gain the upper hand.

The film is helmed by stage-director Anthony Harvey, which is very fitting as it is an adaptation of James Goldman’s play (Goldman also wrote the screenplay for which he won an Oscar). Fresh off the grand success of his musical work on the James Bond films of the 1960s, composer John Barry provided The Lion in Winter with a fantastic score (winning an Oscar). Brilliant cinematographer Douglas Slocombe (who would go in to shoot the Indiana Jones films) and art director Peter Murton also worked on the film.

Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn star as Henry and Eleanor, each giving one of their career best performances (and each receiving Oscar nominations, though only Hepburn came away with the win). Anthony Hopkins, John Castle, Nigel Terry, Timothy Dalton, and Jane Merrow are all strong in support.

The Lion in Winter is one of the great ‘actor’ films in cinema history. Harvey just lets the performances dictate the production – and they are masterful and powerful performances. The film Becket (which also features O’Toole as King Henry II, though earlier in history) is a wonderful companion piece. This is an absolute must-see for fans of O’Toole and Hepburn, as well as the craft of acting.

Trailer: Here

Available on: DVD and Streaming

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