Tales of kings, queens, princes, and the games of thrones have proved popular across the centuries. Whether it’s Shakespeare writing about Henry V or Richard II, of a rather popular HBO series, we seemingly can’t get enough; particularly in countries who have never had a monarchy. Adapted from a Broadway play by James Goldman, Anthony Harvey’s The Lion in Winter is a powerful drama featuring a star-studded cast.
After the death of his son and heir, Henry II (Peter O’Toole) is determined to find a new successor. He summons his three living children and his Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn), who has been imprisoned for ten years, back to court. Richard (Anthony Hopkins), his eldest, is a proven soldier and Eleanor’s favourite. Henry, on the other hand, favours his youngest son John (Nigel Terry). Meanwhile, King Philip II of France (Timothy Dalton) arrives to demand the return of his half-sister (Jane Merrow), and Henry’s mistress, who is betrothed to Richard.
Now beautifully restored The Lion in Winter remains a magnificent film. The cast is superb and the script is brilliantly written. Whilst the intrigue and espionage between the main players twists and turns it’s the explosive chemistry between O’Toole and Hepburn which radiates. It feels like watching a play, but great sets and location shooting allow it to go deeper. The Lion in Winter is majestic cinema with an incredible cast and brilliant dialogue.
The Lion in Winter is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Studiocanal on Monday.