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The Lion in Winter (1968)

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1183 AD: King Henry II's three sons all want to inherit the throne, but he won't commit to a choice. They and his wife variously plot to force him.



(screenplay), (play)
Won 3 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kenneth Ives ...
Queen Eleanor's Guard
Fran Stafford ...
Lady in Waiting
Ella More ...
Lady in Waiting
Kenneth Griffith ...
Strolling Player
Henry Woolf ...
Strolling Player
Karol Hagar ...
Strolling Player


Christmas 1183--an aging and conniving King Henry II plans a reunion where he hopes to name his successor. He summons the following people for the holiday: his scheming but imprisoned wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine; his mistress, Princess Alais, whom he wishes to marry; his three sons (Richard, Geoffrey, and John), all of whom desire the throne; and the young but crafty King Philip of France (who is also Alais' brother). With the fate of Henry's empire at stake, everybody engages in their own brand of deception and treachery to stake their claim. Written by <jgp3553@excite.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The most significant reserved seat attraction of the year!


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

30 October 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El león en invierno  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (70 mm)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)


(Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


While close-ups of Richard (Anthony Hopkins) in his jousting costume were being filmed, the horse was spooked and bolted. Hopkins fell off and broke his arm. Filming the scene with his sword raised above his jousting opponent was very difficult due to this. See more »


Christmas trees were an obscure German tradition, unknown to the English until its introduction by Queen Victoria's husband over 700 years later. Furthermore, even the concept of decorating with glass balls was even unknown to the Germans until long after this era. See more »


[first lines]
Henry II: Come for me!
See more »


Referenced in Horror Business (2005) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

the lion is king of the jungle, and of England
27 December 2005 | by (Portland, Oregon, USA) – See all my reviews

Katharine Hepburn won her third Oscar for "The Lion in Winter", playing brassy queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her role is sort of an interesting counterbalance to Peter O'Toole, as King Henry II. That is, she's elderly and he's young. Maybe it was an allusion to the growing generation gap in the world at the time.

But anyway, this is what epic tales of royalty are supposed to be. It shows Henry's conflicts in wondering who will succeed him. Never dragging, the movie truly gives one the feeling of being with these people and understanding their lives. One of the most interesting scenes - in my opinion at least - is when Eleanor says something about sex. I usually wouldn't expect someone of Katharine Hepburn's generation mention sex in a movie. But she does a great job here (well duh). Also starring are a very young Anthony Hopkins and an even younger Timothy Dalton. All in all, "The Lion in Winter" is a perfect movie in every way, and affirmed 1968 as one of the best movie years ever, with "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Funny Girl", "The Odd Couple", "The Planet of the Apes", "Romeo and Juliet", "Candy", "The Night of the Living Dead" and "Bullitt".

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