Norman is a curmudgeon with an estranged relationship with his daughter Chelsea. At Golden Pond, he and his wife nevertheless agree to care for Billy, the son of Chelsea's new boyfriend, and a most unexpected relationship blooms.
A member of the House of Lords dies, leaving his estate to his son. Unfortunately, his son thinks he is Jesus Christ. The other, somewhat more respectable, members of their family plot to steal the estate from him. Murder and mayhem ensue.
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
I am a high school history teacher, and I use this film to give students insight to the way Medieval kings, queens, and princes plotted and schemed with and against one another, how marriages were arranged with political motives, and how the relationships between these self-important royals shaped the history of the time. When I first introduced the films plot to my student, I was met with apathy and predisposed boredom, but they quickly were caught up in the intrigue and plot twists. At each major turn (an impromptu wedding, a surprise revelation about one of the character's sexuality, etc.), the students were often literally gasping.
As for the film itself, I can not think of a movie with more solid acting from the headliners (O'Toole and Hepburn) to the other principal players (Hopkins, Dalton, Terry, and especially Castle), and even the other characters are well cast (Merrow as Alais is not especially solid, but she is at least adequate in her portrayal as "the only pawn" in this game of kings, queens, and knights).
It is, of course, not to be seen as wholly accurate historically, as it would be near impossible to achieve such for events that took place 800 years ago, but the major themes are true to form, and the film is wonderfully engrossing. Highly recommended!
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