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It's Christmas 1183, and King Henry II is planning to announce his successor to the throne. The jockeying for the crown, though, is complex. Henry has three sons and wants his boy Prince John to take over. Henry's wife, Queen Eleanor, has other ideas. She believes their son Prince Richard should be king. As the family and various schemers gather for the holiday, each tries to make the indecisive king choose their option. Written by
At one point Eleanor states that the year is 1183. At another point Henry II claims "I'm 50 now! Good God, boy. I'm the oldest man I know. I've got a decade on the Pope!" However, the pope in 1183 was Lucius III who was born in Lucca Italy in 1097. Henry II was born on 5 March 1133, making him 36 years younger than the pope. See more »
What were those Academy fools thinking?! They ignore a powerhouse performance by Peter O'Toole and trounce Anthony Harvey's inspiring direction! But the final indignity was in giving the best picture award to an over-praised, undeserving, insignificant musical called OLIVER! If they had a least half a brain in their heads they could've given to FUNNY GIRL but they only shoot themselves in the foot when the deserving go unrecognized. It only goes to show the Academy's just jealous. The script and Kate's performance at least were given the royal treatment but it still leaves bitter resentment when Cliff Roberston, one of Hollywood's most less-than-adequate actors cops the best actor away from O'Toole... possibly Hollywood's most underrated, not to mention unrecognized actors of the highest caliber. Hepburn's Eleanor of Aquitaine had witty lines, quiet but still present anger and fire underneath the surface but O'Toole as Henry II gave the more powerful performance... an aesthetic that echoed Taylor and Burton for WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? only Taylor was the gutsy performer and Burton doled out the cut-lows and the intellect. To coin a phrase from the British... "he (O'Toole) was bloody robbed!"
The story is set in Britain, 1183. Henry II is on the throne and has ten years earlier imprisoned his wife Eleanor of Acquitaine after co-conspirating a civil war against him. She and their three sons (Richard, the eldest, a brave warrior on the battlefield, whom Eleanor wants to succeed Henry as king; Geoffrey, the quietly vicious, unappreciated middle son of whom neither of them love with a plot for every occurrence and John, the piggish, dirty, thieving brat is their youngest whom Henry for some unknown reason wants on the throne) are all requested to appear at their palace of Chinon for the Christmas holidays. Also invited is young King Philip II of France whose elder sister Alais is the treasured and much-loved mistress to Henry. Philip wishes to have Alais mearried off to one of Henry's sons (preferably Richard) in order to form an alliance between England and France made between Henry and Philip's father, the late King Louis. But meanwhile, Philip is also plotting with all three boys and Eleanor to tear Henry's kingdom apart. Eleanor is merely in on it to get back at Henry for loving Alais (whom she had raised as a surrogate daughter) and the late Rosmund, an old rival of Eleanor's whom Henry replaced her with.
This film has it all: infidelity, betrayal, family dysfunction and a script that crackles with venom, wit and plot-twisting motivation. See it if only for O'Toole and Hepburn's first-rate performances.
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