The loons are back again on Golden Pond and so are Norman Thayer, a retired professor, and Ethel who have had a summer cottage there since early in their marriage. This summer their ... See full summary »
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
The song Alais sings while Henry is fighting John is called "Allon, Gay Bergeres." This chanson was written by Guillaume Costeley during the Renaissance, nearly 400 years after the events in the movie take place. See more »
I was just watching this again on PBS, maybe the 4th or 5th time I've seen this one. I've also seen the play performed and the TV remake. That last is also a worthwhile interpretation -- I even think Patrick Stewart did a better Henry. He showed more of the pure self possessed confidence and power. But Close and the other actors were not nearly as memorable as this cast, with the possible exception of unknown Soma Marko's completely vile moron John (he really shows us why he became the villain of the Robin Hood legends.) This 1968 cast included a brilliant young Anthony Hopkins as the deeply troubled Richard and a delightfully slimy Timothy Dalton as King Phillip of France.
But these are mere bit players opposite two of the greatest characters of their time. The second Welsh Plantagenet took one of the most beautiful, powerful and intellectual women of all from the King of France, (and some say his own father) It was one of the greatest love stories of all time between the two most dynamic individuals of their era. And this is what it's all about and what makes this play and this movie work. Each was really the only one the other could ever really love. Nobody else in their time even came close. And only a Hepburn could pull off Elenore of Aquitaine.
I still like Stewart's Henry better because he gave me more of the Henry we know from History as a completely fearless dynamic powerful King who could do and have
anything he wanted. Even though her youthful beauty had faded, Elenore as always the great love and the only woman who could ever have been his equal. So despite all the scheming, infidelity and dysfunctional family betrayal, those two will always be one of the great matches of history right next to Caesar and Cleopatra. That's what this play is all about and why this cast's rendition will aways remain a classic.
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