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The Lion in Winter (1968)

PG  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  30 October 1968 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 22,284 users  
Reviews: 169 user | 34 critic

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.



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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?


Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe worked out a rich lighting pattern that was meant to give the film the look of illuminated manuscripts from the historical period. See more »


After John goes out of the room, Eleanor stands up and talks to Geoffrey gesticulating with her right hand about her neck. Next shot her right hand is lower, about her belly. See more »


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


Follows Becket (1964) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The two most powerful people in the world
4 December 2004 | by (Watsonville, California) – See all my reviews

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.

26 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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