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.
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
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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