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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Lion in Winter can be found here.
To "celebrate" Christmas in 1183 AD, England's King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) invites his exiled wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn), and his three sons—Richard (Anthony Hopkins), Geoffrey (John Castle), and John (Nigel Terry)—to spend the holiday with him and his mistress Princess Alais (Jane Merrow) and her brother King Phillip II of France (Timothy Dalton) in order to determine which of his sons is worthy of his crown. Henry prefers John while Eleanor prefers Richard, and the "holiday" becomes a battle of double-dealing and treachery.
The Lion in Winter was originally an award-winning Broadway play written in 1966 by James Goldman, who adapted it for the 1968 film. A TV remake, also titled The Lion in Winter, was released in 2003.
Aquitaine is a region in southwestern France, bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and on the south by the Pyrenees, a mountain range on the border with Spain.
Eleanor takes daggers down to her sons in the cellar and tells them to escape, but, to Eleanor's horror, they decide instead to kill their father. When Henry brings them candles to light the darkness, Richard attacks him. Henry fights back, eventually pinning John to the ground. Eleanor urges Henry to kill them, calling them "assassins" and their actions "treason". Henry pulls out his sword and condemns his sons to death but finds that he cannot kill them. Instead, he breaks down, lets them go, and dismisses Alais. With tears in her eyes, Eleanor confesses her great love for Henry along with her great despair at knowing she can never get him back. In the final scene, Henry escorts Eleanor to her barge, and says his final words, "I hope we never die...do you think there's any chance of it?" With that, they laugh and wave goodbye to each other.
While all of the main characters existed and their backgrounds are largely accurate, the events portrayed in the film are fictional.
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