7.2/10
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The Lion in Winter (2003)

King Henry II meets with Eleanor of Aquitaine at Christmastide 1183 to choose one of his sons as his successor.

Director:

Andrey Konchalovskiy (as Andrei Konchalovsky)

Writers:

James Goldman (play), James Goldman (teleplay)
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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 6 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Glenn Close ... Eleanor
Andrew Howard ... Richard
Antal Konrád Antal Konrád ... Toastmaster
John Light ... Geoffrey
Soma Marko Soma Marko ... Young John
Jonathan Rhys Meyers ... Phillip
Rafe Spall ... John
Patrick Stewart ... Henry
Yuliya Vysotskaya ... Alais
Clive Wood Clive Wood ... William Marshall
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Storyline

King Henry II (Sir Patrick Stewart) keeps his wife, Eleanor (Glenn Close) locked away in the towers because of her frequent attempts to overthrow him. With Eleanor out of the way, he can have his dalliances with his young mistress (Yuliya Vysotskaya). Needless to say, the Queen is not pleased, although she still has affection for the King. Working through her sons, she plots the King's demise and the rise of her second and preferred son, Richard (Andrew Howard), to the throne. The youngest son, John (Rafe Spall), an overweight buffoon, and the only son holding his father's affection, is the King's choice after the death of his first son, young Henry. But John is also overly eager for power, and is willing to plot his father's demise with middle brother, Geoffrey (John Light) and the young King of France, Phillip (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Geoffrey, of course sees his younger brother's weakness and sees that route as his path to power.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A fearsome father. A scheming mother. Three sons battling for attention. (DVD) See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance | War

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 May 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O Leão no Inverno See more »

Filming Locations:

Budapest, Hungary See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sir Patrick Stewart played Henry's son, Richard the Lionheart, in Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). See more »

Goofs

When Richard holds the knife out to Eleanor in the dungeon, the knife reverses orientation and his grip on the handle changes between shots. See more »

Quotes

Geoffrey: I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows, and Henry knows we know it. We're a knowledgeable family.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 62nd Annual Golden Globe Awards (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Makes me wonder how Close and O'Toole might have been...
3 September 2010 | by winstonfgSee all my reviews

It's been a long time since I saw the "original" (film, that is), but I think this version stands up very well. The script, of course, is sumptuous, and the actors clearly enjoy themselves with it. The production also seems less stagey than what I remember of the 1968 version, something which is often difficult to achieve on the small screen.

For me, Glenn Close's Eleanor was superb - possibly even better than Hepburn's; but I'd have to see the original again to make sure. She interprets the transitions between scheming power-broker, desolate prisoner and wistful "ex" with a naturalness that I don't remember in the original, yet somehow still manages to deliver the comic lines (and there are plenty) with the timing of a master. And there were only a couple of occasions when I detected any hint of Hepburn's shadow.

As for Henry: I like Patrick Stewart a lot, but I'm not sure this was his role. He's always seemed a little brittle when it comes to passion; and if there's one thing Henry was, it was passionate. There are also times when he comes across as declamatory (probably the Shakespearean training) and, while O'Toole could probably be accused of the same thing, I missed his energy. It's also plain that he is older than Close, when in fact Henry was 11 years younger than Eleanor (and that was a lot in those days). That said, he makes a good fist of it; and some of the exchanges between the two of them are memorable.

Where this production really scores though is in its drawing of the smaller characters. I hardly even remember what the sons were like in the original, but here they all have distinct personas; with Andrew Howard's Richard the standout. Rafe Spall even manages to flesh out the character of John - by James Goldman's own admission, the worst written of all of them - and John Light's unloved, Machiavellian Geoffrey is perfectly believable. Johnathan Rhys-Myers' ambivalent Philip also hints at the savvy of a man who would go on to become one of France's greatest kings. Only Yuliya Vysotskaya, as Alys, seemed slightly weak - too timid for a princess of France for me - but that probably has more to do with the script than anything.

Maybe I'm just a sucker for historical drama, but I thought this was an excellent (and brave, considering the original) effort at depicting two of the most powerful and interesting figures of their time.

9/10


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