The Lion in Winter (1968)

 (2,024)7.92 h 14 min1968X-RayPG
An ageing King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) looks to name his successor, however, palace politics create animosity amongst the Royals, with perilous consequences.
Anthony Harvey
Peter O'TooleKatharine HepburnTimothy Dalton
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Anthony Hopkins
Martin Poll
Avco Embassy Pictures (U.K.) Ltd.
PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
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4.8 out of 5 stars

2024 global ratings

  1. 87% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 8% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 3% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 1% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

James MorrisReviewed in the United States on March 17, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
As Brilliant As Ever! My Favorite Film.
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This review is for the 50th Anniversary Restored Blu-Ray Edition of The Lion in Winter.

I have waited for a remastered, English-subtitled release of this glorious film for years. First, a few words about this edition. The film has received careful remastering, and the picture and sound put one in mind of a new film, let alone a 50-year-old classic. The picture is glorious and the sound magnificent. And the subtitles! Unlike many subtitles, the English subtitles for this edition follow the script exactly and, in fact, the timing of the subtitles even match the delivery of the lines! I could not ask for more, and I expected a lot.

I suppose it’s not a coincidence, but the play and screenplay of my favorite film (The Lion in Winter) and the book of my favorite Broadway musical (Follies) were both written by the same man – James Goldman. And what writing it is! The Lion in Winter is not so much a script, as it is a celebration of the English language. In reviewing the play, one critic said, “The Lion in Winter has more wit in every speech than most so-called comedies have in an entire evening.”

By the way, for those who don’t get it, The Lion in Winter is a comedy. A comedy about a dysfunctional family. Many people completely miss the point and think that this is simply a period drama. It is not. If sarcasm, wit and amazing use of the English language are your thing, then this film is for you. Of course, no one spoke that way in the late twelfth century. But the fact that it is written in modern language just adds to the humor of the piece. This has been my favorite film since I first saw it, just a few years after its initial release, and even though I have seen it at least forty times, I never tire of the wit, the conflict and the often-subtle humor of the screenplay. As many people know, Katherine Hepburn won her third Academy award for this film, and it won two more (screenplay and original score), besides being nominated for a total of seven Oscars. In addition to the magnificent performances of Hepburn and Peter O’Toole, it’s fun today to see a practically unrecognizable Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton at the dawn of their careers.

It’s possible that someday, another film will come along to usurp The Lion in Winter’s position as my all-time favorite film. But until then, and even then, I will never stop singing its praises. Very, very highly recommended.
83 people found this helpful
Allen SmallingReviewed in the United States on May 25, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Superlative acting, drama, dialog and wit all in one movie
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Here's a tremendous movie from 1968, a real classic, and at a great price. Katharine Hepburn plays her age and Peter O'Toole plays over his age as the mismatched Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II. So mismatched that he has had her thrown into prison and let her out only because Christmas 1183 is at hand. Their three sons (played by Anthony Hopkins, John Castle and Nigel Terry) contend for Henry's considerable lands in England and France after he is gone. A foil is introduced -- the French King, played by a very young Timothy Dalton.

This film has it all -- great performances by a great cast at various stages in their careers, familial conflict, historic conflict (the eldest son, Richard (known to history as Richard the Lion-Heart) is gay, or at least seriously smitten with the King of France), wonderful dialog and no small amount of wit (Eleanor on her role in a prior Crusade: "I rode bare-breasted halfway to Damascus. The troops were dazzled. I damn near died of windburn"). Impressive but realistic medieval locations and powerful choral music add to the overall excellence of this production. At this price, everyone should have THE LION IN WINTER in their home theater.
31 people found this helpful
Ron RivesReviewed in the United States on December 11, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Rare Combination of great acting, action and dialog
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Peter O'Toole is the only actor to have been nominated for an academy award twice for playing the same character (Henry II) in two different movies: this and in "Becket", We have aging Henry II who desires above all to marry his ward, the French king's sister. Meanwhile he contends with three sons all of who whom desire to be the next king, including an unexpectedly complex Richard the Lion Hearted (Antony Hopkins). Mix in the brilliant Katherine Hepburn as Henry's queen, Elenore of Aquitaine, and the King of France, Robert Dalton Serious damage is done to the Christmas spirit in Henry's palace. The most delicious moment in the movie follows a fight between Elenore and Henry. Henry gleefully tells his wife how he will relish locking her away forever. Elenore interrupts to describe in detail how she made love to Henry's father. ("I can feel his arms around me... etc.") As Henry crawls out of the room while moaning, Elenore states," Oh well. I guess every family has its little ups and downs." This film has few downs and lots of ups.
3 people found this helpful
Kevin BrayReviewed in the United States on April 21, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Rightful Classic Gets a Terrific Blu-Ray Treatment
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One of the most well-written films I've ever seen. The Blu-Ray video quality is superb here, and despite the intentionally subdued color palette and candle-lighting of the interior photography, the color is well-saturated with clean whites and blacks, as well as consistent grain. The sound is excellent; dialogue and music are clear and crisp. This classic film has been lovingly restored, and the results are very pleasing, indeed. This is a no-risk buy for a high definition transfer that is quite nicely done.
15 people found this helpful
Jamie JenkinsReviewed in the United States on February 27, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Katherine just kills it...
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I was nervous to watch this film... I wasn't sure if its age would help or harm it... but so glad I did!!! While I didn't particularly care for Peter O'Toole in this role (overdone, IMO), Katherine Hepburn is absolutely splendid!!!! Her dry wit, sarcasm and impeccable timing makes this movie a classic. I truly hope Eleanor of Aquitane was half this feisty and strong... what a character! This film is a comedy as much a period drama... I'm sure it wasn't funny at all back in the day, but look how absolutely absurd and sad the whole situation was... talk about the original dysfunctional family! PLEASE watch this show, if for nothing else than to relish in the fine acting of KH!
6 people found this helpful
Mitch PeraReviewed in the United States on April 4, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Katherine Hepburn's Greatest Work of Movie Genius
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What do you say about one of the greatest movies of all time FINALLY coming to Blu ray? You say, "Lord in heaven, what took you so long?!" Still, no format of any kind ever dimmed two of the single most brilliant screen performances in history, Katherine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. Ms. Hepburn brings a gorgeous, regal, dichotomous, vulnerable, and ruthless power to the life of an early very substantive "landed" queen of England; Mr. O'Toole, nearly ruthless throughout (with touches of his own form of vulnerability), is a non-stop tour de force of what a king in his times likely had to be to hold the throne of a developing but still fractured country. All of the supporting performances - incidentally, the premiers of Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton, to name a few - are as flawless as their megastar counterparts. The movie, however, belongs to every single scene the powerful and utterly captivating Hepburn marches or gently slides into. She is shimmering.
5 people found this helpful
Elisabeth WheatleyReviewed in the United States on December 25, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Perfect movie to watch before seeing your family for the holidays
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If, like me, you were less than excited at the prospect of upcoming holiday get-togethers, this movie is the perfect precursor to all your family gatherings.

My family and I may have our unresolved drama, but at least my brothers and I aren't fighting over who gets to marry our dad's girlfriend whilst our mom taunts him with the fact she may or may not have shagged grandpa. Worst case scenario, I get written out of the will, not locked in a wine cellar for an indeterminate length of time until execution.

After watching this, I realize that verbal criticisms of my life choices and general existence are not all that bad when compared to multi-generational dynastic warfare. An excellent way to put family squabbles into perspective.
Clarke DunhamReviewed in the United States on March 18, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
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As a set designer, I've designed four very different productions of "Lion", some with stars a great as George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst in the leading roles. I was still totally blown away with the performances in this film. A disaster was averted by having the playwright himself do the brilliant movie adaptation. The intentions are all the same as the play's, but done in vivid cinematic terms. The combination of a solid screenplay, solid direction and incredible performances both help to tell that story differently, but in perfect cinematic language. Everyone in the film gives a star performance. From top to bottom there's not a false note. A film to cherish!
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