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The Lion in Winter

 (1,160)
7.92 h 14 min196812
Award-winning drama set in the royal court, starring Peter O'Toole, Anthony Hopkins and Katharine Hepburn in dazzling, Oscar winning form. The 12th century, and the obsession of Henry II of England to find a successor, after the death of the heir to the throne, causes him, one Christmas, to summon his three remaining sons.
Directors
Anthony Harvey
Starring
Peter O'TooleKatharine HepburnAnthony Hopkins
Genres
Drama
Subtitles
None Available
Audio Languages
English
Rentals include 30 days to start watching this video and 48 hours to finish once started.
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More details

Supporting actors
Jane MerrowJohn CastleTimothy DaltonNigel StockNigel Terry
Producers
Martin Poll
Studio
STUDIOCANAL Ltd
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

1160 global ratings

  1. 70% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 14% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 7% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 5% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

coraReviewed in the United Kingdom on 03 May 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Henry and Eleanor Have the Marriage from Hell, O'Toole and Hepburn are a Match Made in Heaven
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I have been watching a lot of old favourites from the 1960s and 70s lately. And not all of them have aged well. However, this film was a masterpiece back then and it still is today. It is one of those rare films which have not lost any of their appeal 50 years later. The DVD I bought is perfectly serviceable, both picture and sound quality are perfectly adequate. However, the recent digitally restored version of the film is by all acounts a massive improvement.

The film is based on a play and while the sets in the stark and forbidding castle are wonderfully evocative and probably quite near the truth, it is the outstanding performances of the cast, especially the two leads, that make this film so enjoyable. The film score by John Barry is excellent and really does add to the medieval feel of the film.

It is Christmas 1163 and king Henry II (Peter O'Toole) has let his wife Eleanor (Katharine Hepburn) out of prison so she can join the family for the holidays. Their three sons are present, Henry flaunts his young mistress in Eleanor's face, and Philip, the young king of France, is also expected. Henry wants to settle the question of who will succeed him to the throne and everybody is plotting and scheming and forming and breaking alliances with everybody else.

Both O'Toole and Hepburn are on top form and deliver every line of the razor sharp script to perfection. Anthony Hopkins makes his big screen debut as Henry's son Richard, the man who wants to be loved by everybody and is loved by nobody, John Castle is just too delicious as the devious Geoffrey, the clever middle son despised by everybody and who, in turn, despises everybody else. Timothy Dalton (also making his big screen debut in this film) is rather magnificent as the cocky young King Philip. Somewhat less impressive is John Terry as the simple prince John, but he does provide a bit of comic relief in this dark tale of power and deceit.

Wonderful film, wonderful cast, highly remcommended all round.
14 people found this helpful
Francesca BellamyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 31 October 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Brilliant! (Spoiler alert).
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I have seen this film more times than I care to remember, but I never grow tired of watching it. Pairing Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn was a stroke of genius. The year is 1183, it is Christmas and King Henry the Second has gathered his warring family together, which consists of his Queen consort, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and his three sons, John, Richard and Geoffrey.
To say that this family are dysfunctional would be the understatement of the century. Henry is intent on making his favourite son John his successor, whereas Eleanor is determined that HER favourite son Richard will be the next king. Geoffrey is the son who neither parent is particularly fond of, treating him at best with indifference and at worst with outright contempt. This has made Geoffrey bitter, sly and very dangerous. The culmination of this hotbed of naked ambition, greed, jealousy, rivalry and hatred reaches its zenith when henry, with dagger in hand, challenges his three sons to a fight to the death, daring them to kill him as Eleanor watches. In the end, no-one dies, but both Henry and Eleanor, in a highly emotional scene, survey the wreckage of their lives and confront their personal failures, both as parents and as two of the most powerful rulers in the history of European royalty, and perhaps even beyond that.
Finally, Eleanor confesses to Henry what has been the true driving force behind her dogged and at times frenzied battle of wits against him, and it has nothing to do with the quest for Kingdoms, power, land or wealth........it is much simpler and more heart-breaking than that: Eleanor had never gotten over the fact that Henry had fallen out of love with her and cast her aside for another woman, and it is this scene, stunningly played by Hepburn, which at last allows us to glimpse the woman behind the warrior queen. This confession to Henry makes the king see his wife, consort and bitter enemy in a new and sympathetic light. To watch both Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn on screen together, in a scene such as this, is electrifying. You quite literally can not drag your eyes away from them. I highly recommend this masterpiece. If you have never seen this film, you are in for a delight of the senses.
BobHReviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 October 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
‘Give me excess of it’ (Shakespeare: ‘Twelth Night’
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I first saw ‘The Lion in Winter’(1968) during its first release, largely because its subject matter related to about 25% of my university studies. Now viewing the DVD almost 50 years later I don’t think my views have greatly changed.

In sum, the film goes wildly over the top and there’s the joy init. The cine-photography is first rate and the musical score (dominated by the massed choirs and full orchestras popular at the time) backs up the impact of the settings. The Chateau de Chinon I visited a few years ago would have been dwarfed by some of the depiction of the structure in the film (e.g. the dungeon in which ‘the boys’ are confined) and which certainly has a garrison exceeding what would have been expected, but then it’s also moved closer to the river.

The characterisation of the leading players is strongly drawn. Henry II (Peter O’Toole) and Queen Eleanor (Katherine Hepburn - please ignore the occasional ‘accent’) rage at each other and the world; it becomes clear that love has shrunk simply to the need to relate, if only through quarrels and plotting. Richard (Anthony Hopkins) has become imprisoned by his ‘soldier-masque’ (perhaps the most historically accurate portrayal of all), Geoffrey (John Castle) is a cowardly schemer (perhaps with excessive Machiavellian motivation for the real Duke of Brittany, even as described by Gerald of Wales) and John (Nigel Terry) is a feeble, headstrong wretch (not consistent with the unsuccessful manipulator appearing in modern historical studies not resting on the biographies of chroniclers such as Matthew Paris). Philip II of France (Timothy Dalton) - normally styled Philip Augustus - displays the guile which must have existed within the monarch who repossessed almost half of the Angevin lands in France twenty-odd years after the setting of the film (Christmas 1183). Even Alais ( in reality ‘Alys) has some fine speeches even though, as in reality, she remains a pawn. All the actors deliver to the full the exciting and dramatic screenplay by James Goldman. Is the text enhanced by the inclusion of several anachronisms ( e.g. ‘wait ten minutes’, ‘my finest angle - it’s on all the coins’) as well as how they all can read & write {note the schoolboy howler of ‘King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215’) and employ a style POSSIBLY unknown then (e.g. ‘Geoff’)? I’m inclined to think it serves the purpose of revealing a family at war for a modern audience. I must add one of my favourite illustrations of this: ‘ Henry II: I marvel at you after all these years. Still like a democratic drawbridge: going down for everybody. Eleanor: At my age there's not much traffic anymore.’

As far as I know the events as displayed at Chinon never happened but the family certainly warred against each other. Side-references - e.g. of ‘the Young King’ (the first born son who died in 1183) and the personality of Louis VII (Eleanor’s first husband whom she cuckolded during the Second Crusade) - appear accurate, even if relying on the veracity of 12th century chroniclers. Eleanor (a remarkable woman in many respects) was indeed imprisoned for 16 years, but remained ‘difficult’ right up till her death in 1204. Henry (despite O’Toole’s blustering of a strength he never possessed) in reality could be headstrong (note the relations with Becket) which, if one follows the chroniclers, appears to be a characteristic expected in the 12th century. Ironically the remains of Henry, Eleanor and Richard are all to be found at Fontevraud, perhaps there really is ‘laughter in heaven’.

Despite the criticisms above I thoroughly enjoyed the film and wholeheartedly award it 4 stars.
8 people found this helpful
ClementinaReviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 February 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
Has not stood the test of time well.
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I had high hopes for this. I bought it after reading that Hepburn got an Oscar for her portrayal of Eleanor of Aquitaine and also reading the positive reviews but those were in 1968 and I don’t think the film has stood the test of time. Despite the fact that I was extremely interested to watch the film because of the historical time period and Henry II’s reign, I had to stop watching mid way through because the characters mostly shouted their parts especially O’Toole, Hopkins and the actor playing John. The sets looked fake and I could not understand why Hepburn won an Oscar for her part. Perhaps if I had made it all the way through, I’d have understood.

On a positive note, I think it is brilliant that one can order a video on Amazon Prime from your Telly and then have it a few moments later to watch.

CP
2 people found this helpful
Ms J WorrallReviewed in the United Kingdom on 06 March 2022
3.0 out of 5 stars
Showing its age and its roots as a stage play, but two magnificent performances
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Peter O'Toole is magnificent as the irascible and contrary Henry II and is the main reason to watch this rather overblown version of history. Katherine Hepburn is also excellent, but for me O'Toole proves again what an amazing actor he is, making the character and somewhat literary dialogue completely convincing...which is quite a feat considering how much raging goes on which could have been just noise. Anthony Hopkins also stand out as Richard in his first main role. Worth watching for O'Toole, but otherwise not as gripping as the film made four years earlier when O'Toole played Henry opposite Richard Burton in Beckett.
One person found this helpful
wyegirlReviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 November 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Ageless item.
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What a treat to view Peter O Toole & Katherine Hepburn at the height of their superb powers, coupled with youthful Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton stealing the occasional scene. This is one of those peerless films in which viewers could not imagine any other cast members replacing the ones chosen. Marvellous.
2 people found this helpful
GainsboroughReviewed in the United Kingdom on 04 September 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Award winning historical drama set in the Royal Court of Henry II.
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Historical drama set around Xmas 1183 about political and personal turmoil among the royal family of Henry II of England and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine their children and guests. Starring Peter O'Toole, Anthony Hopkins and Katharine Hepburn in dazzling form as relationships explode in this truly dysfunctional family.
JPSReviewed in the United Kingdom on 16 December 2013
4.0 out of 5 stars
Still superb with remarkable performances from the main actors
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This film was adapted from James Goldman's play that bears the same title. He also did the film's screenplay, with the film being directed by Anthony Harvey. This shows throughout the film, although you (or, I, at least) do not mind the theatrical scenes, given the rather superb dialogues and psychological warfare going on between the characters, and especially the two main ones: the old King, Henry II (Peter O'Toole) and his fiery, estranged and imprisoned wife Alienor, Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right.

The title of the film (and of the play) refers to the ageing Henry II, King of what some historians have called "the Angevine Empire". In addition to England and parts of Wales and Ireland, it also included most of France; far more of it than what the King of France, to whom Henry owed homage, had himself.

The film's strongest point lays in its constant scheming and verbal warfare, in an atmosphere of utter distrust between just about all the protagonists including Henry and Alienor's three surviving sons (Richard, Geoffrey and John), and Philip, the newly crowned King of France. The action takes place at Christmas, at the castle of Chinon, where Henry has conveyed all the others to let them know who will succeed him, how his vast lands will be shared out and whether, at last, young Alice (the elder sister of the King of France but whom Henry had made into his mistress) will be married of to the heir of the Angevine Empire.

The dominant theme across the whole film is the love/hate relationships and selfish interests between the various members of the Plantagenet dynasty. As for Philip (played by a very young Timothy Dalton), there is in reality only hate as he is forced to compose with his more powerful vassals and tries to pit them against each other. The whole play is a collection of devious plots with just about everyone betraying everyone else.

The central characters are the ageing Henry II and Alienor (superbly played by Katharine Hepburn) who fight against each other like cat and dog all the time, shifting from tenderness, to spite and fury to regrets without anyone knowing for sure when they are really being sincere. Together, they manage to hurt just about everyone else, starting with their sons and including each other. The only character that comes out as being somewhat sympathetic is Alice, probably because she is an unwilling pawn in what is a theatrical and superb "Games of Thrones".

The characters of the sons are more contrasted. While Richard the soldier (played by a young Anthony Hopkins) is shown as tormented and used by his mother against his father who knows he is the best of the litter, Geoffrey is devious and cunning, and suffers from his parents' indifference. John, however, is a bit of a caricature and shown as a wimp, according to the traditional portrait of him. Although erratic and not as strong willed as his brothers, he may have not been the utter coward and incompetent that he shown to be in the film.

Four solid stars
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