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Lion in Winter
/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 128 mins . PG . PAL


The Lion in Winter is a wordy historical drama which people thought was really very clever and intelligent at the time of its release.

But that was back in 1968. Back then, the dialogue, written with 1968 hip-sensibilities firmly in mind, seemed very cool. Now the whole thing comes across as a turgid, flaccid, over-written bit of schmuck.

Edward Albee did this sort of dialogue brilliantly in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. But transplant the same concepts to the age of Henry II and Eleanor of Acquitaine, and the result is a film which drones on interminably, as Henry and Eleanor plot and scheme to decide who will succeed Henry as King.

Peter O'Toole as Henry is pretty bearable -- it's hard for him not to rise above a poor script. Katherine Hepburn? Well, she's Katherine Hepburn. You see her a couple of times, and you know everything she's capable of. Just get The Philadelphia Story and The African Queen and you have everything of hers you will ever need.

Anthony Hopkins is featured as Richard, the son who will become King. And considering what a great job he did later in his career in The Silence of the Lambs and other movies of that era, it's a real surprise how bad he is in this ... it's one-dimensional ranting and raving, boyo, in the best professional-Welsh style.

This has a PG-rating, which simply means that if children watch, keep an eye on them to catch them as they topple off the couch.


The quality is great, especially in the lush European exteriors. Down in the cellars things get pretty murky but the crisp anamorphic transfer keeps details to the fore.

The soundtrack is decent stereo, which gives good reproduction of what was recorded in those pre-Surround days.

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  •   And I quote...
    "This garnered critical accolades back in 1968. Now it comes across as a boring, droning historical talk-fest. "
    - Anthony Clarke
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