Saturday, December 24, 2011
The Lion in Winter (1968 film)
The Lion in Winter starring Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn has to be THE BEST anti-Christmas movie that was ever produced. Now don't get your pantaloons in a knot when I say anti-Christmas. I don't mean anti in the sense that it is opposed to the Christmas season. I mean that it is not like the normal "warm and fuzzy" holiday movies.
Apart from Peter O'Toole's beard, there is nothing "warm and fuzzy" about this movie. Here is possibly the most dysfunctional family in the history of dysfunctional families. Hell, they make the Kardashians look like the Waltons.
Okay, that's stretching it perhaps but you get the idea.
The story is set in Christmastide 1183. Henry Plantagenet's (or Henry II) sons all want to kill him and the feeling is mutal. He has locked his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine Salisbury Tower at Windsor Castle and only brings her out at the Holiday Season.
Eleanor wants her eldest son Richard to succeed Henry on the throne but Henry wishes his youngest son John on the throne because he has arranged for John to marry his own mistress Alais.
Yes you read that right. Prince John was going to marry Henry II's mistress.
Although the movie itself is historically inaccurate. The first Christmas tree wasn't used till 1441 (this movie takes place in 1183) and gift giving was not re-instated till a later date. Christmas gift giving was banned by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages due to its suspected pagan origins. And none of the dialogue and actions in the film were not historical.
But that doesn't make it a bad film. Both a stellar starring cast and some really great lines make this a great film.
Peter O'Toole as Henry II and Katherine Heburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine shine in this film. The barbs the two throw at one another just keep you glued to your seat. They work so well together that you forget there was a huge age difference existed between the two.
You also get the opportunity to see a very young Sir Anthony Hopkins as Richard (future king of England) and Timothy Dalton as King Philip II of France. Both in their motion picture debuts.
That's what a good film should. The performances are so good that you immediately forget about some of the films technical shortcomings.
If you're sick of the usual Christmas type movies and want to see something different this year. Why not pop A Lion in Winter into the old DVD player. Perhaps it doesn't have the happy ending of the normal Christmas films. However, the ending should leave you amused.