Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Lion in Winter

King Henry II, settled into middle age but not yet willing to chose a successor, summons his wife from prison, where she is serving time for plotting against him with their son. Now, with the King of Phillip in tow, who hopes to precure a husband for his sister, who also serves as Henry's mistress, the exiled Queen begins to stir the pot and urge Henry's three sons to seize the throne. "The Lion in Winter" is a spectacular screen adaptation of James Goldman's stage play by director Anthony Harvey who wonderfully opens up this intelligent material for the screen. Reprising his role from "Becket", Peter O'Toole plays an older and wiser, yet no less thunderous Henry II, and it is remarkable just how different these two powerful performances are. Katharine Hepburn is equally fine in one of her Oscar winning roles as his treacherous wife and the scenes they share together, particularly the closing ones, are truly a wonder to watch. The supporting parts are also great, with Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton both shining in early roles. "The Lion in Winter" is literate, powerful, and impeccably acted entertainment.