The Lion in winter

The Lion in Winter ( The Lion in Winter ) is a British film directed by Anthony Harvey , released in 1968 .

It is the adaptation of the stage play American of James Goldman created Broadway in 1966 , The Lion in Winter  (in) .


Unchained intrigues romanticized around the problem of the succession of Henry II of England at Christmas time 1183 . We are in the courtyard of the castle of Chinon where Henri II resides with his mistress Adèle de France ( aka Alix) while she is engaged to one of the sons of the king, Richard (future Lionheart) .

Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine , wife of Henry II and mother of their three sons, imprisoned for several years by her husband for conspiring against him, is temporarily released by him to study together which of their three sons would be the ideal successor to the throne. The sons are therefore invited: Prince Richard, Duke Geoffroy II of Brittany and Prince Jean (future John Lackland) . King Philip II of France ( aka Philippe Auguste) is also invited. He is the half-brother of Alix , both children of Louis VII the Younger , King of France, and former husband of Eleanor, but neither come from their union.

The decision will prove difficult given the stakes and the dissensions that exist in the family. Henry refuses that the kingdom he will leave after his death be divided and therefore wants only one heir, and he has a preference for his son John. Aliénor, who experiences a mixture of love and hatred for her husband, gives her preference to Richard. Geoffroy, who does not have the favors of any of his parents, conspires on his side.

The alliances of circumstances follow one another, but when Henri discovers that even John is plotting against him, he decides to repudiate Aliénor to marry Alix to design a new heir. He imprisoned his sons, and prepared to leave for Rome where the pope resided, the only one who could authorize a new marriage. But, a little later, he frees his sons and abandons his project of remarriage. Aliénor returns to his prison, and the succession remains in suspense.

Technical sheet

  • Original title: The Lion in Winter
  • French title: Le Lion en hiver 1
  • Director: Anthony Harvey
  • Assistants Achievement: Kip Gowans, Burgess Al, Patrick O’brien 2
  • Scenario: James Goldman based on his play, The Lion in Winter
  • Artistic direction: Peter Murton
    • Decors (France): Gilbert Margerie 2
    • Decor Assistant: Ted Clements 2
  • Costumes: Margaret Furse
  • Makeup: Bill Lodge
  • Hairstyles: AG Scott
  • Photography: Douglas Slocombe
  • Sound: Simon Kaye, Chris Greenham (sound editing)
  • Editing: John Bloom
  • Music: John Barry
  • Producer: Martin Poll
  • Associate producer: Jane C. Nusbaum
  • Executive Producer: Joseph E. Levine
  • Production Manager: Basil Appleby 2
  • Production Managers in France: Victor Merenda, René Brun 2
  • Production Companies: AVCO Embassy (United Kingdom), Haworth Productions (United Kingdom)
  • Distribution Companies: AVCO Embassy (United Kingdom), 20th Century Fox France , Les Acacias (France), Tamasa Distribution (France)
  • Country of origin: United Kingdom
  • Original language: English
  • Format: color by Eastmancolor – Panavision :
    – 35mm version – 2.35: 1 – monophonic sound
    – 70mm version – 2.20: 1 – 6-track stereo sound
  • Genre: drama , historical film
  • Duration: 136 3 ↔128 minutes
  • Release dates:  ,  ,  
  • (en) CNC classification : all public (operating visa o 36313 issued)


  • Peter O’Toole (VF: René Arrieu ) : King Henry II of England
  • Katharine Hepburn (VF: Jacqueline Porel ) : Aliénor of Aquitaine
  • Anthony Hopkins (VF: Denis Savignat ) : Richard (future Lionheart)
  • John Castle : Geoffroy
  • Nigel Terry : Jean
  • Timothy Dalton (VF: Bernard Murat ) : King Philip II of France (Philippe Auguste)
  • Jane Merrow : Alix
  • Nigel Stock (VF: Albert Augier ) : William the Marshal
  • Kenneth Ives : The Guardian of Queen Aliénor
  • OZ Whitehead : The Bishop of Durham


Scenario and dialogs

  • In one scene, Aliénor d’Aquitaine tells Philip II that she could have been his mother. This is a reality since Louis VII was indeed his first husband. Alix was born from the second wife of Louis VII and Philip II of the third. Eleanor’s marriage to the King of France was canceled because she was apparently unable to have sons. She had five with Henry II, two of whom had already died at Christmas 1183 when the action unfolds.
  • On the other hand, there are some historical errors in the movie:
    • In one scene, Henry II declares that he is fifty years old and that he is ten years older than the pope. If the king of England was indeed fifty years old in 1183, the pope of the time, Lucius III , was born in Lucca in 1097 . He was 86 years old in 1183.
    • Aliénor d’Aquitaine pronounces the word syphilis in a scene. Syphilis did not appear in Europe until 1494, and the term was only used for the first time after 1530 .
    • There is a Christmas tree in the Chinon Palace . However, the Christmas tree became a custom only at the very end of the Middle Ages.


  • It is thanks to the endorsement of Katharine Hepburn , during the casting, that Anthony Hopkins was retained for the role of Richard and thus made his film debut.
  • This is the second time Peter O’Toole has interpreted the role of King Henry II . The first time was in the film Becket in 1964 .
  • This is Timothy Dalton’s first role in a movie.


  • Interiors: Ardmore Studios Bray ( Ireland ).
  • Outside:
    • France : Abbey of Montmajour , Tarascon ( Bouches-du-Rhone ), City of Carcassonne ( Aude ).
    • United Kingdom : Wales .
  • In the film, the Rhone and its banks are used as decor Vienna and its banks, such as the director (and historians?) Imagined them to be the xii th century. These Provencal shores have the advantage of being little built, because flood, hence the interest to shoot there evoking the uninhabited medieval banks of Chinon in winter.
  • The castle with its dungeon that can be seen at the top of a hill during the scenes of Aliénor in his boat is that of Beaucaire (Gard) .
  • Some scenes are shot around and in the city of Carcassonne .
  • Katharine Hepburn 4 : “The film was shot in Montmajour Abbey . […] The abbey of Montmajour was a center of interest – partly in ruins, partly rebuilt by us, with a nice garden and several large rooms. Some cells in the cellar part. […] There was a big boat scene on the Rhone that we were supposed to go down. The river was in flood. Rehearsal one afternoon and shoot the next morning. Except that at night, the pier where we had to dock had been completely submerged. We shot lower, under a terrible wind. I was in my finery. I looked at one of my suite members, in full armor, and said, “I hope all these things are detachable. Otherwise, when we are going to capsize, you are sure to sink. Me, I know that I can get out of all these beautiful clothes. I’ll just have to dive and swim to the shore, naked. It hurt him. Which I can not blame him. All this was very funny and the shooting of the film was sublime.
    We went to various places, including Tarascon , for the scenes of the end. […] Anthony Harvey, he ended up in the hospital with hepatitis. He was very sick, but he got up to finish the movie. I must say that he did a good job. A great talent. “



  •  British Society of Cinematographers 1968 : prize for best photography at Douglas Slocombe
  •  New York Film Critics Circle Awards 1968 :
    • Best Film Award
    • Best Screenplay ( th Place) in James Goldman
    • Best Actor ( th spot) Peter O’Toole
  •  National Board of Review 1969 : ranked in the top ten films of the year
  •  Academy Awards 1969 :
    • Oscar for best actress at Katharine Hepburn
    • Oscar for best screenplay adapted to James Goldman
    • Oscar for best film music to John Barry
  •  Golden Globes 1969 :
    • Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Film
    • Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama Movie to Peter O’Toole
  •  BAFTA 1969 :
    • Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music to John Barry
    • British Academy Film Award for Best Actress at Katharine Hepburn
  •  Directors Guild of America 1969 :
    • Best Director Award to Anthony Harvey
    • Plaque at Kip Gowans (assistant director)
  •  Writers Guild of America 1969 : Award for Best Dramatic Screenplay to James Goldman
  •  Writers’ Guild of Great Britain 1970 : Award for best British screenplay to James Goldman
  •  David di Donatello 1970 : prize of the best foreign producer to Martin Poll
  •  Laurel Awards 1970 : Award for Best Actress at Katharine Hepburn


  •  Academy Awards 1969 :
    • Martin Poll (producer) nominated for Best Film Oscar
    • Peter O’Toole nominated for Best Actor Oscar
    • Anthony Harvey nominated for Best Director Oscar
    • Margaret Furse nominated for Oscar for Best Costume Design
  •  Golden Globes 1969 :
    • Anthony Harvey nominated for Golden Globe for Best Director
    • Katharine Hepburn nominated for the Golden Globe for best actress in a dramatic film
    • Jane Merrow Named for Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
    • James Goldman nominated for the Golden Globe for best screenplay
    • John Barry nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Movie Music
  •  BAFTA 1969 :
    • Douglas Slocombe nominated for the British Academy Film Award for Best Photography
    • Margaret Furse nominated for the British Academy Film Award for Best Costumes
    • James Goldman nominated for the British Academy Film Award for best screenplay
    • Chris Greenham nominated for the British Academy Film Award for best sound
    • Anthony Hopkins Named for the British Academy Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
    • Anthony Harvey nominated for the United Nations ( UN ) Award
  •  Laurel Awards 1970 : Film nominated for the Best Drama ( th Place)

Around the film

  • A televised remake , The Lion in Winter ( 2003 ) was directed by Andrei Konchalovsky with, among others, Patrick Stewart (Henry II) and Glenn Close (Aliénor).

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Also distributed under the title A lion in winter .
  2. ↑ a , b , c , d and e Source: BFI .
  3. ↑ Duration announced by the CNC .
  4. ↑ Extract from his memoirs, Me – Stories of my life ( Me – Stories of My Life ), Presses de la Renaissance , Paris , 1991 ( ISBN  2856166083 ) .

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