The Lion in Winter Reviews
The Lion in Winter had a Shakespearian feel to it, yet it transcended many of the usual story issues by having a fine touch of charming humour to go with it as it unveils its story about King Henry II and his challenges in life. It's like Shakespeare, but it has 3 elements that elevate it above Shakespearian cinema. One is that it has humour which is more obvious without having to research it for hours on end to find one joke, and yet the humour is subtle and effective. Another is that it's written in a comprehendible language with a strong script. And thirdly is that it doesn't completely suck. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I hate Shakespeare. But I didn't hate The Lion in Winter as it took the good elements of Shakespearian cinema and left the bad, save from a lot of talking and a rather slow pace.
The production design in The Lion in Winter is spot on as it makes the plot thoroughly convincing of the story's timeframe and setting, as do the costumes.
And the cinematography is just excellent as it constantly manages to keep everything in perspective without too much movement or editing. Plus the locations The Lion in Winter is shot on prove beneficial.
The Lion in Winter receives thoroughly strong direction from Anthony Harvey, and under it the cast all manage to succeed and make an impact.
Peter O'Toole is incredibly ferociously strong in The Lion in Winter and it's undoubtably one of his greatest performances. The power in his performance is laden with the kind of strength that Shakespearian actors could only dream about, because Peter O'Toole is so fierce and so powerful without going over the top that his intimidation as an actor has honestly never been stronger than it is in The Lion in Winter. His performance is so dominating that it's ridiculous that he wouldn't win the Academy Award for Best Actor, just as it is ridiculous that he was nominated for 8 in his lifetime without ever winning. Nevertheless he gives the greatest performance of the film and makes The Lion in Winter an unforgettable experience.
I'd say that Katharine Hepburn gives one of her finest performances, but considering that practically every performance of hers is one of her best, it's safe to say that her performance in The Lion in Winter is terrific. She uses her same talented charisma as an actress and skill for confident line delivery that she always uses to charm audiences into giving her four Academy Awards, with The Lion in Winter being the third of them. Her chemistry with Peter O'Toole was also exceptional, since there was a real marital spirit to what they were conveying, and her character development as she gradually made more of an impact standing up to King Henry II as the story went on.
Anthony Hopkins also gives one of the best supporting performances from early on in his career. He shows off the same dramatic passion and character dedication that would later win him an Academy Award and earn him such a respectful reputation. His charisma is strong and his talent at creating chemistry with other actors is rich. Anthony Hopkins is great to see working under Peter O'Toole as they are two of cinema's most celebrated male actors, and seeing them in the same film is quite the experience.
Timothy Dalton supplies some strong talents from earlier on in his film career as well, and John Castle and Nigel Terry also did a fine job.
So The Lion in Winter is an incredibly well acted and visually strong story which has most of the good Shakespearian cinematic elements and few of the bad ones.
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