product description from Amazon:
Behind the great stone walls of an English castle, the world’s most powerful empire is in crisis. Three sons struggle to win their father’s favor as well as his crown. King Henry II (Peter O’Toole) and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn), engage in a battle of royal wits that pits elder son Richard (Anthony Hopkins) against his brothers John and Geoffrey, while the cunning King Philip of France (Timothy Dalton) takes advantage of the internal fracturing in his bid to destroy their kingdom.
Eleanor upon meeting Henry for the Christmas court: “How kind of you to let me out of jail.”
Henry: “It’s only for the holidays.”
They don’t make em like this anymore. Great cast, great screenplay, great characters, great story. How amazing to see a young Anthony Hopkins, way before he became the star he is today. Timothy Dalton must have peaked early, in his portrayal of King Philippe at the beginning of his reign. Hepburn and O’Toole, those legends of the acting world, play off each other with style and panache, vacillating between restraint and excess, love and hate. The sets are accurate and visually compelling (it’s eye-opening to see kings and queens in the bleakness of the 1183 French castle setting ). The dialogue is vitriolic, witty, and sometimes even touches the heart.
This movie positively crackles with passion, ambition, fear, and desire. Truly a tour de force, worth every Oscar.
for a review of the new version of this classic, with Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close, see: