Out Eleanor... in Alais. Why? Henry:
A new wife, wife, will bear me sons. Eleanor: That
is the single thing of which I would have thought you had enough
Henry: What shall we hang, the holly or each other?
A 1966 play written by James Goldman (adapted for film two years later) about the troubles in the family of Henry II of England
and Eleanor of Aquitaine. All of Henry's three sons aspire to be king. Both he and his wife favour a different son and since she has instigated rebellion against him before, Henry had her locked up. This experience hasn't dampened her spirit and when this lovely family goes to celebrate Christmas with the French king, the power play begins in earnest.
The 1968 movie and its acting got high acclaim. Katharine Hepburn
went on to win an Oscar for her role as Eleanor. It was also the film debut of Timothy Dalton and Anthony Hopkins
, who would later go onto fame as James Bond
and Hannibal Lecter
, respectively. Peter O Toole
, who played Henry, also played the role in the earlier film Becket
, which many consider an unofficial prequel to this film. In 2003, it was adapted again for TV, with Patrick Stewart
and Glenn Close.
The Lion in Winter provides examples of:
- Arranged Marriage
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: An astounding amount between Henry and Eleanor.
- Black Vikings: In the 1999 Broadway revival of the play, African-American actors Laurence Fishburne and Chuma Hunter-Gault were cast as Henry and Richard, respectively. The actors who played Eleanor, Geoffrey and John were white.
- Bloodless Carnage: Only one character is actually killed on screen in the 1968 film: The guard outside the cellar where Henry's sons are locked in. Despite the lack of blood, the scene is brutal and disturbing.
- Butt Monkey: John. Historical in that as the youngest son he'd traditionally inherit the least (hence the real-life nickname of "Lackland"). Made painful in this telling because Henry's attempts to favor him over Richard and Geoff have turned John into a clueless spoiled brat.
John: Who says poor John? Don't everybody sob at once! My God, if I went up in flames there's not a living soul who'd pee on me to put the fire out!
Richard: Let's strike a flint and see!
- Cheshire Cat Grin: Eleanor.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Geoffrey, even more than the others.
- Cue the Flying Pigs: "There'll be pork in the treetops come morning"
- Curtain Camouflage: Taken up to eleven when Philip hides multiple people behind multiple hangings. His lampshading of it is the trope's page quote.
- Dawson Casting: A rare inversion, as Peter O'Toole was 36 when the movie came out. His character claims to be 50. (In contrast, Katherine Hepburn was in her sixties at that time.)
- Deadly Decadent Court
- Deadpan Snarker: Henry, Eleanor and Geoffrey have honed their sarcasm into fine-cutting weapons. Philip and Richard aren't as clever with words but can give as well as they can take. If you're John and Alais, you can't keep up.
- Defiant to the End: "When the fall is all there is, it matters."
- Did I Mention It's Christmas?
- Dueling Stars Movie: Two of Hollywood's best.
- Dysfunctional Family: You think?
- Evil Matriarch
- Exact Eavesdropping: Subverted: Philip made more and more people hide behind a curtain and then exposed things with every newcomer, while also showing the latest curtain-inhabitant that he was overheard himself. (Good job if you understood that sentence after reading it only once!).
- Family Disunion
- Gambit Pileup: Pretty much every character is running one, and it's complicated by the fact that Henry, Eleanor, Geoffrey and Philip are particularly capable of Xanatos Speed Chess.
- God Save Us from the Queen: when it's Eleanor of Aquitaine, a Real-Life Chess Master and trouble-maker...
- Good Is Boring: What makes this movie so interesting is that none of them claim to be this.
- Good Feels Good: Henry claims that, since he hasn't been to war in years, he's learned "how good it is to write a law, or make a tax more fair."
- Grey and Gray Morality: None of the characters are particularly decent people, especially towards each other. And their plotting can actually get other people killed.
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: When Henry and Eleanor put away the Snark Daggers and break out the Ham Cannons, there may as well be no-one else in the room.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Susan Vance is married to Anton Ego, the king of England.
- Historical Domain Character: The main characters, including Richard The Lion Heart.
- Katherine Hepburn is a descendant of Eleanor of Aquitaine - not only through Eleanor's marriage to Henry II but also Eleanor's earlier marriage to the French King Louis VII.
- I Have No Son: Henry saying this to his three sons upon learning they were plotting against him.
- I Know You Know I Know "I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows and Henry knows we know it. We're a knowledgeable family." Just so you know.
- In the Back: Or perhaps, better said, 'in the front', since everybody is quite honest about wanting to deceive each other.
- Jacob And Esau
- Like an Old Married Couple: They are, but despite the constant bickering, it's clear Henry and Eleanor still have feelings for each other.
- Middle Child Syndrome: Geoffrey is a painfully pure example of this trope.
Geoffrey: It's not the power I feel deprived of... it's the mention I miss. There's no affection for me here: You wouldn't think I'd want that, would you?
- Momma's Boy: Richard as a child. Not any more now that he's grown up, though.
- Mood Whiplash: Like crazy. Generally from laugh-out-loud funny to crushing tragedy in the course of just a few lines.
- My Beloved Smother
- Oedipus Complex: Richard probably has one of the worst cases in all of history.
- One-Liner: Many, so many.
- Parental Favoritism: They're very blatant about it and a major driving force in the plot.
- The Pawn: Alais, as she says so herself. She claims that because of this, she has nothing to lose.
- Playing Gertrude: A male version of this, as Peter O'Toole is only five years older than Anthony Hopkins.
- Psychotic Smirk: Geoffrey has a rather good one.
- Queer Romance: Philip and Richard.
- Requisite Royal Regalia: Interestingly enough, Henry (the King Of England) is often dressed in rather simple, unadorned clothing, with fingerless gloves and a rather unkempt appearance. When he goes out to greet the King of France (who is dressed well in royal blues), an extra coat and a simple crown is all he dons.
- Revenge: Philip went through a LOT of trouble to screw Henry over... just because Henry constantly picked on Philip's daddy years prior. Could also be a very subtle case of Feuding Families.
- Revenge by Proxy: Philip using Richard to get to Henry.
- Royal Brat
- Royally Screwed Up
- Sarcastic Clapping
- Seen It All: Henry II is so old he's got ten years on the Pope, and uses those years of experience in dealing with Philip.
Eleanor: Louis had a seizure and I damn near died of windburn. (smiles) But the troops were dazzled...
- Sibling Rivalry: played at the level of a contact sport, if not outright war.
- Spiritual Successor: To Becket where Peter O'Toole played Henry II as a young man.
- Straight Gay: Richard and Phillip both.
- Succession Crisis: It doesn't help that the parents can't agree about which son should inherit. Making it worse is Henry's idea of having more children with Alais.
- Unwitting Pawn: Princes John (for Geoffrey) and Richard (for Philip).
- Warrior Prince: Richard.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: For all the sound and fury of the story, absolutely nothing actually changes... except for the poor nameless guard who gets killed when Eleanor goes to free the princes.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: King Philip of France is only seventeen, but one of the more able plotters.
- Woman Scorned: One of the reasons Eleanor is pissed.
- World of Ham: But it works.