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  • Setting aside the question of 'Why do we need a remake of an almost perfect original?' I was very pleased with this movie. Credit it, if you will, to Stewart's resonant, commanding voice, but I thought he more than held his own against O'Toole's Henry. Less pomp, more circumstance. Regarding Eleanor, well - nothing could ever top the great Kate's performance in the original movie. Considering the impossibility of doing so, though, I have to say that Glenn Close did a more than admirable job with the role. Indeed, in a couple of scenes – when she was talking but the camera wasn't on her face – you could almost imagine you were hearing Hepburn! Overall, Close's Eleanor was less bitter and acerbic than Hepburn's, but it was still a most valid interpretation of the character. Re: the sons - I didn't care much for Howard's interpretation of Richard – more smarmy posturing rather than the Machiavellian swagger of entitlement that I feel the part calls for (i.e., Anthony Hopkins' portrayal.) But, the characters of Geoffrey and John were cast better in this one, in my opinion, than in the original. Rafe Spall played John's blithering, namby-pamby, spoiled brat to perfection. Also, the sets were wonderful! Big thumbs up.
  • laurakay7616 November 2005
    I've never seen the original ALIW with Hepburn, so I wasn't able to make comparisons there. I did see a stage version, years ago at my old university, so I was familiar with the plot and characters.

    Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close have wonderful chemistry. I freely admit that I could watch Stewart sit on a chair and read from the phone book, but he makes an absolutely commanding Henry II. Close is alternately domineering and fragile, but always riveting. Their separate scenes are elegant, but they shine most when they play off of each other; Henry and Eleanor have a fascinating dynamic, and the interaction between husband and wife is dazzling.

    I was less enamored with the performances of the three English princes. Andrew Howard's Richard was done well enough, particularly the scenes where he was portraying softer emotions. John Light's Geoffrey didn't seem quite right to me, but that may not be his own fault; the actor who played Geoffrey in the stage version I saw was a friend of mine, so my opinion of the character will forever be biased. Rafe Spall's John was utterly appalling -- but he was supposed to be, so does the fact that I absolutely loathed him mean he was brilliant?

    Yuliya Vysotskaya was a luminous Alais. She has a splendid range and presence, and I wish she would do more acting projects that would let her be seen in the U.S. She has a charming ethereal quality when the script calls for it, yet can be equally hard as needed.

    For me, though, the best performance was that of Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, who I found utterly captivating as King Philip of France. He steals every scene in which he appears, and gives the young King just the right balance of anger, slyness, contemplation, and humor. (And let's be honest, he's not really hard on the eyes either.)

    On the whole, I couldn't bring myself to stop watching the movie until it was over, and it's definitely one I would be happy to watch again.
  • Remakes of successful films are notoriously difficult. It took courage to challenge the Peter O'Toole, Katherine Hepburn film. It also took talent. Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close have that in abundance. The original is a classic, no doubt, but Stewart and Close made Henry II and Eleanor very real. In a larger sense, it's too easy to see distant history and the people who lived it as characters in a play, but this film made it clear that the people who lived in those distant time were like us; they dreamed, schemed, hoped, planned, laughed, hurt, made stupid decisions and wept. Henry and Eleanor might have had larger forces working on them than most of us do, but they were just people. Stewart and Close made them real. The Supporting cast was superb. I especially appreciated the portrayal of Richard. Our modern view of that strange tormented man and terrible king was well rendered by Andrew Howard. I would recommend this film over the original.
  • I wonder if the first person reviewing this film actually saw it or is so beholden to the original that they couldn't accept this version. The original is a masterpiece - no question. But to say this remake is inferior in every way is a gross overstatement. In fact, Patrick Stewart brings a more conniving and regretful interpretation to King Henry which is an interesting approach. Richard the Lionheart is portrayed in a much more somber and serious way here than in the original (Hopkins overacted quite a bit but this was toned down). Prince Geoffrey is far superior in this movie; far more manipulating and quietly seething. Glenn Close is not Hepburn but she does a worthy job portraying Eleanor. Prince Philip is also portrayed in a more serious manner (less prissy than Dalton's rendition). The real letdown is Prince John who is borderline retarded. He's so clearly a blundering mean-spirited moron in this movie that you simply can't buy that King Henry would want him as a successor. Aside from that shortcoming (which is large I must admit), this movie works and is enjoyable and as feisty as one can hope.
  • This splendid picture is set in Christmas 1183 , the medieval monarch Henry II (Patrick Stewart who also played Henry's son, Richard the Lionheart , in Robin Hood : Men in thighs , 1993) finds surrounded by astute and ambitious relatives who want to regain politic and egoistic rewards . The king pretends announce his heir and he invites his estranged wife Eleanor of Aquitaine (Glenn Close) imprisoned by conspiracy , there also comes the mean King Philip II of France (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) . Both of whom confront wits over the succession to the English throne and much else . The heir election between the three sons , the valiant Richard (Howard) , the opportunist Geoffrey (Light) and the the vain , useless John (Spall) to be originated intrigues , blackmails and hates . The grown brothers are fraught with tension , rapidly changing alliances and completed with a cutting edge psychological manipulation . In spite of possession a kingdom spread all Great Britain and halve France , there's one thing which Henry II never could to control : his own family .

    The film is inspired by true events , thus occurred certainly the sons' rebellion incited by Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine for the marriage to King Henry II inherited the occidental France ; however , the coup failed and Henry ordered her entry into a convent but she was freed when died Henry and then Richard Lionheart was crowned until the third crusade (intervening along with Philip II and Richard conquered Acre) when was crowned John with no Land . This English domain over France will cause an overlong conflict known as ¨Hundred Years War¨ (1339-1453) . Besides , there appears famous knight William Marshall (Clive Wood) and is mentioned the enemy archbishop Thomas Becket whom ordered to kill (played in previous film by Richard Burton and again Henry II performed by Peter O'Toole) . Besides , Philip Augustus II Capeto (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) who truly combated Henry II and his sons Richard and John whom defeated in Bouvines(1214) battle .

    This television movie is an excellent costumer drama with superb dialog and magnificently characterized medieval roles . Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close make triumphant characterizations . This is a brilliantly script-written picture , being rendered from his own play by James Goldman . The atmospheric and spectacular musical score being magnificently composed by Richard Hartley . Sensational production design by Roger Hall . The film was well directed by Andrei Konchalovsky (Siberiada). The flick will appeal to medieval drama buffs and historical cinema enthusiasts .
  • tom_mack5 March 2005
    The craft of acting is often unseen to the casual observer. I say this because I find it hard to believe that any one would have anything bad to saw about the remarkable performances of Glen Close and Patrick Stewart. I walked away from watching this film thinking that a special Emmy should have been created for Glen. Riveting, powerful, nuanced, Close's performance astounded, showing depth in the character, and building up to the emotional explosion at the end of the film. I still have chills. And for someone to say there was no chemistry between her and Patrick I just have to say- huh? What were you looking for? The way they collided in the scene toward the end of the film revealed how much they LOVED one another...not how much they hated one another. Those angry sparks in the air had their birth in their status as soul mates.

    As for comparisons to Kate Hepburn? Come on now...Kate was a movie star, not an actor, and has no where near the range of Close.

    See this film.
  • I enjoyed this. Though not quite up to the standard of the original it was still much better than many films. The script is still fast and witty. The production quality is not so high, they obviously did not have the same kind of budget as last time which shows occasionally in the sound and music quality. But this does not spoil ones enjoyment.

    Prince John was not acted as well as last time but Henry's mistress (can't remember her name) was much better. In the original I could not see why Henry would be so taken by her - this girl was much more fascinating. The scenes between Henry (Patrick) and her were convincing.

    I thought Patrick Stewart and Glen Close hit sparks off one another.

    I could believe in these two as ex-husband and wife.

    The French King was very different from the Timothy Dalton version but good in his own way.

    Worth seeing and interesting to compare it with the original.
  • It's refreshing to see a new take on a familiar work. But when the original is a legend, the new interpretation often seems wanting. So it is with this `Lion in Winter.' You want it to succeed, but…you hear the actors speak their lines, & ache for the brilliant readings of the earlier film. You respect capable actors like Close & Stewart, but yearn for the inspired pyrotechnics of Hepburn and O'Toole. All actors admirably give performances quite distinct from those of the '68 film-but only Jonathan Rhys-Meyers gives one at least as impressive as his earlier counterpart. His spoiled, manipulative, bisexual man-boy is a fascinating Philip.

    This `Lion in Winter' is enjoyable, but pales in inevitable comparison to the first version. If nothing else, it will make you treasure its superb predecessor all the more.
  • It's been a long time since I saw the "original" (film, that is), but I think this version stands up very well. The script, of course, is sumptuous, and the actors clearly enjoy themselves with it. The production also seems less stagey than what I remember of the 1968 version, something which is often difficult to achieve on the small screen.

    For me, Glenn Close's Eleanor was superb - possibly even better than Hepburn's; but I'd have to see the original again to make sure. She interprets the transitions between scheming power-broker, desolate prisoner and wistful "ex" with a naturalness that I don't remember in the original, yet somehow still manages to deliver the comic lines (and there are plenty) with the timing of a master. And there were only a couple of occasions when I detected any hint of Hepburn's shadow.

    As for Henry: I like Patrick Stewart a lot, but I'm not sure this was his role. He's always seemed a little brittle when it comes to passion; and if there's one thing Henry was, it was passionate. There are also times when he comes across as declamatory (probably the Shakespearean training) and, while O'Toole could probably be accused of the same thing, I missed his energy. It's also plain that he is older than Close, when in fact Henry was 11 years younger than Eleanor (and that was a lot in those days). That said, he makes a good fist of it; and some of the exchanges between the two of them are memorable.

    Where this production really scores though is in its drawing of the smaller characters. I hardly even remember what the sons were like in the original, but here they all have distinct personas; with Andrew Howard's Richard the standout. Rafe Spall even manages to flesh out the character of John - by James Goldman's own admission, the worst written of all of them - and John Light's unloved, Machiavellian Geoffrey is perfectly believable. Johnathan Rhys-Myers' ambivalent Philip also hints at the savvy of a man who would go on to become one of France's greatest kings. Only Yuliya Vysotskaya, as Alys, seemed slightly weak - too timid for a princess of France for me - but that probably has more to do with the script than anything.

    Maybe I'm just a sucker for historical drama, but I thought this was an excellent (and brave, considering the original) effort at depicting two of the most powerful and interesting figures of their time.

  • chuck-28228 May 2004
    I have seem 20-30 historical movies and this is by far the best. I never thought improvement of the O'Toole/Hepburn classic was possible, but I was wrong. This one gives a more accurate portrayal of the times and how little England as a country was to the Empire. The monarchy was more of a landlord and accumulating wealth was the order of the day. This was done through good governing and fear, as this movie accurately depicted. It was especially gratifying to see that the role of all the children was established. The original was based more on the King and Queen, with not as much emphasis on collateral figures. And, the acting was spectacular.
  • barrettd-122 September 2004
    This version of Lion in Winter, aside from being horrible, also failed to convey any of the humor from the original movie or play.

    There's plenty of dark humor in the original movie and play, but the actors and director took it all way too seriously, missing all of it in the script.

    The lines were there, they just blew them.

    Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close are no substitute for Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn.

    All this version did for me was make me want to watch the 1968 version.

    Thumbs down.
  • Why did these people have to go to Hungary to make this film? The whole thing appears to have been shot in some studio with leftover sets and costumes from some episode of the original Star Trek where they were transported back to medieval times. Everything looks like its made of styrofoam. Hey, they even put a dog in it to make it look gritty and realistic.

    I do love Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close, and so I can only conclude that the director made them act the way they did. Neither of them has any teeth! Stewart snarls now and then, but nobody's *really* too worried about him. His Henry is ho-hum, OK, nothing to write home about, but what went wrong with Glenn Close? Her reading of this role is just weird. There are lines she delivers that just don't make sense when coupled with her face or tone. KH communicated all these subtle shifts with a lift of an eyebrow; Eleanor was agile as a cat, but GC emotes so promiscuously, you'd think Dr. Phil was behind a tapestry. Her Eleanor is schizy, and has nobody fooled. That odor of desperation is just wrong for this character. It feels like she combined Fatal Attraction with Mel Gibson's Hamlet's Gertrude to come up with this Eleanor. Wrong. I can't think of a role with more meat for a good actress to bite into. Why so far off the mark? Oh well.

    The other players are not memorable enough for me to recall; they all played everything on one note.

    If I was going to bother remaking a classic movie like this, I would have put the effort into it to use an appropriate location in France, get the costumes right, and give the actors some intelligent direction.
  • thoraj3 February 2007
    OK performances but I have to say overall disappointing and utter crap. I usually adore Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close and their performances were quite good, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers was outstanding (didn't have enough screen time). The rest of the cast was nothing special. Maybe they were meant to be mediocre characters and in that case they did well.Yuliya Vysotskaya in her role as Alais was sensational and I hope to see her in future roles but this movie is just not worth the time it takes to see it. I didn't have any expectations when I rented it and it left me feeling unfulfilled. Have seen worse movies but it's in that category.
  • wigginsmum27 December 2003
    I've waited for most of this year to see this film and feel sadly let down. You'd think with classy actors like Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close, we'd get something to at least approach the original version, but no - this is utter pants. There's no chemistry between the leads, and the supporting actors are merely adequate. None of the brooding coiled intensity that was there in the original between Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn - this plays more like a soap opera with dreadfully schmaltzy music. Even the excellent script by William Goldman trudges rather than sparkles. One to be avoided.
  • ireide12 December 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is a poor and unnecessary remake of an outstanding original.

    The 1968 version, which starred Peter O'Toole and Kathryn Hepburn (who were accompanied by an excellent cast of supporting actors), told the story of the animosity and conflict which took place between the King of England, Henry II, and the members of his family over Xmas 1183. Their interpretation of this relationship produced one of the great movies of the 20th century.

    The remake is inferior in every regard. To begin, the acting can at best be described as mediocre. Stewart and Close are tolerable, but their supporting actors seem little more than cardboard cut-outs staggering through their dialogue without enthusiasm or animation. Entirely absent from their performance is the purported purpose of the movie, to reveal the drama of a group of people battling and scheming for survival and power. The actors seem to be doing little more than reading their lines from cue cards. This performance is doubly painful to watch as the screenplay is a near word for word copy of the outstanding James Goldman original. Even the sets, which I hoped would be an improvement, are inferior. The original had an authentic air of grubby decay and dirt, while the new is filled with clean people inhabiting tidy surrounds—hardly convincing for the Middle Ages.

    The term 'dumbed down' comes to mind when comparing the two.

    To be frank, I did not watch all of this movie, however, I am certain I am not the worse for this lack. If anyone wants to see a great movie, see the original, ignore the remake.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Recap: It is soon Christmas and Henry II decides to hold court at Chinon. There he intends to enforce his wish to crown his youngest son John as his heir and to make John marry Alais, a French princess and Henry's lover. Unfortunately, he is not the only one with interests in the succession. Both Richard and Geoffrey, John's elder brothers, want to be king. And the queen Eleonor, imprisoned by Henry since hers (and Richards and Geoffreys last uprising) has her own intentions. And then there is the young French king Philip that intends to enforce Henry's deal with Philip's father Louis that Alais should marry Richard. The game is set and there are too many players. The only thing to be sure about is that everyone looks out for themselves.

    Comments: Set in the middle ages you almost think that they will solve every quarrel with swords, but this movie has almost none of it. Instead it his an entrenched battle of the wits with too many combatants so that no one never can be sure of who's trench they're in. Alliances are made and broken on a whim and everyone evolves around one thing. The throne. There are two main combatants, Henry and Eleonor, but the other has schemes of their own.

    That makes for an interesting story. Everything is in motion. So even if it is long (originally a two piece series) it is never dull.

    With no action to speak of, and the intrigue being all in words it is important that the characters is believable and all the pressure is on the actors. And they come through with flying colors. Both Stewart and Close are solid veterans, but they get strong support from all the others. No character, except for one, and that is the major flaw of the movie, is shallow or simple. All characters are deep, complex. There are secrets and hidden motives that evolve and surface during the movie. It is only John, Henry's favorite, that doesn't come through. If that is the directors intention or not I can't say but it is the weak point of the movie. Because John is too dumb and unfit to be king in almost any way conceivable. How he can be the intended heir is a conundrum. However, it is not only rational reasoning that command the players here, too much of it is emotions. Ant that, is another strength of the movie, because it builds to the unpredictability.

    Well, I could go on, but the comment soon would be as long as the movie. In short, this was a nice surprise. Highly recommended for those that appreciate a battle in words and don't need explosions in every movie.

  • The original film version starring Katharine Hepburn and Peter O'toole is my favorite film of all time simply because of the two brilliant actors who take the starring roles and the witty dialog that they exchange. This remake was not only sad, it was pathetic. I am glad that it was only a TV release so it will not scar the image of the original with moviegoers.

    This version not only had problems, it was a problem. To begin with the script that made the original sparkle was dimmed for this revamp. Evidently it was felt that "dumbing down" was needed in order for new audiences to comprehend the dialog. So instead of the exchange of mighty wits that they first was built on this film presents a battle between idiots who can barely speak. Close attempts to take on the character of Eleanor but fails when compared to Hepburn who seemed to become Eleanor. As for Patrick Stewart, whom I admire as an actor, he was possibly the best part of the film although his part suffered from being brought down to the level of a supposed audience of idiots. As for the actor who played John, words cannot express such disgust for bad acting or unseemly display of stupidity.

    The only thing this film had going for it, and I am not sure it was a plus, was that it was slightly more historically sound than the original, but in order to be so I am sure the original play had to be changed in some way.
  • Perhaps the viewer that seems to think that this production is "inferior," is because he may be too enamoured with the "stars" of the first.

    The original star-studded production, though excellent, suffered from Hollywooditis. O'Toole never let up from being O'Toole. Hepburn did a better job at playing the character.

    The current production boasts actors of at least the same quality and the story was allowed to develop without seeing the "stars."

    Close, Stewart and an evenly matched cast played to the storyline without playing to the camera.

    The tale became the "star," not the players.

  • B*O*R*I*N*G*!!!! this is an incredibly awful representation of the wonderful play and tremendous portrayals of the 1968 film. the acting is dull. stewart and hepburn cannot touch o'toole and hepburn. the role of richard was played as a major wimp, john's portrayal was disastrous, and phillip a joke. only the geoffrey character was interesting, though it does not compare the brilliance of john castle. the script was almost word-for-word, but the deliverance was dull and w/out any passion or inspiration. i cannot say enough bad things about this was entirely a disappointment. stick w/the original,the performances near perfect, and one of the best if not best of the 20th century films. don't waste your time or money on this TV version. see the original, you'll be glad you did.
  • This movie is a rarity: a remake that is inferior to the original in every single aspect. Not only is every actor inferior (even the minor ones). Not only are the direction, sets, music, photography, etc. inferior. Not only do the few changes to the screenplay weaken the production. The remarkable achievement of this film is that every single *line* of dialogue makes one long for the original.
  • Some films should simply not be remade, and The Lion in Winter is among them. The writer cannot be blamed; after all, it's Goldman's original script, almost word for word. The culprits are the director and the actors, laboring so hard to craft every scene and deliver every line differently than in the O'Toole-Hepburn version that they just lose their way. (The Charlton Heston version of A Man for All Seasons, another remake that should never have been, suffers from the same thing.) There are other problems; on one hand, (in theory, at least), while Stewart and Close could have been perfect casting choices as Henry and Eleanor, the rest of the cast just don't appear comfortable or confident in their roles and it shows. Masterpieces should be left alone; I only hope no one ever gets any bright ideas about To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • cspschofield7 April 2005
    It's a pity that this was made AFTER the film, rather than before it. As a television production of a stage play it holds up reasonably well. As a remake of a classic - and not really very old - film, it constitutes a serious disappointment.

    I do not automatically hate remakes. The classic Bela Lugosi Dracula was a remake. So was Charlton Hestion's Ben Hur. The remake of Ocean's Eleven is better than the original, because the stars of the original were goofing off. However, a remake should offer something new over the original. Sound. Color. Special Effects. A great star who has a new interpretation of the old role. Ideally, a remake should have more than one of these things, and - sadly - this one doesn't.

    Patrick Stewart does have a new take on Henry ... at least a little. His Henry is less compulsive, more comfortable, less driven. Had Glen Close shifted her Elanor to match the results might have been interesting. Unfortunately Ms. Close gives the impression that she has been watching the original for some months, nonstop. She not so much plays Elanor of Aquitane as she plays Katherine Hepburn playing Elanor. One of the other reviews here remarked that at times you could imagine that Elanor's lines were being spoken by Ms. Hepburn, and that's true but it isn't a plus. Ms. Close delivers her lines very much as Ms. Hepburn did, and if Mr. Stewart had played Henry the way Mr. O'Toole did it might have worked. Since Stewart is not playing Henry in the same way that O'Toole did, the result is somewhat jarring at times.

    As for the rest; the young man playing Phillip cannot begin to match the young Timothy Dalton, nor the remake's Richard come close to Hopkins's interpretation. John is a mess, but John is written as a mess in the play, so it is hard to say who to blame. Lastly, Geoffrey lacks the sardonic power of the original. It's too bad.
  • I can't say this is better than the original, but it certainly is different. This version is darker and far more intense than the original. The love, the hate, the pain are so much more evident here than they were in the original, especially that of the children.

    Of course, I'll have to watch the original to compare, but what I recall is that the original came across as light, fast moving and clever.

    Close and Stewart don't have the chemistry of Hepburn and O'Toole, and the exchange of dialogue isn't as snappy. And I think that perhaps, this ultimately aids in the depth of that dialogue coming across better. Though, Close does play the B**ch very, very well.

    Andrew Howard as Richard and John Light as Geoffrey were awesome. Richard's pain at being the constant pawn stuck in the middle of his parents' war and Geoffrey's pain at being no one's favorite were, well, painful to watch.

    While I adore the original version of Lion in Winter, I just *get* this version so much more. Maybe it's because these actors are from my generation whereas those of the original are from my mother's, I don't know. So, overall, while TLIW 2003 is not better than the original, it is as good as the original, just in a different way.
  • Smoky21 May 2015
    One thing is fore sure: it takes some serious guts to remake a classic like Lion in Winter. That is especially true for Glenn Close, who dares to take on the role of Eleanore, which earned Katherine Hepburn her fourth academy award in the 1968 original.

    Somewhat surprisingly, I actually found this installment to be the better of the two. The story, very briefly, unfolds at King Henry II's Christmas court where his imprisoned wife, his warring sons and the King of France are present. The entire action is confined to a few days and concerns the machinations and intrigues surrounding the selection of Henry's heir. It's a film that is almost entirely carried by the characters and their various weird interrelations, although the costumes and the castle are actually really nice, especially considering that it was made for TV.

    Patrick Steward can truly shine here and one is duly reminded that he is a Shakespearean actor and not just the captain of the Enterprise. He is a much more nuanced and also humane Henry and makes Peter o'Tool in the 1968 installment look like a bone-headed brute. He makes it believable that he favors John, which I never quite understood in the original. Glenn Close's performance is also top notch and the chemistry between her and Steward is perfect. The reals standout performance for me however was Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the young king Philip of France. His portrayal of the spoiled kid become king is spot on and sometimes incredibly funny.

    The only reason I am not giving the full 10 stars here is actually the script. While it is fun to watch the scheming up to a point, I found it to be a bit too much towards the very end.

    All together however, this made for TV movie is a real treat.
  • How can you beat the original? Certainly not with the worst performance by Glenn Close I've ever seen.

    It all just seemed to be off kilter somehow. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers was refreshing as Phillip. Patrick Stewart's makeup was awful. Still well worth watching if you can extract the storyline.

    I rated it at 4. What ever happened to the talent of staging, scenery, and proper props? Thank you Hallmark for the attempt.
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