The year is 1183. Like many a modern-day politician, Britain's King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) finds it occasionally useful to take his wife out of mothballs and parade her before the public. Henry's Queen Eleanor (Katharine Hepburn), long exiled to a faraway castle, is "invited" to join Henry and their three sons for a family reunion. In this way, Henry hopes to maintain a stronghold on his Empire and to prevent the balance of power from shifting to Eleanor or to one of his sons: Richard the Lion-Hearted (Anthony Hopkins in his movie debut), Prince Geoffrey (John Castle), or Prince John (Nigel Terry). Also on hand for the get-together is Henry's mistress Princess Alais (Jane Merrow) -- who covets the King's influence -- and the Princess' brother, King Philip of France (Timothy Dalton). Despite Henry's efforts to keep his wife and offspring at arms' length (and away from the throne), Eleanor successfully reunites the brood, assuring that her power will not only be restored, but will last long after her death. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
A great period piece with a superb cast delivering exemplary performances in their roles. But what truly makes this film a gem is the verbal interplay between Henry (O'Toole)and Eleanor (Hepburn). Sometimes it comes so fast and furious you may have to rewind to be sure you don't miss any of it. Ms. Hepburn has some real zingers in this film and her delivery is perfect. A film you won't regret seeing
The story never actually happened, but the characters did. This movie portrays brilliantly the love-hate relationship in the family that owned half of Europe in 1183. It's tragic, funny and moving all at once. O'Toole is even better as Henry II than he was in Becket.