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Directed by Anthony Harvey
UK 1968

 

Acting greats Peter O'Toole (Lawrence of Arabia), Katharine Hepburn (The African Queen), Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) and Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights) star in this epic masterpiece directed by Anthony Harvey (They Might Be Giants). 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 (O'Toole) and his queen, Eleanor (Hepburn), engage in a battle of royal wits that pits elder son Richard (Hopkins) against his brothers John (Nigel Terry, Excalibur) and Geoffrey (John Castle, Man of La Mancha), while the cunning King Philip of France (Dalton) takes advantage of the internal fracturing in his bid to destroy their kingdom. Nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Actor (O'Toole), Director (Harvey) and Costume Design (Margaret Furse) and winner of 3 Academy Awards - Best Actress (Hepburn), Adapted Screenplay (James Goldman) and Music Score (John Barry).

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With the recent success of A Man for All Seasons (1966), an epic film about historical England adapted from a much more successful play, producers were looking for similar material that could offer a combination of prestige and box-office performance. The Lion in Winter seemed made for the movies. Not only did the arrival of Henry and his family members for a Christmas court at Chinon offer opportunities for pageantry on a grand scale, but the film featured several juicy roles and the kind of literate, witty, quite catty dialogue rarely seen since All About Eve (1950) almost 20 years earlier. So Martin Poll, a pioneer in bringing film production to New York City, picked up the rights and secured financing from Joseph E. Levine's Avco-Embassy Pictures, an independent distributor best known for importing foreign classics and low-budget exploitation films (like Hercules (1957) starring Steve Reeves) to the U.S.

O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn were naturals for the leads: O'Toole for his previous success playing the young Henry II in Becket; Hepburn because she was descended from Eleanor, tracing her lineage back to children from the monarch's marriages to both Henry and the king of France. In addition, Hepburn had played a role in boosting O'Toole's career when she urged producer Sam Spiegel to cast him in Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: October 30th, 1968

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Review: Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

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Distribution Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:14:56.588  
Video

Disc Size: 42,036,416,484 bytes

Feature Size: 38,755,774,464 bytes

Average Bitrate: 32.54 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1752 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1752 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1555 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1555 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps 

Subtitles English (SDH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Kino

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Disc Size: 42,036,416,484 bytes

Feature Size: 38,755,774,464 bytes

Average Bitrate: 32.54 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Audio Commentary by Director Anthony Harvey (from 2000)
• Interview with Sound Recordist Simon Kaye (10:23)
• Original Theatrical Trailer (3:18) and 4 other film trailers

Blu-ray Release Date: March 13th, 2018
Standard
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 8

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc.

This new Kino 1080P is advertised as "Newly Restored in 4K! " done in 2016 - and the Blu-ray image frequently looks exquisite. I was very attuned to seek waxiness, edge-enhancements or slight digitization but couldn't with any definitive confidence although there are hints and minor DNR is possible although most viewers won't be deterred. In-motion this looks very strong although I would have liked more grain. There is some artefact-y portions (ex. beach) but they are not the norm. Colors can show a subtle richness, contrast is sublimely layered, there is depth and the 2.35:1 widescreen is ultimately highly impressive in HD despite some reservations that I had about a few still captures and desiring more texture. 

The audio has the option of DTS-HD Master tracks in either a 5.1 surround - the 70 mm prints presented a 6-track - or a 2.0 channel mono (35mm). Both in 16-bit. There are separation effects in the form of swords or knives, jousting and the beach battle scene etc. but notable is the noble score by the great John Barry (Deadfall, The Chase, Midnight Cowboy, Dances With Wolves and the Bond themes among his many credits). It supports the film beautifully adding a regal atmosphere and subtle but building tension in the more dramatic scenes. There are optional English subtitles on the Region 'A' Blu-ray.

Supplements include the 2000 audio commentary by director Anthony Harvey who is wonderfully frank about his career, how he got started in editing, he tells a highly interesting story about Stanley Kubrick, and about disliking 'tea breaks', preferring tracking shots to zooming (unless panned), discussion with how he insisted Kate Hepburn play a specific scene - eventually coming to the conclusion that she enjoyed being challenged, the Barry score and what a gentleman he was about his work, having an intermission at the premiere in NY and much more. It has gaps but is well-worth the listen. There is also a 10-minute interview with sound recordist Simon Kaye who worked on the production and gives input on some specifics of his work in The Lion in Winter. There is also an original theatrical trailer for the film and for 4 others.

What a great Blu-ray package! - the award-winning masterpiece of a film, the commentary and a 4K-restored presentation with lossless sound. The film is a very easy recommendation - one of the more valuable to own for the library.

Gary W. Tooze

 


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Distribution Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray



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