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'The Lion in Winter' (PG)

By Martie Zad
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 27, 1994

One of the most revered films of all time, "The Lion in Winter," re-appears on home video this week in a special 25th anniversary edition. This reissue rekindles memories of what a classic this movie really was, with hallmark performances from Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn and the film debuts of Anthony Hopkins, Timothy Dalton, Nigel Terry and John Castle.

The role of Eleanor of Aquitaine brought Hepburn her third of four Oscars.

The film earned two other Academy Awards, for James Goldman for best screenplay and John Barry for best score for a nonmusical. There were four additional Oscar nominations, for best film, best actor (O'Toole), best director (Anthony Harvey) and best costume design (Margaret Furse).

The New Line Home video (2 hrs. 14 min.) is listed at $19.95 and is available in both full-frame and wide screen formats. The new packaging, a distinctive book style, includes production notes and several pictures from the film.

Rather than selecting well-known actors for supporting roles, Harvey opted for theater actors -- thus Hopkins, Dalton, Terry and Castle. Hopkins was appearing at London's National Theatre and needed the permission of Sir Lawrence Olivier to leave and appear in the film. Olivier was reluctant, but finally agreed that Hopkins could make the film during the day if he flew back from Ireland, Wales and France for his evening stage performances in "As You Like It" and "Much Ado About Nothing."

Hepburn was immediately attracted to her character, admiring her spirit. "I think she had something I've always held up as important: love of life but without sentimentality. She was something I've always tried to be -- completely authentic. She went after power and got it; she was intelligent but more importantly, she was physically strong. How else could she live to such a great age?"

Production on the film was packed into a 12-week schedule. Reportedly, O'Toole and Hepburn went out of their way to create a happy-family air on the set.

On the first day, Harvey found a calming note that Hepburn had slipped under his door. It read: "I hope the stars, the moon and the sun are with you. I trust you completely."

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