The Lion in Winter

cover art for The Lion in Winter OST
cover art for The Lion in Winter Re-recording

Original Soundtrack
1968

LP: Columbia OS 3250
CD: Varese Sarabande VSD-5217
CD: LEGACY/COLUMBIA CK 66133 (reissue)

  1. Main Title (2:39)
  2. Chinon-Eleanor's Arrival (3:28)
  3. Allons Gai Gai Gai (1:50)
  4. To the Chapel (1:48)
  5. The Christmas Wine (2:44)
    [lyric by James Goldman]
  6. God Damn You (4:15)
  7. To Rome (4:06)
  8. The Herb Garden (4:40)
  9. Eya, Eya, Nova Gaudia (2:11)
  10. How Beautiful You Make Me (3:01)
  11. Media Vita in Morte Sumus (2:15)
  12. We're Jungle Creatures (2:46)

Re-recording
2001

CD: Silva 353

  1. The Lion In Winter
  2. Allons Gai Gai Gai
  3. Richard's Joust / Geoffrey's Battle
  4. Chinon / Eleanor's Arrival
  5. The Fanfare For Philip / Great Hall Feast
  6. The Herb Garden
  7. To The Chapel
  8. Eya, Eya, Nova Gaudia
  9. How Beautiful You Make Me
  10. God Damn You
  11. The Christmas Wine
  12. To Rome
  13. Media Vita In Morte Sumus (In The Midst Of Life We Are In Death)
  14. We're All Jungle Creatures
(subsequent tracks are from Mary, Queen of Scots)

The Movie

It's a hell of a movie. Peter O'Toole reprises Henry II (he'd played it before in the movie Beckett), an aging monarch who looks none-to-favorably at the heirs to his throne. Unwilling to let the natural order prevail, Henry wants to name his successor and make it stick. Henry's choice is John, the youngest. But his estranged wife, Eleanor (Kate Hepburn) favors Richard (Anthony Hopkins). Henry is loud, bullying and conniving, but so is Eleanor. And all three sons, including overlooked Geoffrey, want the throne.

That's the surface of it. Add to the mix young Alais, who is engaged to marry the crown prince, whomever that will be--but she loves Henry, Henry claims to love her and doesn't want to let her go. Her brother Philip (Timothy Dalton) is the young King of France and now wants the girl married or her dowry (rich, strategically important land) back. Eleanor loves Henry but hates him too, and wants him to to suffer--and the feeling is mutual. It's two hours of politics, double dealing, and vitriol, set in 1183AD.

This is the kind of historical drama that really works well. I have no idea how historically accurate it is--the film-makers did it in such a way that the story seems plausable as history, but is dramatically structured to be entertaining--it might be fiction, but it doesn't look fake.

Plus it's smart. So many movies seem to be inspired by either comic books or juvenile biographies, assuming that the audience is so pig-ignorant they won't think a thing about what's on the screen. This one doesn't--you don't have to be an historian to follow the plot--but you don't have to leave your brain at the door, either.

It doesn't hurt that it's a powerhouse cast that lent its enormous collective talent to this film, either. O'Toole is incredible (contrast it with his performance as T. E. Lawrence). Hepburn shows why she's a legend. Hopkins and Dalton show why they'd later become stars. Audiences who see a lot of British movies will likely recognize more of the cast.


The Music

Barry won his 3rd Oscar for this score, and it's obvious why--like the movie, it's a powerful score. Like the movie, it nicely straddles the line between a pleasing, modern sound while giving the appearance of the high middle ages. Barry uses choir vocals, soaring horns and deep base drums. If you have a good stereo, this is a good one to turn on loud and watch the windows rattle.


Release Notes

Barry won an oscar for the score and the LP should be easy to find. Varese and (later) Sony rereleased a CD that's virtually identical to the LP. These are easy to find.

Nic Raine re-recorded an expanded (complete) score for Silva Screen. This CD also the re-recorded score of Mary, Queen of Scots, which has never been available on CD.