Lifetime Lion

by wjw on December 27, 2021

So we watched The Lion in Winter, one of our favorite Christmas movies. I’ve seen the movie many times, and I think I startled Kathy by singing along with the theme music.

Regis regum rectissimi
prope est dies domini,
dies irae et vindictae,

tenebrarum et nebulae
diesque mirabilium
tonitruorum fortium,
dies quoque angustiae,
maeroris ac tristitiae.

(It’s pretty much the only Latin I know other than E Pluribus Unum.)

And I also enjoy singing with Alais in a rather more cheerful tune.

Allons gai gai gai
Legeres, allons gai
Allons gai
Soyez legeres, suivez-moi

(I know a bit more French than this song.)

One thing I noticed this time around was that The Lion in Winter has all the beats of a Lifetime Christmas movie. You have the entire family, who all have their own problems, all gathering at the home of the crotchety and shouty family patriarch, to teach him about the true magic of Christmas (before killing him).

For at least three minutes I really wanted to write that movie.

I’ve been to Chinon, the enormous castle built by Henry II on a bluff over the River Vienne, and which is the setting for the movie and the play. Not only was it Henry’s favorite residence, but it was the residence of the last Templar Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, when he was sent off to the Pope to be judged. (The Pope opined that he was innocent, but the French king killed him anyway.) Jeanne d’Arc first met the Dauphin at Chinon. Later it was gifted to Cardinal Richelieu, who tore down much of it rather than spend the money to maintain it. It’s now a ruin, but a very impressive one.

I’ve also visited the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud, where Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Richard I are buried. (John’s heart is under the altar somewhere.) In his effigy, Henry is grimly clinging onto his scepter while Eleanor reads a book and ignores him. Richard surprised me by being blond— he’s always played by dark-haired actors.

Upstairs in the cloister Le Lion en Hiver played on a regular schedule. It was cold and the room was unheated, otherwise I might have watched it.

pecooper December 27, 2021 at 3:57 pm

Oh, lordy. I had forgotten that “The Lion in Winter” was a Christmas movie. We all have our favorites. Mine the Humphrey Bogart classic, “We’re No Angels.”

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