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The Lion in Winter
1990 Varèse

1995 Sony/Columbia

2001 Silva Screen

Originally Composed, Conducted, and Orchestrated by:
John Barry

1995 Album Produced by:
Didier C. Deutsch

2001 Album Produced by:
James Fitzpatrick

Labels and Dates:
Varèse Sarabande

Sony Legacy
(March 14th, 1995)

Silva Screen
(September 25th, 2001)

Also See:
Born Free

Audio Clips:
1995 Sony:

1. Main Title/The Lion in Winter (0:31):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (248K)
Real Audio (154K)

7. To Rome (0:31):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

12. We're Jungle Creatures (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (244K)
Real Audio (152K)

2001 Silva:

5. Fanfare for Philip/The Great Hall Feast (0:32):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

The 1990 album was a regular U.S. release, but is long out of print. The 1995 and 2001 albums are both widely available international releases.

  Winner of an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award. Nominated for a Golden Globe.

The Lion in Winter

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Sales Rank: 122721

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Buy it... on any of its albums (but especially the original recording) if you want to hear a brutal, gothic sound from John Barry that definitely stands apart in his otherwise self-referencing career.

Avoid it... on the 2001 re-recording of the complete score on the Silva Screen label if you demand that the music maintain the intangible sense of menace and fright that exists in only the original recording.

The Lion in Winter: (John Barry) The 1968 big screen adaptation of the stage story of The Lion in Winter remains an impressively dramatic powerhouse. The wickedly brilliant script, performed by the outstanding Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn at the heights of their careers, would have made this film a classic alone. Throw in additionally gripping performances by young actors Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton, and you get a film for which a musical score could have easily been an afterthought. What's important to remember about the music for this film is the simple fact that it wasn't necessary for a composer to create such an "over the top" score, and yet, it is precisely that kid of in-your-face bravado that allowed John Barry to stand on the stage alongside Hepburn and screenwriter James Goldman in accepting an Academy Award for The Lion in Winter. When Barry scored the film, he was at the height of his popularity in the James Bond franchise, with the world knowing him mainly for his sassy Bond scores (and, to a lesser extent, for his jazz band recordings, though Beat Girl wasn't exactly great material). Despite critical acclaim, mainly serious film score collectors were aware of the merits the dramatic realm that Barry displayed in his earlier 1960's scores for Zulu and Born Free. Upon glancing at the script and cast for The Lion in Winter, one would not have associated Barry with the project even at that time, but his friendship with the director Anthony Harvey allowed Barry the opportunity to create a score that would change the public's impression of him forever. The fact that the grandiose style of Barry's score was unnecessary in the first place is what makes it a classic. Left by the director and producer to compose whatever would be appropriate for the film, Barry decided write a dark, menacing, and gothic score, a style which cannot be classified with either his early jazzy works or his later lush romances. He masterfully captured the brutal sounds of the Middle Ages while still adhering to the domination of the Catholic Church.

In the story, the tumultuous family bickering that occupies the entirety of the film is governed by the overarching guidance of the Church in Rome, so even as the members of the Royal Family are on the verge of killing each other, they continuously threaten to go to Rome and seek permission to have the others struck down. Despite the nearly pagan practices of the story's characters (and not excluding the banishment, adultery, and homosexual tensions), there is a faintly angelic feeling to The Lion in Winter. Barry responds by including a few original songs of his own, religious is stature, and using the sounds of Church bells in several cues. While the bells themselves can only be seen in a handful of scenes, the stomping and arguing that continues between the Royal Family in the bowels of their dirty castle is always highlighted by that same sound. Sometimes they toll in the distance, a grim accompaniment to the trumpet solos throughout, and sometimes they chime in with full mass. When the hardened producer of the film first heard Barry's approach to the film, he was reduced to tears of joy. The more memorable half of Barry's work for The Lion in Winter, however, is that which gained him the Oscar for his efforts: his brooding representation of the Middle Ages. This score is often classified as a choral soundtrack, and rightfully so, but there are two distinct uses of the chorus. When The Voices of The Accademia Monteverdiana perform, they are either reciting Latin lyrics written specifically for the film, or they are providing wordless accompaniment to the full orchestra. The songs with Latin lyrics can often become shrill in tone, but putting them aside, Barry's melding of the pounding orchestra, the Latin, and the wordless chants is nothing short of stunning. The overture ("Main Title/The Lion in Winter"), compensating for an unremarkable series of visuals of gargoyles and other nasty stone works, is among the best opening statements of theme in the history of film. The relentless timpani, alternating piano rhythms in the bass, and noble, but disturbing brass, together with the magnificent chants, perfectly prepares the audience for the pure evil it is about to witness. The chants are so menacingly simplistic that they have been compared favorably to Jerry Goldsmith's The Omen.

2001 Silva:
Only $9.99
Barry continues to use bass-heavy orchestral bombast to accentuate the disgusting depths of the castle in which the story moves around. There are several scenes in which a character has made a major decision, and then decides to stomp around the castle; such moments were a feast for Barry, who used every opportunity to let loose with the brass and the chorus to mirror the emotional response. Finally, the music meant specifically for the banished, wicked queen is superb, with a false major key theme of elegance marking her entrance and exit, interrupted by ominous bursts from the male chorus. Overall, the music for The Lion in Winter, is a timeless and unique entry in Barry's career, as well as an undeniably enjoyable experience in the film. The quality of the original recording is decades beyond its time, allowing Barry's original cues to rival today's digital scores in presence and power. The albums of the original score, released first in 1990 by Varèse Sarabande and then more widely by Sony Legacy/Columbia in 1995, are surprisingly vibrant for the age of the recording. In 2001, Silva Screen released re-recorded performances of several John Barry scores by the City of Prague Philharmonic and Crouch End Festival Chorus, under the masterful conducting of Barry-expert Nic Raine. On their album for The Lion in Winter, they present the complete score, including the additional cues of "Richard's Joust/Geoffrey's Battle" and "Fanfare for Philip/The Great Hall Feast," both of which appear relative early in the film, and the latter of which being a very enjoyable addition to hear on its own. Despite the new HDCD digital recording quality of the Silva album, there is an intangible sense of menace and fright that still exists in only the original London recording. The Silva product has the extra incentive, however, of a handful of re-recorded cues from Mary, Queen of Scots, a comparatively mellow, but elegant score by Barry during the same general period. While missing a few key cues from that score (most notably the "Journey to England" cue), it is refreshing to hear it performed in the digital medium. As for The Lion in Winter, you can't lose. Not only should you watch the film, but if you appreciate Barry's strong music for the picture, then you's be well served by purchasing both albums. The score is an enduring classic. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: *****
    Music as Heard on the 1990/1995 Albums: *****
    Music as Heard on the 2001 Silva Album: *****
    Overall: *****

Bias Check:For John Barry reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.85 (in 27 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.48 (in 25,319 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 4.19 Stars
Smart Average: 3.91 Stars*
***** 745 
**** 313 
*** 179 
** 62 
* 61 
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         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
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   Holy crap, it's awesome!
  Richard Kleiner -- 6/4/12 (10:24 p.m.)
   A masterpiece
  Sheridan -- 9/23/06 (2:29 a.m.)
   Vinyl available.
  Alfred Scudiero -- 9/11/06 (8:10 p.m.)
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 Track Listings (1990/1995 Albums): Total Time: 36:22

• 1. Main Title/The Lion in Winter (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)
• 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 (In the Midst of Life We are in Death) (2:15)
• 12. We're Jungle Creatures (2:46)

 Track Listings (2001 Silva Screen Album): Total Time: 54:17

The Lion in Winter:

• 1. The Lion in Winter (2:30)
• 2. Allons Gai Gai Gai (1:41)
• 3. Richard's Joust/Geoffrey's Battle (1:20)
• 4. Chinon/Eleanor's Arrival (3:38)
• 5. Fanfare for Philip/The Great Hall Feast (1:22)
• 6. The Herb Garden (4:15)
• 7. To the Chapel (1:44)
• 8. Eya, Eya, Nova Gaudia (2:16)
• 9. How Beautiful You Make Me (3:00)
• 10. God Damn You (4:25)
• 11. The Christmas Wine (2:41)
• 12. To Rome (4:17)
• 13. Media vita in morte sumus
(In the Midst of Life We are in Death) (2:10)
• 14. We're Jungle Creatures (2:48)
Mary, Queen of Scots (Suite):

• 15. Mary, Queen of Scots (2:31)
• 16. Elizabeth's Ride (1:24)
• 17. Vivre et Mourir (2:12)
• 18. But not Through My Realm (4:47)
• 19. Mary and Darnley (1:46)
• 20. This Way Mary (3:28)

 Notes and Quotes:  

All of the inserts contain lengthy notes about the movie, score, and composer, as well as lyrics and translations of the Latin text.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Lion in Winter are Copyright © 1995, 2001, Varèse Sarabande, Sony Legacy, Silva Screen. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/2/97 and last updated 9/15/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1997-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.