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Barry Lyndon
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Product Description

In 1975 the world was at Stanley Kubrick's feet. His films Dr.?Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and A Clockwork Orange, released in the previous dozen years, had provoked rapture and consternation--not merely in the film community, but in the culture at large. On the basis of that smashing hat trick, Kubrick was almost certainly the most famous film director of his generation, and absolutely the one most likely to rewire the collective mind of the movie audience. And what did this radical, at-least-20-years-ahead-of-his-time filmmaker give the world in 1975? A stately, three-hour costume drama based on an obscure Thackeray novel from 1844. A picaresque story about an Irish lad (Ryan O'Neal, then a major star) who climbs his way into high society, Barry Lyndon bewildered some critics (Pauline Kael called it "an ice-pack of a movie") and did only middling business with patient audiences. The film was clearly a technical advance, with its unique camerawork (incorporating the use of prototype Zeiss lenses capable of filming by actual candlelight) and sumptuous production design. But its hero is a distinctly underwhelming, even unsympathetic fellow, and Kubrick does not try to engage the audience's emotions in anything like the usual way.

Why, then, is Barry Lyndon a masterpiece? Because it uncannily captures the shape and rhythm of a human life in a way few other films have; because Kubrick's command of design and landscape is never decorative but always apiece with his hero's journey; and because every last detail counts. Even the film's chilly style is thawed by the warm narration of the great English actor Michael Hordern and the Irish songs of the Chieftains. Poor Barry's life doesn't matter much in the end, yet the care Kubrick brings to the telling of it is perhaps the director's most compassionate gesture toward that most peculiar species of animal called man. And the final, wry title card provides the perfect Kubrickian sendoff--a sentiment that is even more poignant since Kubrick's premature death. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews:

  • Bleaker and darker is impossible
    An old film that has aged tremendously. The rhythm is slow, too slow, and it lacks any kind of feeling or sympathy or compassion. It is cold, very cold. This is the portrait of a social climber who is blocked and rejected when he has finally reached the top. Then it becomes the story of his downfall. He has a lot of luck in his life, but he essentially is a coward who uses the army to get out and away, a deserter who shifts from one side to the other, a spy who double-cross everyone, a gambler who cheats all the time, and a gross ruthless and uncouth person who uses every means at his disposal to get to his ends, even women of course. But the film shows how he is then defeated more by misfortune than by any real plan. He is defeated by the young lord whose mother he has conquered, and the details show that this young lord is even worse than the one he gets rid of, his stepfather, a vomiting retching little coward who takes advantage of the very only moment of generosity his stepfather actually demonstrates in his whole life, and this only one time towards him. He surely recovers his estate and gets rid of his stepfather but he recovers no honour, and yet Kubrick does not go that far. He stops short of saying that, though he shows it with the very last images of a sad, selfish, embittered young man who has suddenly gotten older than his age. What could have attracted Kubrick in such a story ? I can only see one answer : the deep cruelty of human beings and the unfathomable inhumanity of human society, aristocratic or not. That may explain the whole career of Stanley Kubrick : human society is nothing but a computer gone berserk.

    Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Paris Dauphine & University of Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne
    ...more info
  • Can't get better than this
    I have nothing to add to what most people who reviewed this positively said. All I would add is that the fencing scene is very well done, and not surprisingly, highly authentic, especially the last move done by O'Neil: the grab / behind the back stab maneuver is right out of contemporary fencing manuals of the time. What is interesting though, is that they are both fencing left-handed...what are the odds of that happening (makes me wonder if the Pantinkin / Elwes fencing scene in Princess Bride 15 years later was some sort of homage to that?)...more info
  • Aspect Ratio was KUBRICK's choice!
    Since I love this movie I'll limit myself to the issue of the aspect ratio. In summary: Kubrick wanted the film to look this way--a decision he made while preparing the now out-of-print "Collection" of his films.

    According to an Editor's Note on the 1999 release (found here (Amazon doesn't allow URL-insertion, so you'll have to copy-paste): [...] the Aspect Ratio is exactly the way The Master intended.

    According to the WB spokesperson quoted on the above ref'd page, "In every respect, the films in the Collection remain as Kubrick approved them." (who was that decided on these description? 16X9 TVs are more accurately described as full-screen that 4X3 TVs which leave a very large area of the screen unused).

    So, while the 4X3 "full" screen is annoying for those of us with 16X9 TVs, it they way Kubrick wanted us to see it. (He also favored mono over stereo because of the vast differences in theatrical audio equipment and quality; e.g. the original cut of "Star Wars: A New Hope" had mono (the overwhelming majority of theaters, back then, had one speaker placed behind the screen), 2-channel stereo, and 5 channel stereo mixes for those tiny number of theaters which had them in 1977 (two years AFTER "Barry Lyndon"!).

    Unfortunately, Amazon's product description of this version frustratingly doesn't indicate if it comes with even a 2.1 stereo version, let alone a full 5.1 mix.

    Either way, it's still a great movie, gorgeously photographed and including all the hallmarks of his inimitable style....more info
  • Kubrick's fascinating, audacious masterpiece
    This is the picareque tale of Barry Lyndon set in Eighteenth century Europe. Filled with Kubrick trademarks - stunning imagery, superb use of music, meticulous attention to detail - and it all works brilliantly. Indeed this may well be Kubrick's greatest achievement on film. Ryan O'Neal is excellent as the eponymous Irish rogue, although interestingly, Lyndon fades into the background about three-quarters of the way through with the film shifting instead to focus on those around him. Barry Lyndon is exciting, one-of-a-kind film-making - riveting to watch despite it's three hour length.

    Contrary to other reviewers concerns this DVD is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1. The DVD has no extras....more info
  • Aspect Ratio was KUBRICK's choice!
    Since I love this movie I'll limit myself to the issue of the aspect ratio. In summary: Kubrick wanted the film to look this way--a decision he made while preparing the now out-of-print "Collection" of his films.

    According to an Editor's Note on the 1999 release (found here (Amazon doesn't allow URL-insertion, so you'll have to copy-paste): [...] the Aspect Ratio is exactly the way The Master intended.

    According to the WB spokesperson quoted on the above ref'd page, "In every respect, the films in the Collection remain as Kubrick approved them." (who was that decided on these description? 16X9 TVs are more accurately described as full-screen that 4X3 TVs which leave a very large area of the screen unused).

    So, while the 4X3 "full" screen is annoying for those of us with 16X9 TVs, it they way Kubrick wanted us to see it. (He also favored mono over stereo because of the vast differences in theatrical audio equipment and quality; e.g. the original cut of "Star Wars: A New Hope" had mono (the overwhelming majority of theaters, back then, had one speaker placed behind the screen), 2-channel stereo, and 5 channel stereo mixes for those tiny number of theaters which had them in 1977 (two years AFTER "Barry Lyndon"!).

    Unfortunately, Amazon's product description of this version frustratingly doesn't indicate if it comes with even a 2.1 stereo version, let alone a full 5.1 mix.

    Either way, it's still a great movie, gorgeously photographed and including all the hallmarks of his inimitable style....more info
  • "... good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now".
    The beauty, the depth, and the mystery of this film are unsurpassable - what Kubrick was doing with light is just a miracle. Special lenses were designed to shoot interiors and exteriors in natural light. In one scene Barry (Ryan O'Neil) was having a dinner with a German woman who was feeding her baby and the candle light made the whole scene look like a Caravaggio's painting. This is just one of many scenes. Each of them is perfection and harmony. Costumes and sets were crafted in the era's design. Age of Enlightenment with its gallantry, wars, and duels, had been recreated in the film with the precision of the celebrated landscape and portrait masters of the period such as Thomas Gainsborough; Sir Joshua Reynolds, founder of the Royal Academy of Arts; George Romney to name just a few. If nothing else, watching "Barry Lyndon" is pure aesthetic delight - and there is one man responsible for it, Stanley Kubrick. If ever divine film was made, "Barry Lyndon" was it and Kubrick could've quoted the Bible - "God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good".

    I've read the comments and articles that call "Barry Lyndon" cold, slow, boring, "the collection of pretty pictures', "flawed" masterpiece, and the most ridiculous one, "glittering ornament with a hollow center". I simply can't understand it. "Barry Lyndon" is the most compelling and compassionate realization of the inevitable finality of everything in this world which was presented by the visionary director with elegant sensual melancholy. Stanley Kubrick known for his detached, seemingly remote and non-sentimental style chose to reach out to his viewer directly during the epilogue, "It was in the reign of George III that the aforesaid personalities lived and quarreled, good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now". I don't recall any other movie that would illustrate the old wisdom, "everything will pass" in such sublime and deeply moving way. ...more info
  • Magnificent video
    BARRY LYNDON is a film I first saw in Amsterdam in the 1970s. It has always been one of my very favourite films, and I particularly admire Stanley Kubrick for not using artificial light at all. Everything is shot in natural light or a multitude of candles.

    I ordered this video back in 2000, but I stupidly loaned it out and lost touch with the borrower, so I reordered it recently and it was glorious. The video had been remastered and there were scenes that were not in the original one. In fact my first BARRY LYNDON video was a single and the new one was 2.

    There has been nothing but a smile on my face since I received the wonderful remastered version of BARRY LYNDON, and I watch it weekly!...more info
  • An underappreciated masterpiece; deserves to be on Blu-Ray
    I'm aware of the many criticisms leveled against this film, but I consider it to be one of Kubrick's finest, and it's one of my all-time favorite movies. Perhaps more than in any of his other films, he makes effective use of a seemingly endless stream of striking images and gorgeous music to create a highly atmospheric ambience.

    Unfortunately, the DVD transfer is substandard, with an apparently non-anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio that stretches out the image horizontally (at least on my LCD HDTV). The picture quality is not as clear as it should be, even allowing for the deliberately dark scenes shot only by candle-light. This film would look a lot better with a quality remastering.

    The audio is presented in reasonably good Dolby 5.1, but I'm hoping that when this film is remastered for Blu-Ray, it will receive a major improvement in the picture quality as well as a more robust audio track.

    People complain that Ryan O'Neal was somehow miscast or did a bad job of acting. I disagree. The main character in this film is a highly flawed human being who brings about his own downfall due to his various failings. That's part of the whole story. O'Neal portrays this character in a direct manner, without any attempts at eliciting false empathy from the audience.

    Another criticism some have made is that the film is too long and moves too slowly. The same criticism could be made about most other Kubrick films. Watching a Kubrick film is not like watching most films. He took a very long time to shoot his movies, and it seems clear that he expected viewers to be willing to spend time when watching them. He didn't make popcorn movies (though there's nothing wrong with them; sometimes you just want 90 minutes of rapid-fire action, appealing characters, and an event-filled plot).

    So, the film itself is a masterpiece, the DVD is substandard, and "Barry Lyndon" deserves a first-rate Blu-Ray transfer so that we can finally see the movie as it was meant to be seen.



    ...more info
  • a generation later, we in the public have caught up to kubricks "flop"
    i hadnt seen this since its initial release 30 years back, and at the time i was among the many who expressed disappointment. now, it has grown considerably in my estimation. while the acting of ryan o'neal still leaves something toi be desired, everything else about the movie stands out: a subtle script, fine performances, and of course magnificent to look at. the battle sequences are harrowing, but the infighting and backstabbing of the various court intrigues (not to mention the parallel intrigues among the rural set) are whats really harrowing. kubrick made so many dark movies, and this one was so misunderstood. it doesnt rank in my own list with his 4 great science fiction films (strangelove, 2001, clockwork, eyes), but thats more a matter of personal preference. a masterpiece -- even if we are only recognizing it as such a generation later.
    ...more info
  • A Filmed Painting
    My comments are going to address the film itself (just as my 5-star rating is for the movie, not the DVD transfer), since many other smart and observant reviewers have pointed out the failings of Warner Brothers' shoddy treatment of Barry Lyndon on DVD. I absolutely urge any fan of poetic cinema or Stanley Kubrick to invest in a copy of this movie, but better to wait for a beautiful transfer of one of the most beautifully photographed films ever made.

    As for the film... A hipster friend once told me Kubrick was his favorite director. I asked him if he liked "Barry Lyndon." "Barry what?" was the answer, confirming my suspicion that "Lyndon" is an underrated work even among Kubrick devotees. I can understand. Despite being a period-piece based on a picturesque adventure novel, Lyndon is as aggressively experimental as Kubrick's previous film, "A Clockwork Orange," and does not reward the passive or impatient viewer.

    Thwarted in his desire to film a Napoleon biopic, Kubrick turned to William Makepeace Thackeray for inspiration and the result is an arrestingly beautiful, strangely haunting, and thoroughly original work of cinematic art. In two parts separated by an intermission, Barry Lyndon follows the rise and fall of one Redmond Barry, an 18th century Irishman whose good looks, ingratiating manners, talent for fighting, and cutthroat ambition mark him for something "greater" in life than tending farms. During the course of the narrative, Redmond duels an Englishman, joins the regiment afoot, deserts, gets dragooned into the Prussian army, becomes a Prussian spy, escapes again, takes up the profession of gambling, travels the Continent in the company of a Chevalier, and pursues a nobleman's wife.

    And that's just the first part. Sounds like an exciting romp, doesn't it? Er, actually -- it's not. For all its visual pomp and splendor, "Barry Lyndon" remains one of the strangest, most idiosyncratic films I've ever seen. Ask almost anyone who has seen the movie (a paltry number to begin with) and most will tell you that "Barry Lyndon" is, in a word, boring. I can only account for my own experience, but the effect for me is more mesmerizing than yawn-inducing. Kubrick's mastery of the film medium is such that he recklessly breaks all rules of movie storytelling and yet I'm hypnotized by the painterly images and evocative classical soundtrack.

    "Lyndon" is an embarrassment of visual riches, from the lush green landscape of Ireland to the candle-lit interiors of European courts and palaces. Virtually every shot of the movie could be framed and mounted on the wall. "Barry Lyndon" belongs on a shortlist of the most physically ravishing films ever made and is worth seeing for that reason alone. It's pure cinema, distilled to a gorgeous interplay of sight and sound.

    Kubrick stretches film time to the breaking point, collapsing months and years into a few shots and then drawing out fleeting moments for a seeming eternity. Redmond's seduction of Lady Lyndon, for example, is a wordless sequence that travels from the gaming table to an outside veranda in a breathtaking ballet of glances, meaningful expressions, unspoken emotions, and quiet gestures. Social ritual fascinates Kubrick, and much of the drama of the story stems from the tension between violent passion and society's restrictive formalities.

    Yet it's not all filmic experimentation and weighty themes. "Barry Lyndon's" early, Ireland-set scenes feature stunning scenery and a lovely, lilting theme composed by that great Celtic band, the Chieftains. The humor is dry-as-dust and dark-as-midnight, the kind of humor Kubrick specializes in (remember a little satire called Dr. Strangelove?), as in the delightful exchange between Redmond and Captain Feeny, one of the most courtly-mannered robbers one is likely to encounter. As for Kubrick's purportedly "clinical" absence of emotion, there's a scene towards the end of the film between Redmond and his ailing young son that is emotionally devastating.

    Ryan O'Neal, never known as a great actor (to put it mildly), is nevertheless perfectly suited to the part of the rogue-ish Redmond Barry. As in the aforementioned scene with his son, O'Neal digs deep to give a powerful, convincing performance that maintains a high quality over the course of the movie's 3-hour running time. Though his Lucky Charms Irish accent comes and goes, O'Neal captures an essential innocence and sweetness to the character that allows the audience to keep with him through thick-and-thin. His social climbing doesn't seem so much the result of a Machiavellian plan as the result of spur-of-the-moment opportunism. In the climax of the film, a stunning duel that takes place in an abandoned barn, Redmond makes a choice that demonstrates the distance he's traveled from his first impetuous duel with the Englishman. In that moment, Redmond deserves the name of hero. O'Neal himself must have known Barry Lyndon was a career highlight: he named his son Redmond.

    Because of its slow pace and storytelling idiosyncracies, I'm always hesitant to recommend "Barry Lyndon." Yet I can't help myself. Though not for all tastes, "Lyndon" is that rare cinematic beast: a truly personal expression by a formidable artist. Its rewards are rich and abiding....more info
  • An underappreciated masterpiece; deserves to be on Blu-Ray
    I'm aware of the many criticisms leveled against this film, but I consider it to be one of Kubrick's finest, and it's one of my all-time favorite movies. Perhaps more than in any of his other films, he makes effective use of a seemingly endless stream of striking images and gorgeous music to create a highly atmospheric ambience.

    Unfortunately, the DVD transfer is substandard, with an apparently non-anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio that stretches out the image horizontally (at least on my LCD HDTV). The picture quality is not as clear as it should be, even allowing for the deliberately dark scenes shot only by candle-light. This film would look a lot better with a quality remastering.

    The audio is presented in reasonably good Dolby 5.1, but I'm hoping that when this film is remastered for Blu-Ray, it will receive a major improvement in the picture quality as well as a more robust audio track.

    People complain that Ryan O'Neal was somehow miscast or did a bad job of acting. I disagree. The main character in this film is a highly flawed human being who brings about his own downfall due to his various failings. That's part of the whole story. O'Neal portrays this character in a direct manner, without any attempts at eliciting false empathy from the audience.

    Another criticism some have made is that the film is too long and moves too slowly. The same criticism could be made about most other Kubrick films. Watching a Kubrick film is not like watching most films. He took a very long time to shoot his movies, and it seems clear that he expected viewers to be willing to spend time when watching them. He didn't make popcorn movies (though there's nothing wrong with them; sometimes you just want 90 minutes of rapid-fire action, appealing characters, and an event-filled plot).

    So, the film itself is a masterpiece, the DVD is substandard, and "Barry Lyndon" deserves a first-rate Blu-Ray transfer so that we can finally see the movie as it was meant to be seen.



    ...more info
  • Lavish production and an engaging story
    Having finally seen the film, I am now curious to read the novel. Kubrick's three-hour epic requires a bit of patience but it is worth all the time you will need to watch it. It is set in beautiful countrysides, with lovely costuming and makeup, as well as fine performances and an appropriate score. I would nickname it "The Rise and Fall of Barry," since that's exactly what happens: Ryan O'Neal portrays a poor Irishman who yearns for his cousin's affections but ends up having to leave town, joins the British military, and then becomes a spy when captured by Prussians. He builds his fortune by gambling and making social connections, but this leads to his downfall, as shown in the second half of the film.
    He marries a woman of means and has a son with her, but he does not truly love her or his stepson, whom he treats so badly that he sets in motion a series of events that lead to many misfortunes. By the end, Barry is a shattered man, having lost his leg after a duel with his stepson and having lost his biological son as well due to an accident. Needless to say, he loses his wife as well and is sent back to Ireland in disgrace.
    Call it a cautionary tale.
    ...more info
  • NOT ENHANCED> FIRST CUSTOMER COMMENT WAS WRONG
    Bought this dvd based on a review below which stated the dvd will be 16 x 9 enhanced. Now I find out it is the same remastered version I already own. I now have three versions of this film. Thanks a LOT!...more info
  • Kubrick's Masterpiece
    This film is Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece and one of the top movies of the last 50 years. It develops out of very unlikely material, and is entirely a product of Kubrick's driving, single minded will and control.

    Based on a William Thackery novel, the story is what used to be called in art and literature, "the rake's progress" -- take a low born rascal through a series of fortuitous episodes which land him in wealth, then watch his bad character unmake him through another series of episodes. The set-up reinforced social stereotypes inherent in the British class system; low bred men are inferior. Thackery was bigger than that, of course, but like all artists was a man of his time and the crack in the product widens with age -- here, the assumed genetic and social inferiority of an Irishman. Then you have fascinating stuff like decades long European wars, but nobody much is taught about this anymore. Kubrick picked a deck heavily stacked against him for this tour de force.

    And cinematic tour de force it is -- all shot in natural light, narrative (other than adjusting the 1st person voice of the novel to 3rd) straight out of its time. Nor does Kubrick update moods, dialogue, social assumptions like Amadeus -- he gives you a film that looks like it was actually shot 2 centuries ago, and impresses you with the absolute alienness of many of the characters. You are hit with how changeable human society is, and yes, very cooly distanced. Thus the pacing and emotional distance appall many viewers, who think this is because the picture has "dated" -- no, it was intended and designed to be exactly the way it is. To not understand this is to not understand the movie; one's dislike may be very genuine, but Kubrick's intentionality has a grand subtle effect: the tables are turned on Thackery's social determinism. And the film is so faithful to Thackery that Kubrick here delivers a major lesson: the only difference is placing a camera in it. One must remember that Kubrick started out as a photographer and that art is central to his entire ethos and point of view. Thus too, the silent but spectacular visual message goes, pictures now make us appalled by the tragedy of war, by the realities of racial and social discrimination -- the camera itself is at near the root of many modern revolutions.

    While the rake remains a rake, O'Neal brings wit to the part under Kubrick's tutelage and a large degree of empathy. Barry Lyndon -- a character now captured on film, no longer just the page -- is seen caught in an invisible social matrix, not only in the assumed inferiority of his origins. The camera focuses uncompromisingly on lords, kings, soldiers, ladies, 18th century con men, roadside bandits -- all. The mercilessness of the whole enterprise would be wholly unpalatable but for the splendour and fullness of life recreated here, and the fire of Kubrick's eccentric passion to portray it.

    Memorable scenes are too many to catalogue; every performance is great, some despite the distance of time and vision are absolutely wrenching. Child actors, a Kubrick specialty, were never used better by him. If, all said, the film lacks the glow of love and humanism, the compensation is heavy wisdom and a startling piece of learning. With this film, Kubrick establishes the camera not only as a step forward in technology, but a teacher fit to take its place next to the pen, the violin, the artist's canvas....more info
  • Almost like being there
    This work is a beautiful production. The scenery, costumes and lighting are superb. Admittedly, some of the situations and clothing are rather comical viewed from the 21st century, and I spent much of the time on the verge of laughing. "Demanding satisfaction" certainly would be understood differently today. I enjoyed most of the story. It just keeps getting better and better -- until the intermission. I would like to rewrite the whole last part but perhaps it would be just too Hollywood and not true to the novel. So it should remain as it stands after all. In my rewatching of the DVD I just turn it off when the intermission comes. But I do watch it again and again....more info
  • Kubrick's fascinating, audacious masterpiece
    This is the picareque tale of Barry Lyndon set in Eighteenth century Europe. Filled with Kubrick trademarks - stunning imagery, superb use of music, meticulous attention to detail - and it all works brilliantly. Indeed this may well be Kubrick's greatest achievement on film. Ryan O'Neal is excellent as the eponymous Irish rogue, although interestingly, Lyndon fades into the background about three-quarters of the way through with the film shifting instead to focus on those around him. Barry Lyndon is exciting, one-of-a-kind film-making - riveting to watch despite it's three hour length.

    Contrary to other reviewers concerns this DVD is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1. The DVD has no extras....more info
  • LET THE BUYER BEWARE
    By reading the other reviews, I appear not to be the first consumer who fell prey to the new box cover. Despite the new artwork that says "Newly Restored and Remastered", this is the same master as the previous versions. I had previously purchased the earlier version (letterboxed and poor quality). I had been waiting for a newly mastered version, and when I saw this new artwork (and that all of the other Warner Kubrick titles had been remastered for enhanced 16X9 viewing), I figured that BARRY LYNDON had also been. My big mistake and my great disappointment. So much for truth in packaging. ...more info
  • After taste was not paritcularly pleasant
    Does it make any sense to make such a beautiful movie, just to state a trivial truth that there are 1000s ways for a man to screw his own life?
    ...more info
  • The most beautiful movie I've ever seen.
    It took a few viewings of Barry Lyndon for me to really grasp it, but then again, this is just like every other Kubrick movie.

    By the time I accepted the slow, methodical nature of Kubrick's direction, along with the 3 hour running time, I began to realize what makes this movie arguably Kubrick's finest.

    Simply put, Barry Lyndon is the most beautiful film that I know of, and I've seen many films at this point. No hyperbole, no exaggeration. This movie is gorgeous, and that is a severe understatement.

    There are scenes in this movie that will move you to tears, they are so beautiful. The stunning lighting (and you can read about how Kubrick managed this elsewhere online), the lavish and overwhelmingly complex sets and costume designs, the use of incredible classical music, the ever-present brilliance of Kubrick's direction: this movie is truly an auteur at his most self-indulgent. I mean, really, the colors that Kubrick captures are mind-boggling; so many awe-inspiring uses of purple and orange and blue...it left me speechless. Some may frown upon an artist catering to that kind of self-indulgence, but for those like me, you will welcome an artist who has given full-reign to his/her imagination and has the talent to make it happen.

    Of course, it is easy to overlook the many other fabulous aspects of this film. One thing that is often overlooked in Kubrick films is the phenomenal acting abilities he managed to get out of his actors, and the emotional depth that he captures (while constantly being criticized as cold and unemotional). To those who hold this opinion, I would ask that you witness Ryan O'Neal's heartbreaking performance as Barry Lyndon. He is wonderful.

    While 2001 and Dr. Strangelove may vie for the best of Kubrick's unmatched career, and while I am partial to 2001's magnificence and inimitability, the objective observer in me must admit that Barry Lyndon, while certainly Kubrick's most underappreciated film, is probably his best. Stay awake!!, and you'll be treated to some fabulous performances and scene after scene filled with images that will be burned into your brain....more info
  • Another Kubrick film that manages to leave a visual impression
    Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon is a spectacle, full of luscious visuals, extraordinary costumes, and a very aggressive underlying theme of cheating, and losing at life. This is not a contender for Kubrick's top five films of all time, and for good reason, but regardless, this film put me in a trance from beginning to end. I had not read William Makepeace Thackeray's novel beforehand, so I honestly cannot add to the discussion of whether or not this is a proper adaptation, or if O'Neal's performance was right for the character. I will however say what I saw, and that is a movie with Kubrick's visual style stamped on every single shot.

    The story is a rise to riches tragedy revolving around the life of an Irish lad by the name of Redmond Barry. As a teen we are first introduced to his character as one who shares a romantic relationship with his cousin, Nora Brady. When Nora is set to marry British military Captain John Quin, the naive Barry retaliates confronting the captain to a duel, which ultimately drives him away from his town, mother, and Nora.

    This starts Barry's long adventure to "becoming a gentleman". Along the way he shall be robbed, enlist in the British army, serve in the Seven Year War, and become a professional gambler. He'll finally acquire wealth beyond his wildest dreams when he manages to court Lady Lyndon, after her husband, Sir Lyndon, finally dies from years of crippling disease. This starts a vengeful relationship between him and his acquired stepson, Lord Bullingdon. From here on out Barry's ultimate demise becomes inevitable as his life falls apart into tragedy, mostly due to his own actions.

    As stated earlier by myself, Barry Lyndon is one of the most expertly shot films I have ever seen. The visuals alone make this one of the best movies I've ever seen, but it is not at all a perfect movie. Sadly none of Kubrick's films are "perfect", but that's intentional by the director, and no one comes closer to making perfect movies than Stanley Kubrick. Though he's never really made a film with truly captivating human characters, his stories, and underlying messages have always been the strongest aspects of his films.

    Kubrick's dislike for humanity is as present as it ever was in his other films, even if not as strong as say `2001 - A Space Odyssey'. Barry is always displayed as being a character that seems to be...well, he's hollow. Barry is a man who hardly ever shows emotion, and once he is at the top you can't help but feel as though his mannerisms are that of a spoiled child. You never really grow attachment to this character, and the narrator makes sure of that, which makes it apparent that Kubrick never intended you to grow truly fond of Barry, so when he ultimately is left poor and crippled you can't truly feel for him.

    That being said, Ryan O'Neal's Barry is not to be confused with a "cardboard character", like what you see in 80% of summer action films. He's actually quite complicated, the only thing he ever shows passion for being the well-being of his son, Bryan. The way he takes everything for granted, from Lady Lyndon, to his wealth, he just seems to not care about anything, other than his young son, who he spoils by treating him to whatever he desires. This makes it apparent that the thing Barry loves most will be taken away from him in a cruel fashion.

    I'm not spoiling anything, because the ultimately, tragic ending of Barry's life is given away by the Narrator's first few comments over the course of the first hour of the film (and if you don't catch it there he'll announce it bluntly in the last forth of the film).

    When going into this film you shouldn't expect for something truly compelling, nor should you expect Barry to be an average Joe, whom you can relate to. The movie is in no way intended for you to leave it with a smile on your face. Don't go to a Kubrick film and expect a film that's intended to leave you happy (Even Dr. Strangelove, one of the best comedies of all time, had an ending that made you speculate the future of the human race).

    If you are new to Kubrick, these negative plot points may drive you away, but if you are familiar with his work Barry Lyndon will not surprise you in its underlying themes. That being said, for people who are fond of period pieces, there are few movies that I've seen that can match the visual style of Kubrick's film. While watching it you will feel swept away by the Academy Award winning cinematography of John Alcott and the costumes, which also earned one of the films four Academy Awards.

    Leonard Rosenman's winning score must also be acknowledged, for it also makes this film an attention grabber. The music is never overused, and if feels perfect for the film. It is full of elegance, something that could stand for the upper class which Barry tries so hard to be a part of, but beneath its beauty you can feel a sense of treachery, and corruption, which perfectly reflects the ruthless behavior Barry tries so hard to conceal beneath a fa?ade of grace, but ultimately fails to keep it suppressed.

    The film is a must see for Kubrick, and fans of period pieces, but if you don't fall into one of those two categories Barry Lyndon may be hard for you to stomach, with its running time of about three hours. You may enjoy this film, but it seriously depends on how you take in Kubrick's other work. If time's a problem you can watch this film in intervals, because there are plenty of chances throughout to pause and take a break. If you want to watch Barry Lyndon you'll need to pay it full attention. It is better to watch it in intervals than watch it straight through while being distracted. It needs full attention for you to take in its full impact.

    Not Kubrick's best, but I give it a solid 9 out of 10.
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  • Wait For The High-Def 16x9 Release
    In 1975, one reviewer in Europe said: "One collapses in one's seat and is propelled in a state of drunken euphoria." That's just how I felt about it, going back to experience "Barry Lyndon" over and over again at the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles in '75-76. So, for the movie, 5 stars. For this disc: 3 (because it's not 16x9).
    Apparently, the 16x9 version is coming. Before you get your hopes up too much, the only info I have on this is a seemingly knowledgeable Amazon customer review of the new boxed set of 16x9 Kubrick DVDs, which was released without "Barry Lyndon." The reviewer said Warners is working on a High Def 16x9 of "Barry," but it wasn't ready in time to include it in the new boxed set for Christmas. Hopefully, this means we can expect the 16x9 DVD, HD DVD and Blue-Ray "Barry Lyndon" sometime after the new year (2008).
    Having just watched the new 16x9 Hi-Def DVDs of "Eyes Wide Shut" and "A Clockwork Orange" (and having watched the old standard-def DVDs a number of times), I can say that Hi-Def makes a big, important difference with Kubrick's movies -- not simply because they are gorgeously photographed, but because the texture and richness of the images conveys so much essential, visceral meaning that a degraded image (i.e., standard-definition) actually impairs the work's emotional clarity and expressiveness.
    Short of a new 35mm print, a 16x9 Hi-Def disc displayed on a big 1080 set in a dark room, uninterrupted, is the way to watch Kubrick. I can't wait to see "Barry Lyndon" again, in high definition. It's bound to be magnificent....more info
  • evil is timeless
    this is a movie about a self obsessed man who through trial and mostly error , deceit , bullying gains rise above his social status. his triumphs are only mirrored by the tragedys.based on a thackery novel, stanley kubrick makes his most perfect film here , if a bit too long the dialogue is authentic , the symbolism , frightening, and the ending tragic/comical.scenes to watch for include the look on captain feeneys face , a leering sneer of a highwayman complete with broken bottle specs and cold sores on his lips.almost hallucinogenic .barry lyndon is a man who will stop at nothing to create his own world and then lose it . the most unforgettable scene is the climactic duel between him and his son, most intense. a gem of a film ....more info
  • After taste was not paritcularly pleasant
    Does it make any sense to make such a beautiful movie, just to state a trivial truth that there are 1000s ways for a man to screw his own life?
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  • It's a pleasure to sit through such a beautiful film such as this
    This film is seriously neglected in the Kubrick universe (only Eyes Wide Shut is neglected more), and it's a damn shame, as it is not only his most underrated film, it is also a masterpiece. It is one of the most breathtaking beautiful films ever committed to celluloid. The photography alone is enough to see it (try to see it in a theater). As Kubrick afficionados know, the scenes that were lit by candlelight were actually shot with only candlelight. There were no other lights used. In these scenes, the actors don't move about too much, as there wasn't much depth of field, because of the special lenses that Kubrick used here. They were designed specifically for this film. Christianne Kubrick, Stanley's widow, said this was her favorite film of Stanley's, as the framing is reminiscent of paintings of the period, and Christianne is a renowned painter whose paintings were used in many of her late husband's films (like A Clockwork Orange and Eyes Wide Shut). Ryan O'Neal is quite good as Barry, a scoundrel and a cheat who gets his comeuppance by the end of the film. Leon Vitali (who went on to become Kubrick's personal assistant up until Kubrick died) is astonshingly good as Lord Bullingdon, Barry's stepson and nemesis. The duel scenes (especially the 2nd one) are small masterpieces of editing, sound, and music design. Despite the film being 3 hours, it is never boring, and there's so much to take in visually the 3 hours flies by. It's a pleasure to sit through such a beautiful film such as this. The film, despite being directed by the American Kubrick, has a uniquely British feel to it, enhanced by the brilliant cast of English actors, many of whom appeared in other Kubrick films (Philip Stone, Godfrey Quigley, Patrick Magee, Anthony Sharp, Steven Berkoff, and Leonard Rossiter). Kubrick shot almost all of the film on location in castles in England and Ireland. There were hardly any sets used. The film won several Academy Awards (though not for Kubrick himself). It won for cinematography, art direction, and music score. This film was rarely mentioned by critics and film people (I remember reading about it in the World Book Encyclopedia of all things), but it's getting some long overdue recognition, and hopefully it will continue... ...more info
  • An under appreciated masterwork
    I am still waiting for the Blu-Ray version, as this is just another crappy letterbox version like before. I want the anamorphic 16X9 (1:66.1) Blu-Ray!! Sorry to anyone who bought this before based on my review. The box said it was remastered 16 X 9!

    This is a 3 hour film, and it won 4 Academy awards (cinematography, production design, costumes, and adapted score). Also nominated for Best Picture and Director 1975 (losing to "Cuckoo's Nest" in both).

    It is well worth seeing as it is beautiful to look at, camera zooming in and out to shots that look like paintings. The pace is slow and deliberate, like "2001" and "Eyes Wide Shut", a bit cold emotionally, too. But you can pause it if need be. Well worth your time.

    I hope that Warner Bros gives us the Blu-Ray version soon! It deserves to be seen in the best quality possible!...more info
  • Like a dream, like a painting brought to wonderful life
    "Barry was one of those born clever enough in gaining a fortune, but incapable of keeping one, for the qualities and energies which lead a man to achieve the first are often the very cause of his ruin in the latter case."

    This is the theme, spoken by an unseen narrator, which runs through at the very center of Stanley Kubrick's majestic historical epic "Barry Lyndon." Following a string of three masterworks, which, conventional wisdom has dictated, represent the creative peak of Kubrick's legendary career as a filmmaker, it was Thackeray's novel about the rise and fall of a young Irish scoundrel who rises the ranks of 18th century English nobility that the enigmatic artist chose to set his sights. Conventional wisdom also tells us that, beginning with "Barry Lyndon" in 1975 and as further pronounced in 1980 with the release of his horror opus "The Shining," Kubrick's work began to display a diminished artistic resonance. These films, the feeling goes, lacked the visionary, complex implications of "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the insightful social commentary of "A Clockwork Orange." Kubrick must simply be losing his touch, right? Well, not really. Although it may apply to "The Shining" and Kubrick's subsequent works, the conventional wisdom, as applied to "Barry Lyndon," is wrong. Or, should I say, it WAS wrong. That is, until time alone was able to be the final judge of the film's legacy. Fortunately, subsequent critical revisiting of the film led many to finally come around to appreciate "Barry Lyndon" and regard it as the rich and giant masterpiece that it is.

    Kubrick himself was perhaps such a divisive and misunderstood artist due to his desire to tell stories against the grain of the usual approach. Unlike traditional film narratives, which most often focus on human relationships and manipulate our emotions through drama and conflict, Kubrick concerned himself on much larger themes. He was most often interested in man's relationship to his society, and explored themes of broader conflict. His dramas were not sentimentalized and narrowed by character conflicts alone, but always examined the implications of these characters and conflicts to the shaping of the course of society and humanity.

    FILM ANALYSIS:

    If for nothing else, Kubrick's film cannot be denied as a stunning example of visual achievement. Quite simply, it is one of the most sumptuous, haunting, majestic, and gorgeous cinematic experiences ever realized. Richard Schickel, the highly distinguished TIME magazine film critic, who did a cover story of the film prior to its general release, praised it as "perhaps the most ravishing set of images ever printed on a single strip of celluloid." The landscapes are epic and breathtaking, the interiors rich and elegant, and each shot composed with a painter's eye for design and detail. It is no surprise that Kubrick found his visual inspiration in 18th century paintings and even went so far as to pose his actors just as subjects in certain paintings were positioned. Additionally, the costume and sets are impeccably designed (so much so that they garnered Oscar wins, as did the photography and the music), and Kubrick's use of classical music further heightens the sense of high art and elegance. All of these production elements, coupled with a cast of actors who are in tune with the material and who embody the director's keen sense of genuine human qualities, bring to screen life an era in history with an authenticity that is often attempted but rarely ever accomplished so vividly. It is not a dull and ancient past, but a living, breathing present that we are immersed in.

    As with most of Kubrick's work, after going through this journey, it is not the triumph of speech or spirit that remains with us, not the wit and wisdom of dialogue nor the emotional connection between people. It is purely the magical, visceral impact of the visuals that remains in our mind, and Kubrick puts great care into making everything count. It is the slow zooms that reveal the larger context, the landscapes, sometimes liberating, often just as oppressive. It is the nuance of a facial expression, the gleem in the eye, the empty gaze, the way that light plays off people and objects. It is the quite moments that reveal so much more than any words could ever justify. It is the music that brings mood and texture to the many varying states of emotion.

    Kubrick, as well, is not up to his usual bag of tricks here. In his previous film, "A Clockwork Orange," he utilized a great many devices (i.e. slow motion, fast motion, fantasy, expressionistic acting, outerwordly sound effects) to create a bizzare and nightmarish sense of reality. In this film, however, the cinematic trickery is downplayed, as is necassary for the more elegant feel of the material, and the ever confident master artist takes great care in the more "pure" and classical elements of film storytelling that take root in the silent era. Each scene, each shot even, is deliberately executed with precise and flawless use of composition, lighting, sound, editing, and staging. Notice, for example, how the tension of the final climactic duel is so carefully escalated by the use of sound (pigeons in the rafters), music (a subtle underscore), and editing (the careful cuts back and forth between two faces), or how various pieces of music pronounce the transitions in Barry's life throughout the film.

    CHARACTER ANALYSIS:

    Through the journey of Redmond Barry (played with brilliant subtlety and understated turmoil by Ryan O' Neal), Kubrick is able to communicate themes of moral decay, decadence, and duplicity that exist in the attainment of power and social privilege. As we follow Barry's life, from a na?ve and idealistic young Irishman, with little money and no prospects, to his rise as the cruel and treacherous Lord of the Lyndon manor, and finally to a beaten and broken man, crushed under the weight of his own inadequacies, we come to understand the dimensions of a man who has the skill and ruthless ambition necessary to use circumstances to his advantage. Ultimately, however, Barry's rise to power and fortune place him in a world this beyond his means, by which his incompetence is displayed in his squandering of the Lyndon fortune and the destruction of his own reputation. In a single moment of explosive rage between stepfather and stepson, a family quarrel that plays itself out in front of horrified spectators of London's high society, Barry begins to feel that weight bear down on him. Kubrick communicates this with a zoom out as Barry stands alone on the grand balcony, a distant figure, weak and vulnerable, overwhelmed by his great castle and by great responsibilities.

    It is interesting, though, that Kubrick places judgment not only on Barry, who is admittedly a dishonest rascal, but also upon the society in which his characters exist. "Gentlemen may talk of the age of chivalry," says our omniscient narrator, speaking in a jovial British manner that only faintly masks the sarcastic brand of cynicism hiding just below the surface. Instantly, his point is clear to us. Humanity can be a cruel beast, in any age and under any circumstance, even a chivalrous one. What's more, Barry is a mere product of his age of "chivalry" and is not the only scoundrel who is able to cheat his way to the top of the social food chain. The classical scoring also adds an ironic contrast and counterpoint between the fa?ade of nobility and the debauchery that many characters play a role in. Working with this theme, Kubrick, with a distinctive sense of characterization and human behavior, allows us to understand what makes a man (and perhaps mankind itself) proficient enough to acquire power, privilege, and political clout, often through immoral conduct, and how he comes to destroy these institutions and himself.

    There is also the question of Barry's underlying motives. What is really behind this obsessive need to become a proper "gentleman," a title which takes on an ambiguous context as we discover certain facts about the inner-workings of the nobility. One gets a sense that there exists a deep rooted inferiority complex with Barry's character. Perhaps due to his underprivileged upbringing, or even due to the envy of not having the distinction of British pedigree (suggested in his joining the British army), Barry seems driven by resentment, self-loathing, and the need for acceptance. There is not one clear conviction that defines his quest, only a need to be perceived as something that he is not: a proper gentleman and dignified member of the privileged class. Our narrator questions the role of fate in Barry's rise to such fortune, but Kubrick ultimately seems to leave doubt to the credence of such ideas. Ultimately, it seems that, even when luck is on our side, when the grand gamble goes our way as it were, and we find ourselves in the favor of fate, there is no guarantee that the natural drives of humanity (in Barry's case, a self-destructive ambition for wealth and status) will favor our ability to maintain our good fortune. Man, after all, by the very flaw of his character, has the ability to be the ruin of his own way of life. Perhaps it can be seen as a warning to the rise to power of those who are incapable of acting with morality and prudence. Perhaps not. As with all of Kubrick's work, it does not lend itself to easy answers, only to immensely rewarding viewing, reviewing, and discussing...
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  • Wonderful period piece
    Don't go into this expecting the Shining, Full Metal Jacket, or even Eyes Wide Shut. Barry Lyndon 'is' however a 'Wonderful period-piece'; stunning cinematography, and superb set design make the film a victorian masterpiece that echoes the era in marvelous fashion. Kubrick delivers again; a must for all serious film enthusiasts!...more info