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- Time to correct and enhance the DVD
It would be nice if someone could reissue the DVD with enhanced, repaired color and grain. Kubrick wanted Barry Lyndon to have a 'washed out' look but the DVD displays the clearly visible degradation of the original film negative.The same could be said for the 2001 DVD. Perhaps HD versions are already on their way!...more info
The film portrays an unusual young Irish man, Redmond Barry, and his endeavours as he is forced to leave his home and tries to make good his life elsewhere. His life away from home starts out as a career in the British Army; only to evolve in surprising ways and lead to as different places as a position of trust within the Prussian Army and later a title of nobility, gained by what our time can only measure as rather disgraceful means. "Barry Lyndon is", amidst Kubricks' many masterpieces, a film so easily dismissed due to length and the fact that it is overshadowed by others, but I deeply recommend this film to anyone who would like to see a film both for the plot line, the story and the pure enjoyment of the images presented. Stanley Kubrick made many great films and this one is most definitely one of them! It's a pity Kubrick stopped making epics after this. Look at the ones he's responsible for: "Spartacus" (not a project Kubrick was fond of, admittedly, but still the most magnificent of all Roman epics) "2001" (the most magnificent of ALL epics), and "Barry Lyndon". The last of the three is by no means a poor cousin....more info
- Realistic period film
Watching this movie was like going back in time 230 years. Kubrick's cinematography is superb; his use of natural lighting and stunningly beautiful European settings are quite impressive. Critics of the film will invariably point out the flatness of the characters, slow pace of the film, and the length (3 hours). There is some truth to these criticisms, but the total experience is well worth the investment of time. There are so many mediocre films put out nowadays, you might as well watch something intelligent, well-made, and historically instructive versus the same predictable movie template that is made 10 times per year. Watching this film feels like reading a great classic novel....more info
- I saw BL twice(!) the month it came out - in 1975...
I was already a devoted Kubrick fan - after all, "Dr Strangelove", "2001" and "Clockwork Orange" all debuted within the previous 10 years (my teens). In the months preceeding the release of Barry Lyndon I read about several aspects of the filmmaking that piqued my anticipation - and ultimately contributed to my lifelong appreciation for this film: 1. The fact that Kubrick assisted in the development of lenses of heretofore unequaled sensitivity in order to film numerous interior scenes by natural or candlelight; 2. That he chose as subject matter a novel (by Thackery), that the author himself had so disliked that he discouraged its publication during his lifetime; and 3. I read that Kubrick had listened to "every" extant period composition for quartet to choose the accompanying soundtrack. Sure, I was as skeptical as anyone as to how Ryan O'neill - Mr "Love Story" - could possibly have the gravitas for a Kubrickian character, and I knew going in that it was 3+ hours long... but I was hypnotized from the opening frame. The pacing, the sardonic narration, the breathtaking cinematography, the unerring score. Certainly my affinities for photography and art history were thoroughly rewarded, but I also found the storytelling strangely compelling as well. Which is why I sat through the film twice, on the BIG screen, within the first few weeks that it opened. As an insight into my cinematic preferences, the only other film that I recall seeing twice within the first few weeks of release, was "Natural Born Killers"... The soundtrack to BL is also highly recommended....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
- Exquisite historical story and detail
One of Stanley Kubrick's best movies; also one of Ryan O'Neal's best. Period details are exquisite and lush, on par with Merchant & Ivory films. It helps to be familiar with English history to be truly comfortable with the long, slow story, the point of the narration, and the complex layers of society with the story set in 1844; however, one doesn't need to be a history buff to appreciate all the technical merits of this extraordinary film. This film will definitely transport the viewer to a different time in space...Kubrick's specialty. ...more info
- Like Paintings Come-To-Life!
Some movies - I wish there were more of them - simply look like a series of great paintings. This film has that look. You could freeze-frame many of the scenes and swear you were looking at a Gainsborough, a Vermeer, a Hogarth or similar work of art by one the great artists of three to five centuries ago. It just's beautiful stuff. I hope a Blu-Ray of this is done soon and released as this film is worthy of a great, high-definition disc.
For the visuals, we have Director Stanley Kubrick and Photographer John Alcott to thank. Being a three-hour movie, there are plenty of wonderful shots to admire, too. In addition, the costumes are lavish and authentic and the scoring is notable. It's no accident that Oscars were garnered for art/set direction, cinematography, costume design and scoring. Yeah, if you enjoy classical music, you'll really enjoy the soundtrack, toom under the guidance of conductor Leonard Roseman.
Not to be overlooked is the fine acting and the interesting and underrated story. I say "underrated" because this film, from what I've read, bored a lot of people and and it was a box-office flop. That's too bad because, frankly, I found the story (outside of the first 10--15 minutes) to be fascinating. As I watched, I kept wondering what strange occurrences will happen next to the lead character, "Redmond Barry/Barry Lyndon," played beautifully by Ryan O'Neal. (For most of the movie, he's called "Redmond Barry," so I will refer to him as that.)
In the end, this was a low-key adventure story about the rise-and-fall of a "scoundrel" back in late 18th century Englishman. "Mr. Barry" is an Irishmen living in England who winds up dealing with a number of people: Irish, English, Prussian, French. His dealings with these people are bizarre at times. While he mainly is shown doing what he can to promote himself, for either monetary gain and prestige of a name and power, he's not all bad. There is a compassionate side to him, but it only shows itself in small doses. It makes him all the more interesting to watch, because you don't always know how he's going to react to his circumstances, which change radically every few years.
We witness his rise to prominence and then his fall when his "sins begin to find him out," as the Bible would describe. It's quite a roller coaster ride.
This is an emotional, involving story, and a feast for the eyes and ears. It's quite different, too, certainly not the average fare from Kubrick. I can only hope this comes out on a high-definition disc some day. Admirers of this film need to see this in all its glory....more info
- "The Lyndon Lens"
This neglected Kubrick classic, based on Thackeray's picaresque novel about the rise and fall of a wild Irish boy in 18th-century Europe, is a gorgeous study in the beauties of light and stillness. You could probably say that about all of Kubrick's films but the formal elements stand out especially strongly here, where there's not as tight a narrative---or an actor as charismatic as Jack Nicholson, Malcolm MacDowell, James Mason, or Peter Sellers---to pull you along as there are in some of his other films.
Kubrick resolved to film with exclusively natural light, a challenge for any director but especially tough when you're shooting a period piece by night in grand European castles. Kubrick's devotion (obsession?) was such that he had a special lens created---now known as the Lyndon Lens---for shooting the candlelit night scenes. Many of the exterior shots are set up in deliberate imitation of 18th-century landscape paintings, and at times the film resembles a moving painting more than a talking picture. Seeing a picture shot in natural light, where shadows shift and move at random across the actors' faces, reminds you just how artificial the "normal" light in movies really is.
While the visuals are through-the-roof great, and set a new standard for costume dramas, I had a harder time caring about the story. I couldn't figure out what drew Kubrick to Thackeray's novel; it didn't seem to touch on his pet themes as clearly as some of his more famous films. Maybe he was attracted to the duels: there's something about the combination of brutality & violence with the civilized trappings of rules, codes of honor, and glamorous hardware that reminded me a little of "A Clockwork Orange" and "2001." Ryan O'Neal does a fine job as Barry, but he seemed to disappear once he married the rich widow and the story lost a lot of its interest for me after that. Warts and all, it's a memorable movie by an undisputed genius of film.
- 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
- THE ULTIMATE ANTI-HERO IN A STUNNING PERIOD EPIC
IN A NUTSHELL:
This is true 5-Star entertainment where virtually everything is done to perfection.
A synopsis of this film tends to trivialize it. Everything about Barry Lyndon -- the sets, costumes, lighting, narration, pacing, intrigue, romance, battle scenes, espionage, duels and treachery -- is stunning and framed with precise narration by Michael Hordern. Ryan O'Neal gives his most sensational-yet-measured performance in his greatest role.
Ryan O'Neal is Redmond Barry & Barry Lyndon. Like the film, he rises to unexpected heights although his heights are of infamy and honor, a strange combination.
WHAT IT IS:
This is the tale of the salient moments of the "Rise And Fall" of an unimportant rogue. However, Redmond Barry [later Barry Lyndon] is certainly not without his contridictions and qualities. These tend to reveal themselves at times when the cowards and mice among him are reeling from the moment as Redmond shows undeniable courage and honor.
Nevertheless, he is a scoundrel, a cad, a rogue, and an S.O.B., as well as a basically unlikable human being. Nevertheless, his rise and fall clearly demonstrates that people are neither all good nor all bad, a point that was driven home at the film's climax. I thoroughly felt that Redmond was a better man than the people he was trying to win over and gain acceptance from. But, that's just my opinion. It is possible to see this man and his journey through life as many things at many times and this is where the film shines.
The battle scenes were unbelievably authentic-looking and everything about the film said, "This really is happening in the 18th century." The film rolls and we know that THIS IS REAL - VERY REAL!
WHAT REALLY DISTINGUISHES "BARRY LYNDON" Directed by Stanley Kubrick?:
As all the components of the scenes build a life for Redmond, we feel empathy for a man who might not otherwise be worthy of it. Stanley Kubrick eliminates any notion of sentiment or nostalgia and we see the naked truth. People are as they are rather than as they would like to be or like to be remembered. As the film rolls this suddenly becomes very poignant and then, somehow, the 3-hour-plus film is over all too soon. We want things to turn out differently and perhaps better for Redmond the rogue.
SOMETHING IN COMMON WITH KUROSAWA'S RASHOMON:
This empathy we feel is probably because the characters he crosses swords with are not valiant, honorable, or courageous in much the same way the victims were not all-goodness in Kurosawa's Rashomon. In Rashomon, we felt some empathy for the "rapist-murderer" for many of the same reasons. Unlike "Rashomon", which was the depiction of the interpretation of one incident, "Barry Lyndon" is seen in a rich full world depicted in color and literally filled up with everything we need to see and to understand the complex era of the Thirty Years War in Europe and decades, not hours, of the protagonist's journey through life.
"Barry Lyndon" like "Rashomon" depicts a world without the classic John Wayne sort of hero with whom to contrast our anti-heros. In such a world, much like the real world, Ryan O'Neal as Redmond Barry like Toshir? Mifune as Taj?maru [Rashomon] are relatively more worthy of respect as human beings based on the qualities of their characters that are revealed. In other words, such anti-heros look much better when we witness their confrontations with more human opponents like "Lord Bullingdon" without the larger-than-life fictional heros to skew our perspectives.
ABOUT THE DVD:
This is a sensational Widescreen transfer. The only feature, however, is Screen Selector....more info
- This movie is very philosophical. I loved it. I almost cried.
This is truly a spectacular film, but not for the reasons typically mentioned--such as the great cinematography or fantastic directing (although both are splendid). What makes this film particularly good is the abstract story that is told. This story is about the central principle that you are in control of your own life. Even if you start with humble beginnings, you have the opportunity to rise through the ranks and be someone significant. (And in this case, it has to do with entering into nobility--no easy task!) The second half of the movie has to do with Lyndon's downfalls. This shows that even a person who rises through the ranks and is popular and wealthy can have a serious of setbacks. Once you are at the top, there is no guarantee that you will always remain there....more info
- One of Kubrick's Best
One of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen with outstanding costumes, sets and oscar worthy cinematography.
Lyndon is the ultimate anti-hero. Rising in class during the rise and fall of aristocracy in 18th century England. But when he marries a beautiful countess (Elizabeth Berenson) his greed gets in the way of his better judgement and is eventually his undoing. It's hard to find sympathy for Lyndon in the end.After all he was a cheating, lying, no-good money waster.
Aside from th plot we must look at the bigger picture. This is a superbly well directed film and I give a lot of credit to Kubrick for trying such an abitious task. Despite the critics I thought Ryan O'Neal did a great job as the hard to like Barry Lyndon. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the beautiful Elizabeth Berenson who must rely on her good looks to get a standard perfomance.
Even with all those compliments the real credit goes to Leonard Rosenman for adapting his second Academy Award winning score. It's haunting and compelling. Happy and sad. Emotinal and Entrancing. It is one of the best scores in all of movie history and I find myself buying the soundtrack right now!
Despite the somewhat draging script and lack of main characters I find this film a masterpiece. There is some arguing with Kubrick fans if it is or not. It is.
It must have been strange for Kubrick fans when this came out. Having made such outstanding science fiction epics as 2001: A Space Odyseey and A Clockwork Orange (I Reccomend Both) you expected something out of this world and it to light up the screen. No one expected a period drama about a new Tom Jones in 18th Century England. It is more than that. It's a moving epic and slow moving spectacle that will stay with me forever.
I hope I see more films Like this....more info
- Barry Lyndon
I suspect most readers have a list of authors who they've heard of, and perhaps even quoted, but never read. My list includes William Makepeace Thackeray. However, now I've seen the film. I recommend it highly. 1975, directed by Stanley Kubrick, starring Ryan O'Neal and some folks with talent.
This is a sweeping story of one man's life in the 18th century. A poor Irish lad aspires to English aristocracy, whereas the author enjoys skewering that aristocracy. Thackeray's narrative is featured in the film, and it's a delight. Wry wit, lovely understatement, satiric and sly with only a hint of cynicism. Cynicism's gloomy. We can be perceptive without it. Well, I can't, but Thackeray can. I love it.
During the 90 minutes before the intermission, I was astounded by Ryan O'Neal's lack of range. But hey, he looked pretty and he remembered his dialogue. This is an ensemble piece, so no more was needed from him. However, in the second 90 minutes, he grew into the part. That was more impressive than his hair.
Stanley Kubrick was almost invisible. He let Thackeray's writing and the actors' acting do all the talking. Since that was the best way to present this, Kubrick impressed me yet again. There's a reason this film won four Oscars, and I highly recommend it.
- 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
- Great Story, Great Director, Great Movie
No problems here with this release. No real special features, but at least it's not one of those crappy snap cases.
Anyway, cinematography is A+, as well as the acting. This is one of the greater films from Stanley Kubrick because of its incredible story telling. It's long, but it's all good content. Watch this if you wanna see somethin' good....more info
- One of the finest films that I have ever seen!
I had known about BARRY LYNDON for a while, and it was one of those films that I always wanted to see, yet wanted to wait for the right time to watch it. Well, I just watched it today, and I have to say that I loved it! I would consider it one of Kubrick's best films. However, it seems to be slightly underrated. I have no idea why...the film is perfect in every way, from the direction, the acting, the score, and the lighting (yes, the lighting). It's one of the most beautiful films that you will ever see.
Ryan O'Neill is wonderful as Redmond Barry, an Irishman who falls into high society during his life, which ultimately spirals out of control near the end. This film has the feel of a great novel. At three hours, the pacing is brilliant, and you will find that it flies by in no time at all. The story is so engrossing and the characters so well drawn, that I can't imagine anyone having a hard time sitting through it in it's entirety. Most of the criticisms for this film were mostly related to the pacing. This, I do not understand. A film like this needs to be told in three hours. If you are impatient when it comes to films such as this, which are epic in nature, I would still encourage you to give it a try.
I simply cannot tell you enough: see it! You will not regret it. It is definitely a film that you will never forget. ...more info
- 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
- Pretty as a Picture. Not the novel. Too long, but enjoyable.
I have always loved the writings of William Makepeace Thackeray, especially when I am not in a hurry to be rushed through a novel. I had never watched the film by Stanley Kubrick until this morning, and I had a lot of mixed feelings about it. Kubrick wrote the screenplay, and it is definitely not the Thackeray novel, especially when it comes to character intent, several plotlines and even the viewpoint, as the novel is first person; so this is Thackeray ala Kubrick first off, and that's okay. Kubrick's take on Barry Lyndon, though, left me very chilled and detached from the character, unlike the book....and Ryan O'Neal's portrayal did nothing but pull me further away.
The film is so beautifully photographed and the set design so amazing, that I was able to endure the 183 minutes of constant brooding looks by Ryan O'Neal as Barry Lyndon. The film seemed ponderously unbearable at times, because the scenes are so long and drawn out. The novel is complex, so I can't understand why Kubrick changed it and made it even more so. For me, personally, I wanted to stop and give up on this film, because the story line is dragged out ad nauseum, and quite honesty, I could not abide Ryan O'Neal's portrayal. It is pretty tough to watch a film where I feel the lead actor is THAT awful; but, when a film's look and feel is so beautiful, I can overlook some things. I am glad I watched it. It is memorable, but editing would have been the better piece of valor IMO. Thank Kubrick that he included an Intermission. I ate and .....well you know!...more info
- 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
- Revisiting The 18th Century Through A 20th Century Master
When Stanley Kubrick's film BARRY LYNDON was released at the end of 1975, many people were probably expecting either something along the lines of DR. ZHIVAGO, or a raucous period piece in the manner of TOM JONES. But giving people what they expect was never the stock-in-trade of this particular director, and instead he delivered a very clinical 18th century period study that, initially, was deemed a failure by critics. And this being the dawn of the "Blockbuster" age in Hollywood, it failed to do particularly well at the box office, either in England or in America (making most of its money in Europe).
But as with so many of Kubrick's films, BARRY LYNDON has, over the years, come to be seen as a striking piece, worthy of the four Oscars it won in 1975 (Set Decoration; Musical Adaptation; Cinematography; Costume Design). Ryan O'Neal stars as the title character, a charming but scheming kind of rake who goes up the ladder of 18th century society by fighting, lying, cheating, and being more or less a gold digger by the time he marries Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson). He finds out what the limits are to what he is doing when he is confronted with a stepson, Lord Bullingdon (Leon Vitali), who knows about his stepfather's cruelty.
Based on William Makepeace Thackeray's somewhat obscure 1847 novel, BARRY LYNDON, along with EYES WIDE SHUT, is probably the most misunderstood film in Kubrick's entire oeuvure. This is perhaps because this study of 18th century manners, complete with jaw-droppingly gorgeous nighttime candelight scenes shot by Kubrick's favorite cinematographer John Alcott, is fused with a deeply clinical, and even cynical, attitude about human nature. Such was the way with Kubrick, at least in the eyes of the critics, particularly after 1960, when he left America to live and work in England (much of BARRY LYNDON was filmed in Ireland in 1973 and '74). And as the cold and clinical way Kubrick made this film turned off one too many critics, so too did the extreme length of the film itself turn off audiences. Even in 1975, attention spans were starting to shorten ever so gradually; and a three hour-plus film like BARRY LYNDON was likely to try even the most patient filmgoers.
But as mentioned before, time has given us a new perspective on this arguably odd duck in the Kubrick canon. Though the casting of O'Neal in the title role was considered a misjudgment on Kubrick's part, in retrospect it now seems like the right one. Berenson is also tremendous as Lady Lyndon; and Kubrick regulars Leonard Rossiter and Philip Stone turn in very professional performances as well. The whole period atmosphere is shot through with a typical Kubrick touch in terms of the music--some of it is by the Chieftains, but most of it is by Baroque and Classical-era composers like Mozart, Vivaldi, Schubert, and Handel. In particular, the adaptation of the D Minor "Sarabande" of Handel is used to grand and sometimes sinister effect. For this, much of the credit must go to the late and often underrated Leonard Rosenman, who won one of this film's four Oscars for his adaptations.
Four stars may seem curiously low for a Kubrick film, but this is not to imply that BARRY LYNDON is a far lesser piece than 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY or THE SHINING. But it is a vastly different kind of film from this enigmatic and often controversial filmmaker; and like any of his films, it requires repeat viewings--a tall order here, admittedly, given its length. In the end, though, the rewards are considerable....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
- definitely top ten movie of all time
excellent just excellent. This is a long movie- 3:04. But really just goes by so fast. I've seen a few people say that this is in their opinion the greatest movie of all time, I think I'm starting to agree....more info
- BEAUTIFUL FILM!
This is one of the most well made films I have ever seen! Kubrick really is a genius filmaker. The cinematography is gorgeous, the acting is very good, and the story is well done. Highly recomended....more info
I got this as part of the Kubrick box set. I had never seen it before that.
It took a couple viewing to absorb it all, but it is a fine story and a great piece of cinematography....more info
A film as visually magnificent and painstakingly photographed as "Barry Lyndon" deserves a fine transfer from a pristine print, and this DVD is as as good a presentation as one could expect from the format. This edition is presented in the matted 1.66:1 theatrical format instead of the 1.37:1 aspect ratio in which Kubrick shot it and intended for televised broadcast and VHS editions. However, this edition is NOT anamorphically enhanced for 16x9 display. If that's what you want, you're better off waiting for it on a Blu-Ray edition. Leon Vitali has suggested in interviews that the 1080i version will not be anamorphic; let's hope that he's mistaken!
Forty-seven chapters of the film can be selected from eight lists of titles. English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles are available, and all of these are competently translated and rendered. It should be noted that the French dubbed dialogue track from the 1999 Kubrick Collection edition is not featured on this disc, or on the second edition of the Kubrick Collection.
A listing of the many awards that the film garnered is available, as though we need be reminded of Kubrick's and Alcott's superior efforts. The fatuous theatrical trailer is also on disc for those who want to watch one of the dullest trailers in film history: a slapshod pastiche of the film's most immediately recognizable scenes narrated by some bore who reads positive reviews of it that were hurriedly scribbled out by film critics. Ugh!...more info
- A feast for the eyes
Whatever you think of the story, the actors, the dubious casting of Ryan O'Neal, you should watch this movie simply to see the art of cinematography at its highest form. An absolute feast for the eyes....more info
- My all-time favortie is not on Blu-Ray
I am going to get Blu-Ray soon and I do not want to recreate my collection. but I want my favorites on Blu-Ray. Since this is supremely underrated Warner Bros. is not interested in releasing it. The available DVDs have crappy transfers and bad sound. I am waiting with baited breath for Warner to release this. It is a great film and since Warner Brothers is unaware of this they do not release it on Blu-Ray. Warner Bros. has disappointed me here. I am begging for them to release this!!! Please!...more info