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
The story follows the trials and travails of an Irishman named Redmond Barry (Ryan O'Neal). Born into poverty on a small farm, Barry first runs into trouble during his teens when he falls in love with his cousin. The family seeks to remove young Redmond from the picture because an English officer, a Captain Quinn, has taken a shine to the girl.Read more ›
Based on the 1844 William Makepeace Thackeray novel "The Luck of Barry Lyndon" (with some of the usual artistic liberties that Kubrick often took with his adaptations of books) this film follows the travails of Redmond Barry, an 18th century, hot-headed, charmingly unscrupulous Irish rapscallion who will stop at nothing to join the ranks of the British aristocracy.
Through a series of mishaps and misadventures, we follow Barry from his native Ireland through the Seven Years' War (1756-63), through the grand gambling palaces of Europe where he eventually woos and marries the beautiful and wealthy Lady Lyndon and adopts her name, much to the chagrin of her son Lord Bullingdon, who vows never to let Barry achieve his dream of joining the gentry.
Kubrick's ace-in-the-hole is his D.P. John Alcott who deservedly won an Oscar for Best Cinematography. Shot in Ireland, Germany and England, the viewer constantly gets the feeling of viewing a classic 18th century painting. It never gets dull watching the absolute beauty of this film, and I personally marvelled at all the hard work that must have gone into making it.
The music is also wonderful, as Kubrick once again shows excellent taste in which music fits a particular scene. The film's opening scenes have gorgeous Irish folk music from The Chieftains, and its later passages are eloquently followed by the works of J.S.Read more ›