In the eighteenth century, in a small village in Ireland, Redmond Barry (Ryan O'Neal) is a young farm boy in love with his cousin Nora Brady (Gay Hamilton). When Nora gets engaged to British Captain John Quin (Leonard Rossiter), Barry challenges him to a duel of pistols. He wins and escapes to Dublin, but is robbed on the road. Without an alternative, Barry joins the British Army to fight in the Seven Years War. He deserts and is forced to join the Prussian Army, where he saves the life of his Captain and becomes his protégé and spy of Irish gambler Chevalier de Balibari (Patrick Magee). He helps Chevalier and becomes his associate until he decides to marry the wealthy Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson). They move to England and Barry, in his obsession of nobility, dissipates her fortune and makes a dangerous and revengeful enemy.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When Barry first meets the Chevalier di Balibari, there's a small side table with a coffee pot to the right, but when the Chevalier is viewed from the front, the table is gone. See more »
[two figures visible on the horizon prepare to duel. Three witnesses stand between them]
Gentlemen, cock your pistols! Gentlemen...
...aim your pistols!
...had been bred, like many other young sons of a genteel family, to the profession of the law.
And there is no doubt he would've...
...made an eminent figure in his profession...
[...] See more »
When I was in high school, it was considered "cool" to watch Stanley Kubrick movies as they were seen as "more enlightened forms of entertainment" over stuff by Steven Spielberg and John Hughes. If you didn't memorize the opening speech to Full Metal Jacket or hadn't seen Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut then you were rejected from the clique. This was at the time when I was first viewing Kurosawa's Rashomon and Ran and accidentally came across this gem. Sure, the rest of the gang would be quoting along with Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange, but not one of them would dare sit down and watch this or 2001: A Space Odyssey. Fools.
Barry Lyndon is another sign of sheer genius on behalf of Kubrick. Notice that in his career he is never concerned about making money, just creating an image and telling a story. Imagine if Michael Bay did the same, he'd be out of the business in no time and having to sell his own movies at the Video Hut. This movie is one of his better detailed (and yet mysteriously unsung) masterpieces that is so beautiful to look at that it almost becomes artistic pornography (in the sense of creating intense emotion). This isn't to say that Barry Lyndon is vulgar. By comparison to Eyes Wide Shut and The Shining, this is a kid's cartoon.
Kubrick is once again a certified genius with his camera. The elaborate and glamorous scenes ranging from duels to gardens and even just the opening prologue are beautifully rendered in a style reminiscent of Monet or other artists. I found it interesting how Kubrick includes pigeons (doves?) in the final duel. Perhaps John Woo gained some inspiration from this.
The story is paper thin compared to 2001 and lacks much of the symbolism. In fact, it is very hard to either sympathize with Ryan O'Neil as the title character because of his lack of portrayal. As a whole, none of the characters gain either support or disapproval because of their fleeting presence. The sets and costume designs themselves become more of a character than the actors. Thankfully, the story is not as convoluted as I expected. It flows nicely and never gets boring because of the variety of powerful elements infused into it.
First off, kudos to both Ken Adam and Vernon Dixon for their brilliant production design. I loved what Ken did with Dr. Strangelove (smart move for him to ditch the Bond series for that). John Alcott is one of Kubrick's lesser cinematographers, but he is still very talented here. I'm certain that, if he had lived longer, Kubrick would've kept using him. He is not as concerned about symmetry, that or the topics aren't, as the rest of Kubrick's work. The biggest irony about Barry Lyndon would have to be that everyone in the categories EXCEPT Kubrick won an Oscar for their work. I think the Academy has something of a grudge against him because of his superior quality of work.
Overall, a phenomenal quality of film that they just don't make anymore. I put this in my Top 10 required viewings for anyone who wants to be in film. Kubrick has transcended Shakespeare with this film. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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