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
The flags shown in the scenes of Barry's service in the Prussian army are from three different regiments. The flag with a white background and grey/silver-grey vertical stripes is that of the Royal Guard regiment, the yellow with white corner darts is that of Fusilier Regiment #39 and the dark flag looks like it could be the flag of Infantry Regiments #2, 8, 13, 28 or 54, all of which had black flags with varying colored details. The regiment's uniform distinctions of white lapels, cuffs and collar make it look like Regiment #13, which was known as a hard-fighting, hard-drinking unit. 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 »
BRITISH GRENADIERS (fife and drum)
Traditional See more »
Lavish, engrossing, picaresque
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon.)
Stanley Kubrick's beautifully opulent production takes many liberties with William Makepeace Thackeray's picaresque romance, The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq (1843), narrated in the first person depicting events from the eighteenth century. In particular, Redmond Barry who becomes Barry Lyndon, is something of an admirable rake, whereas in Thackeray's novel he is a braggart, a bully and a scoundrel. No matter. Kubrick, in keeping with a long-standing filmland tradition, certainly has license, and Thackeray won't mind.
Ryan O'Neal is the unlikely star, and he does a good job, rising from humble Irish origins to the decadence of titled wealth, employing a two-fisted competence in the manly arts, including some soldiering, some thievery at cards and a presumed consummate skill in the bedroom. Marisa Berenson plays Lady Lyndon, whom Barry has managed to seduce; and when her elderly husband dies, she marries Barry thus elevating his social and economic station in life. But Barry is rather clumsy at playing at peerage, and bit by bit manages to squander most of the Lyndon fortune until his stepson, Lord Bullingdon (Leon Vitali) grows old enough to do something about it.
This really is a gorgeous movie thanks to the exquisite sets and costumes and especially to John Alcott's dreamy cinematography and a fine score by Leonard Rosenman. The 184 minutes go by almost without notice as we are engrossed in the rise and fall of Barry's fortunes. There is fine acting support from Patrick Magee as the Chevalier de Balibari and Leonard Rossiter as Captain Quinn, and a number of lesser players, who through Kubrick's direction bring to life Europe around the time of the Seven Years War (1754-1763) when decadence and aristocratic privilege were still in full flower.
The script features two dueling scenes, the first showing the combatants firing at one another simultaneously at the drop of a white kerchief, the second has Barry and his stepson face each other ten paces apart, but due to the flip of a coin, the stepson fires first. Both scenes are engrossing as we see the loading of the pistols with powder, ball and ramrod, and we are able to note how heavy the pistols are and how difficult it must be to hit a silhouette at even a short distance. It is this kind of careful attention to directional detail that absorbs us in the action and makes veracious the story. Notice too the way the British soldiers march directly en mass toward the French guns. They actually used to fight battles that way! Also note the incredible pile of hair atop Lady Lyndon's head. Surely this is some kind of cinematic record.
Bottom line: one of Kubrick's best, certainly his most beautiful film.
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