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08 January 2012

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Genre: Drama
Country: United Kingdom
At the height of fashion in the mid 70’s, the film captures the 18th century in a gloriously shot manner, with almost every shot being like a painting on a canvas. Stanley Kubrick, who directed, produced and wrote the screenplay of the book, has once more made a distinctive film with storytelling and visual beauty looking at British aristocracy in the 18th century. This time Kubrick has creates a historical epic and in the 3-hour runtime it has, the life of Lyndon is curiously interesting. Three hours is a reasonably long time to watch a film, but sometimes it works, creating a film with a distinguished atmosphere. Just look at the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

No doubt, Kubrick has touched this film with great skill. With almost every shot having the beauty of a still frame, and directing the film engagingly, it makes Barry Lyndon even more exciting. The film is split into two parts, and it was smart to do so with the film’s 3-hour runtime. Part 1 involves seeing how Barry got the name ‘Barry Lyndon’, and part 2 follows his reign of fortune. From Lyndon’s journey from Ireland to his wealth in England, his life has the upmost curiosity.
It appears that old Kubrick has taken special care with this film ensuring every shot has atmosphere. Whether we are following Lyndon as he walks through the forest with his cousin, or if we are seeing the Lyndon mansion and its grounds, the film is definitely filled with florescent and beautiful cinematography. With fashionable classy clothes of ye olden days and authentic looking set pieces, you definitely get warped into the time of the 18h century. It has never been captured with such visual grace, which proves Kubrick is a great visionary storyteller. The visuals of this film push the technology of its time (as Kubrick done also with 2001), and it has some of the finest cinematography of any 70’s film.
The characters could have been more distinguished, but Ryan O Neil did a superb job. There really is no characters who play a huge part in the film. Instead, Lyndon meets many characters throughout the film and only five or so have a recurrence. Nevertheless, they all played their parts fine slapping authenticity on to the films time-period.  Lyndon’s character is quite various in emotions. He is devilish, selfish, emotionless and a thief. In addition, he is an opportunist.

Barry Lyndon is one of Kubrick’s underrated films, which is agreeable to some extent. The acting was interesting, the set pieces were beautiful, and the story that follows a man’s rise to wealth and crumble was plenty to love. However, with this in mind the film does not explore much. It is a film that simply follows one characters rise and fall and can be quite boring at times. I think its lack of character that brings the film down a little. We have plenty of characters, but no truly engaging ones, except for Lyndon.  
Many critics and filmgoers do not like this film as much as his other films, which is understandable. This is the fifth Kubrick film I have seen and it is his weakest, but with that in mind it is still a historical epic. The characterisation is not the strongest, and Lyndon’s journey may seem slow, but its look on aristocracy makes it a reasonably powerful film. Overall, with artistic tour de force, Barry Lyndon still excels in the medium with its picturesque cinematography and 18th century charm.

My Rating: 8/10

Extra Information:
Produced by: Stanley Kubrick
Written to the screen by: Stanley Kubrick
Runtime: 186 Minutes
Distributed by: 
Age Certificate: PG 

4 comments:

  1. Agreed! I took away more points for the same reasons though. Lol.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've seen all eleven films Kubrick directed from The Killing (1956) up. I agree that Barry Lyndon is not one I would put any higher than middle of the pack, and would perhaps put it more towards the bottom. (I hated one of his beloved films, though, so Lyndon would not be at the very bottom.) I see from your Kubrick Tag that you've reviewed Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, and Barry Lyndon. I would highly recommend Paths of Glory and Spartacus. The former is an anti-war film based on true events from World War I. Gladiator (2000) was a remake of just one portion of the latter.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Judging by your pictures, I should definitely see this movie. In fact, I need to see Kubrick's entire body of work. Brilliant review!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great review, Tom. I would not mind checking out this one, I've been loving Stanley Kubricks films and am eager to see more of his work.

    ReplyDelete

 

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