Barry Lyndon

November 11, 2011
By ZachBrehany SILVER, Warner Robins, Georgia
ZachBrehany SILVER, Warner Robins, Georgia
8 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"I am going to make my life meaningful, and I do not care what you say" - Anne Rice

Hot off the accomplishments to the world of cinema he earned with 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick was at the height of his power, fame, and glory. He became well respected, feared, and looked up to. So, when the news that he was to make another film came into the headlights of film circles, you can just imagine everyone's reaction to what this genius was going to come up with next. Well, the next film he was going to make stunned people in 1975. Not because it was as groundbreaking as 2001 or as controversial as Clockwork, but because it was completely different in terms of content, genre, and the little details that make up with film.

When audiences saw this film, many felt bored, like they were wasting their time, and isolated due to them not expecting this. Barry Lyndon was not well received when it was released, many little money, and above all else, only had the accomplishments of winning four Academy Awards and being nominated for three others. But, like with every film Kubrick had made, sooner or later people revisited Barry Lyndon and finally understood why Kubrick made this film and how important this film is to cinema. In short, people realized that this is a masterpiece. Now, this has been one of the most difficult of Kubrick films for me to find due to so many people overlook this film. I mean, watching it, I can see how the general audience would overlook this film after he made Clockwork and skip to his next film The Shining. But, watching this film, I must say that this film is beyond underrated. This is a great film. There is no question about that. From the camera techniques that Kubrick created (cameras that can film with the only lighting being candles) to the lavish sets and costumes, to even him making Ryan O'Neal a great actor is completely mind numbing. But at the same time refreshing to sit through if you can handle a three hour epic.

Stanley Kubrick, as any of you who have read my reviews will know, is my second favorite director of all time, and this has to be the one film I would recommend anyone new to Kubrick to see if they wanted to understand why I praise and adore this film maker so much. I think the one scene that certifies this film as being great would have to be the story telling and how Kubrick isolates his audience. When watching the film, you have a narrator that is filling in some details, but this time, the narrator tells you everything that will happen. Kubrick does not leave any surprises for anyone in this film. Before this film reaches it's climax, you already know the outcome of the characters, you already know how this film will play out, and you know that there will be no true happy ending for anyone.

So, now you are asking yourself: if he gives away all of the details to the story, why is it that this film should even be considered viewing material? Well, two reasons. The first is the sets and costumes. The second is the way this film is told.

During the Academy Awards, this film won for best sets and best costumes. This film is a costume epic and my God, Kubrick makes that phrase eat itself. I mean, the outfits are fantastic. I personally can not believe that he blew a good chunk of money to make these lavish outfits and props that really create a feel for how the 1800's would have been like. I am not one to usually praise the costumes, but this film⦠you just can't deny it. Now, the sets are something else all together. Kubrick was known for being a person who was obsessed with still photography and would pay beyond close attention to detail (to even such an extent as freaking out if a film being shown was not up to his standards in terms of detail), and with this film, if you are a person who loves detail, then Kubrick is your best friend. It is known that Kubrick did work for the magazine Look! when he was younger, and with this film, he perfects his keen eye. Might as well also add the precise movements of the camera, how he manages to make each shot look like it took a complex mathematical equation to figure out. Everything from making the actors step in time with the background score to how the camera has to go from one place to the other, it is magnificent.

Now for how the story is told. As I have mentioned, the narration for this film is very unique in that it isolates and alienates the audience by telling us every plot twits before it happens. Now, one has to ask why Kubrick really does this. The answer is that it helps with fleshing out the character of Barry Lyndon/ Raymond Barry (portrayed by Ryan O'Neal). By use knowing everything ahead of time, we start to truly understand this poor, out of luck Irish man's motives as he tries to climb his way up in society after he won a duel that result in killing his cousin's new husband. Might as well also add that this naration helps with the acting of Ryan O'Neal. Now, he is decent enough with a few moments of cinema gold thrown in. But, without some explanation due to him having a blank face half of the time, it is hard to take him serious as an actor. But, with everything in one, O'Neal does give one hell of a preformance.

A film critic that I have great admiration for said, and I quote: Barry Lyndon isn't a great success, and it's not a great entertainment, but it's a great example of directorial vision: Kubrick saying he's going to make this material function as an illustration of the way he sees the world. Well, I actually disagree with the first part while admitting that the rest is true. In my eyes, Barry Lyndon is great entertainment and a great success in terms of story telling. A wonderful film.

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