Barry Lyndon

1975

directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Oscars:  Best Art Direction; Best Cinematography; Best Costume Design; Best Musical Score

One of these days I’ll watch all of Kubrick’s films.  This was my motivation to look through and find some that would interest me that I haven’t seen.  Barry Lyndon is Kubrick’s film in between A Clockwork Orange and The Shining.  So it’s got to be like, super twisted and all, right? … Nope.

Barry Lyndon is a coming of age/revenge/anti-hero flick set in one of the best decades, namely … the 1760’s.    Kubrick sets the tone right away, with some voiceover work, and a duel.  This dueling serves as a major motif of the film, and most of the plot junctures are centered around them.  Plotwise, though, what struck me as superiorly brilliant though, was Barry’s involvement with women, or rather what Kubrick was telling us about man’s involvement with women over the course of one’s life.  The movie starts out, as I said, with a duel, with Barry’s father getting killed.  So right off the bat, Barry’s dependence on his mother is apparent. He then extends this familial love to his cousin, whom is his first love.  Now the film points out it’s his first love, and you know right off the bat it’s not going to work out for him.  Sure enough, he is embarassed, tricked, and sent off.  Soon he’s swindled and penniless.  Ah, to be in the real world.  Barry then does what any teen of the age did, join the army.  He works his ass off, survives through his determination and cunning (and bravery) and after he’s discharged settles into a sweet gig as a gambler.  The single 20-something years.  The freedom and carefree times.  Then during the course of one these  brilliantly filmed gambling seshs (more on the look of the film in a bit) , he crosses eyes with this mega hot upper class babe.  My rented DVD skipped a bit here, but they end up hooking…up.  and She parades him around as sort of a boy-toy.  They get hitched and he treats her like garbage.  Yada yada yada, Act II , Tragic Downfall (Pride), Act III , the end.  It’s a 3 hour movie.

Now the look of this film.  Stunning, to put it simply.  Oscars for Visual and Auditory Stuff.  Strangely, It’s easy to put into words.    Decadent; indulgent; beautiful; every scene is a Baroque painting; Cold (in a strangely alluring way); the candlelight scenes were stunning… but I already said that.  Even a bit humorous at times, just laughing at the ridiculous customs , costumes, and situations of high society (and the brawl scene was good).

The acting was, eh, though.  A bit forced and again cold.  But the film was more visually stimulating and thematically challenging than I think the acting could manage.

Underrated Actors:  Marisa Berenson as the foxy 70’s Keira Knightley-esque (with the pale makeup) Lady Lyndon

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