: : : Barry Lyndon

Story

In 1975 the world was at Stanley Kubrick's feet. His films Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and A Clockwork Orange, released in the previous dozen years, had provoked rapture and consternation--not merely in the film community, but in the culture at large. On the basis of that smashing hat trick, Kubrick was almost certainly the most famous film director of his generation, and absolutely the one most likely to rewire the collective mind of the movie audience. And what did this radical, at-least-20-years-ahead-of-his-time filmmaker give the world in 1975? A stately, three-hour costume drama based on an obscure Thackeray novel from 1844. A picaresque story about an Irish lad (Ryan O'Neal, then a major star) who climbs his way into high society, Barry Lyndon bewildered some critics (Pauline Kael called it "an ice-pack of a movie") and did only middling business with patient audiences. The film was clearly a technical advance, with its unique camerawork (incorporating the use of prototype Zeiss lenses capable of filming by actual candlelight) and sumptuous production design. But its hero is a distinctly underwhelming, even unsympathetic fellow, and Kubrick does not try to engage the audience's emotions in anything like the usual way.

Why, then, is Barry Lyndon a masterpiece? Because it uncannily captures the shape and rhythm of a human life in a way few other films have; because Kubrick's command of design and landscape is never decorative but always apiece with his hero's journey; and because every last detail counts. Even the film's chilly style is thawed by the warm narration of the great English actor Michael Hordern and the Irish songs of the Chieftains. Poor Barry's life doesn't matter much in the end, yet the care Kubrick brings to the telling of it is perhaps the director's most compassionate gesture toward that most peculiar species of animal called man. And the final, wry title card provides the perfect Kubrickian sendoff--a sentiment that is even more poignant since Kubrick's premature death. --Robert Horton

Cast

Ryan O'NealBarry Lyndon
Marisa BerensonLady Honoria Lyndon
Patrick MageeChevalier de Balibari
Hardy KrugerCaptain Potzdorf (as Hardy Kruger)
Steven BerkoffLord Ludd
Gay HamiltonNora Brady
Marie KeanBarry's Mother
Diana KörnerLischen (as Diana Koerner)
Murray MelvinReverend Samuel Runt
Frank MiddlemassSir Charles Lyndon
André MorellLord Gustavus Adolphus Wendover (as Andre Morell)
Arthur O'SullivanCaptain Feeny, the Highwayman
Godfrey QuigleyCaptain Grogan
Leonard RossiterCaptain John Quin
Philip StoneGraham
Leon VitaliLord Bullingdon
John BindonRecruiting soldier
Roger BoothKing George III
Billy BoyleSeamus Feeny
Jonathan CecilLt. Jonathan Fakenham
Peter CellierSir Richard
Geoffrey ChaterDr. Broughton
Anthony DawesBritish Soldier
Barry JacksonBritish Soldier
Wolf KahlerPrince of Tübingen
Ferdy MayneColonel Bulow
David MorleyBryan Patrick Lyndon
Pat RoachToole - Soldier in Fistfight
Dominic SavageYoung Bullingdon
George SewellBarry's Second
Anthony SharpLord Hallam
John SharpDoolan
Roy SpencerHorse Seller
Harry TowbInnkeeper
Michael HordernNarrator (voice)
Norman GayTailor (uncredited)
Vivian KubrickMagic Show Spectator (uncredited)
Gary TaylorBarry's Fight Second (uncredited)

  • Genre: Drama Movies
  • Director: Stanley Kubrick
  • Producer: Warner Brothers
  • Length: 184 min
  • Aspect ratio: 1.66:1
  • Theatrical Release
    North AmericaDec 18, 1975
    EuropeDec 18, 1975
    JapanJul 3, 1976
  • Ratings
    North AmericaPG
    EuropePG
    AustraliaPG
  • Blu-ray Release
    North AmericaAug 23, 2011
  • DVD Release
    North AmericaJun 3, 2003
    EuropeSep 10, 2001
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