Barry Lyndon

It’s not an old master (exactly). It is a screenshot from Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon.

Do you want to see a movie:

  • based on a 19th century novel no one has ever heard of
  • that stars Ryan O’Neal playing a vacuous bastard
  • and that is three hours long?

But it’s by the director of 2001: A Space Odyssey! (Whaat?)

I never would have seen this film if it weren’t  part of My Great Movie Journey – for all the reasons above. But, it was – mostly – fantastic. The story was good – although it sprawled across three hours like a 19th century novel. The acting was good – O’Neal hit the mark in every scene, although his character wasn’t that complicated, really. And, the three hours went by quickly in large part because every shot was a work of art. The costumes, make-up, and the backdrop were unremittingly gorgeous. Virtually every scene looked like a 19th century painting. The attention to detail was incredible – and the detail never failed to be fascinating.

The least enjoyable part of the movie was, in my opinion, Barry. Barry is a ne’er-do-well who sleazes his way through life doing whatever it takes to keep himself comfortable. But instead of being a daring, super-intelligent evil genius, or something like that, Barry is pretty much of an doltish scumbag. What an odd character for Kubrick to choose as a centerpiece of a movie that must have cost a fortune to produce. It’s not a huge surprise that it didn’t do well at the box office. Still, what a movie! I’m very glad I saw it.


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