Barry Lyndon (1975)

Barry Lyndon Movie Review

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Barry Lyndon Movie Review

Barry Lyndon is a 1975 historical film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Ryan O’Neal. It is such an overrated, immensely disappointing period piece.

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It was in the reign of George III

that the aforesaid personages lived and quarreled;

good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor –

they are all equal now

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Barry Lyndon Movie Review

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I am a huge fan of Stanley Kubrick and I just love most of his films. However, this is not one of those. It’s in fact one of his weakest films unfortunately as it is just not that good. I expected great things from it and only in the technical aspects I witnessed greatness. In terms of substance, the film stumbled badly.

It is set in 18th century Ireland and it follows a man who is an opportunist looking to climb the social ladder. And just in that premise you see a major problem the film never overcame – its protagonist. The man is simply a bad human being, horrible at times. Ryan O’Neal’s performance is also problematic as he has never been a particularly good actor.

The film asks from its audience to root and care for the guy and how could I when he is just so insufferable. I do not understand why Kubrick chose that approach but it obviously doesn’t work. The rest of the characters are also very unappealing for the most part, but at least the acting apart from Ryan is pretty good.

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Barry Lyndon Movie Review

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The story here is very sappy and very mediocre. You witness his rise and downfall and his constant tragedies as they befall him pretty frequently. But I do not like him so I did not care for him. And I do not get the point in all these tragedies. The character did not learn anything and nobody learns anything really. The story is almost non-existent as it’s just a series of tragic events with no themes, purpose or message to it whatsoever.

Barry Lyndon is one of the most beautiful period films ever made. There is no denying that. Even I who really did not like this film have to admit that it looks and sounds absolutely stunning. The attention to detail here is meticulous and Kubrick’s direction is reliably strong.

The cinematography is simply splendid as the camera moves in a very smooth and interesting manner capturing the scenery so well with many wonderful shots that are worthy of wallpapers or even paintings. Its painting-like aesthetic really helped the film achieve its artistic and historically truthful goals.

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Barry Lyndon Movie Review

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The score is also beautiful and frequently even fantastic. The tone of the film is bad, but the dialogue is solid as is the acting. Of course the costumes are simply exquisite and truthful to its historical period. The way the characters talked, walked and interacted with each other is very realistic and the film definitely has a very transporting quality to it as I felt that I went to the eighteenth century. The sets are simply gorgeous too and the natural landscapes are lovely. The technicalities are the film’s biggest quality and it’s such a shame that the rest of it never even came close. All of this budget and talent was wasted on a terrible script.

Barry Lyndon is one of the most beautiful period pictures ever filmed. The cinematography is splendid, the sets are phenomenal, the costumes are exquisite and the score is magnificent. The film transports you to the 18th century very successfully and its painting-like aesthetic is gorgeous. However, it is a shame that all of this money and attention to detail was wasted on such a mediocre story which basically consists of a series of tragic events with no message or purpose to them whatsoever. The protagonist is insufferable so I did not feel any sympathy for him at all. Technically, the film is great, but in terms of substance, it is pretty subpar leading to one of Kubrick’s rare misfires.

My Rating – 3

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Posted in 1970s, 1975, FILM DECADES, Historical, MOVIE REVIEWS and tagged , , , , , , , .

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