Barry Lyndon

Alright, I realized I had never seen Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (save for a few scenes during a really hellishly hot night in Asia when I couldn’t sleep and had the TV on).

So I rented the DVD from Scarecrow and am watching it now.

It’s just a gloriously shot movie, especially for something from the mid-70’s. Almost modern quality with today’s standards. And it’s got Kubrick’s hallmarks… absolute precision and detail and control.

But Barry has got to be one of the most loathsome protagonists I’ve ever seen. I know this was a Kubrickian decision, but I can also see why Ryan O’Neal’s career kinda flamed out after this. You just wanna slug the bastard at times.

Oh yeah, I wish all 18th century German peasant women looked like that. Yowsa!

I had to go see this back when it was out as part of an English lit class assignment. I think I grew a beard while watching it. Doesn’t it last about three days?

Why? Finally finish that time machine? ;-)

I tried to watch it once as it came with my Stanley Kubrick collection box but threw in the towel after about 30 minutes. Is anything ever happening in that film? I mean, anything interesting at all?

Don’t watch it for the action, watch it for the prettiness. Did you get to the scene with the Prussian officer in the inn? Apparently, it’s shot entirely in candlelight and other natural light. Indeed, the movie makes extensive use of natural light. Also, the costumes are incredible.

Of course, I love movies about this period, so I’d probably like it even if it didn’t look so absolutely stunning.

I think most of the film, if not all, was shot using only ambient lighting. Kubrick even snagged a special Zeiss lens used by NASA for the scenes shot by candlelight.

It was also shot entirely on location, at historical locations. No sets were used. It’s definitely a movie where you have to admire the craftsmanship to enjoy it. It’s pretty hollow and distateful as a story. I think Kubrick was operating off a rough outline of the story while he shot, there wasn’t a complete script.

Stuff like this sums up why I feel Kubrick is overrated. Sure there are individual aspects of brilliance in his films, but the rest can be such crap.

It’s about the rise to prominence and fall to nothing of Lyndon Barry.

There’s no action at all, but I really love the movie. Aside from the prettiness, that other folks have already mentioned, I thought the story was pretty good, and I also thought the movie was funny (it’s a very subtle, under-played humor, but it’s there. Take the first scene of the movie–if you don’t find that, combined with the narration funny, I would say that you’re just not going to like the rest of the film).

Sure, it’s slow as hell, but I was never bored. And I’m not a huge Kubrick fanboy–I think “2001” is dull, I never want to see “Full Metal Jacket” again, and I think he completely screwed up the climax of “The Shining” (although I think the rest of the movie was great).

Gav

It’s a much maligned Kubrick flick, but I actually like it quite a bit – I do think the story is interesting, although I preferred the parts where Lyndon was kicking butt (as opposed to hitting butt, later in the movie). I love some Kubrick films (Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, Clockwork Orange, Lolita), and dislike others quite a bit (2001, and the Shining on first viewing), but Barry Lyndon is one of his rare films that I’m just kinda indifferent towards, although I was relatively entertained the only time I’ve seen it.

I pretty much agree with Gav and Desslock about Barry Lyndon, although I do have to say that the length and slow pace got to me by the end of the movie. I was REALLY ready for it to be over.

As for 2001, I can really appreciate that today’s audiences find it dull. Being the old man that I am, I was fortunate enough to have seen it back in the late 60s during its inital Cinerama release. At that time, it was an overpowering visual and aural experience. From today’s perspective, it’s hard to appreciate just how far forward 2001 pushed the state of the art of visual effects. If you compare 2001 with Forbidden Planet or War of the Worlds, you’ll get the idea. That factor and the big, curved Cinerama screen made a huge difference at the time. When I saw the film again on a 35mm screen, it had lost a lot. On TV it was a complete waste of time. Also, Dolby stereo in theaters was still something of a novelty in the 60s. So that combined with the huge screen and the gee-whiz special effects made quite an impact.

Today, of course, the special effects are as dated as Destination Moon’s were in the late 60s, and even if you could see it in Cinerama (which I guess you still can at one theater in LA), they’d still look humdrum. That just brings the fact that the film really doesn’t have a story to tell to the forefront and that equals dull.

Barry Lyndon was one of the first movies I purchased on Laser Disc back in the 80s. I still love it though I haven’t picked up a DVD of it. Then, I love period pieces and costume dramas so there you have it…

I’d pretty much second (or is it up to third now?) Desslock’s take on the rest of Kubrick’s oeuvre; it’s a mixed bag, though the Shining did finally grow on me (I’m not a King fan really, either).

I’d say that I’m pretty enthralled with all of Kubrick’s work, with the possible exception of Lyndon, which is like a big, beautifully designed house on the outside but every chair you try to sit in is uncomfortably painful.

King himself despises the movie version of “The Shining”, hence his fairly famous quote describing it as “a beautiful, shiny Cadillac with no engine”. My opinion is that if you compare the movie version to his own painfully bad mini-series based on the book, the movie version wins hands down. Simply translating the events of a book onto screen almost never works…it needs the filtrage though the eyes of a visionary like Kubrick to make a really interesting cinematic experience.

Same here, I like pretty much all of Kubrick’s work, with the exception of Barry Lyndon. I don’t understand what’s supposed to be bad about The Shining, it’s a well-constructed horror film with a splendid performance by Jack Nicholson. Nor do I think that 2001 is completely outdated – yes, the final “psychedelic” sequence looks silly today but the opening scene with the apes and the cosmonaut’s fight against HAL are rightly regarded as classics.

Regardless, Kubrick’s fantastic photography overcomes any weak points in most of his movies. He’s second only to Kurosawa in that regard (and perhaps Citizen Kane).

While I agree that Kubrick’s photography is second to none, I feel that he still needs to be regarded as a filmmaker, which incorporates a lot of different things obviously. Personally, I love his early stuff for the most part. Strangelove, 2001, and A Clockwork Orange are all fantastic. Shining was good, Full Metal Jacket was weak, and I still don’t know how I feel about Eyes Wide Shut.

I wish he had been around longer to do at least one more film just to make sure that Full Metal Jacket was a fluke.

I’ve been kind of waiting for a post where I agreed with Chris Nahr and here it is. (I’d almost given up hope when he called Alien Resurrection a “parody”.) I think the people who hate the film, love the book. It’s a good book and Kubrick changed an awful lot but I actually consider the movie a better crafted story. Plus, hey… Scatman Crothers baby. The scene where they show his apartment and its decor is just awesome.

Better than both, though, is probably the Simpson’s take on it.
“Shinning!”
“Don’t you mean Shining?”
“Quiet! Do you want to be sued?”

I think the movie is one of Kubrick’s better ones (my own take is that, as a director, Kubrick was increasingly a cinematographer), but thought that, while Nicholson started out well in “The Shining,” his performance here marked the end of his great run of early '70s movies and started his descent into self-parody.

It took him a long time to recover.

Peter

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I’ve come around on the Shining – it just has nothing to do with the original book, and has goofy things like the kid talking to his finger, so when I first saw it I didn’t understand why Kubrick went off on such a weird tangent. After seeing King’s mini-series, I knew why.

Nor do I think that 2001 is completely outdated – yes, the final “psychedelic” sequence looks silly today but the opening scene with the apes and the cosmonaut’s fight against HAL are rightly regarded as classics.

I find 2001 almost unwatchable because there isn’t a conventional, or even comprehensible, narrative. It just seems like a product of its times, more than an enduring movie experience.

I like almost all of “The Shining,” but I think Kubrick really blew it near the end.

You’ve got this great sequence of Niocholson chasing Danny in the labyrinth, building tension, building it up higher and higher… and then he interrupts it with Shelly Long seeing all that stuff in the hotel, and then back again to Danny where he has to re-establish the tension that he built so well 5 minutes ago.

He should’ve moved the Shelly Long sequence to before the labyrinth sequence, or, even better, left it out altogether–by that point in the movie, who cares about what she sees?

Gav

Exactly right. Did the mini-series have the lead character chewing aspirin? I remember that from the book and it still makes me cringe.

Shelly (“Sorry I took so long to finish” “Transplendant!” - Annie Hall) Duvall actually. She was also a near perfect Olive Oyl in that weird Robert Altman film and is not related to Robert Duvall.