20 April 2009 | ccthemovieman-1
Great Paintings Come To Life
Some movies - I wish there were more of them - simply look like a series of great paintings. This film has that look. You could freeze-frame many of the scenes and swear you were looking at a Gainsborough, a Vermeer, a Hogarth or similar work of art by one the great artists of three to five centuries ago. It's just beautiful.
For that, we have Director Stanley Kubrick and Photographer John Alcott to thank. Being a three-hour movie, there are plenty of wonderful shots to admire, too. In addition, the costumes are lavish and authentic and the scoring is notable. It's no accident that Oscars were garnered for art/set direction, cinematography, costume design and scoring. Yeah, if you enjoy classical music, you'll really enjoy the soundtrack, too, under the guidance of conductor Leonard Roseman.
Not to be overlooked is the fine acting and the interesting and underrated story. I say "underrated" because this film, from what I've read, bored a lot of people and and it was a box-office flop. That's too bad because, frankly, I found the story (outside of the first 10--15 minutes) to be fascinating. As I watched, I kept wondering what strange occurrences will happen next to the lead character, "Redmond Barry/Barry Lyndon," played beautifully by Ryan O'Neal. (For most of the movie, he's called "Redmond Barry," so I will refer to him as that.)
Overall, this was a low-key adventure story about the rise-and-fall of a "scoundrel" back in late 18th century Englishman. "Mr. Barry" is an Irishmen living in England who winds up dealing with a number of people: Irish, English, Prussian, French. His dealings with these people are bizarre at times. While he mainly is shown doing what he can to promote himself, for either monetary gain and prestige of a name and power, he's not all bad. There is a compassionate side to him, but it only shows itself in small doses. It makes him all the more interesting to watch, because you don't always know how he's going to react to his circumstances, which change radically every few years.
We witness his rise to prominence and then his fall when his "sins begin to find him out," as the Bible would describe. It's quite a roller coaster ride.
This is an emotional, involving story, and a feast for the eyes and ears. It's quite different, too, certainly not the average fare from Kubrick. I can only hope this comes out on a high-definition disc some day. Admirers of this film need to see this in all its glory.