Barry Lyndon (1975)

31.

★★★★

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Written by: Stanley Kubrick, William Makepeace Thackeray (novel)
Starring: Ryan O’Neal, Marisa Berenson and Patrick Magee

While Stanley Kubrick will always ring bells with 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining and A Clockwork Orange, his adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel, Barry Lyndon has the same visual bite and surprise that we can expect from any Kubrick work. Following the story of a young man’s journey as an outlaw, a soldier, con artist and wealthy artistocrat, Barry Lyndontakes full advantage of economic storytelling in order to present an entertaining film saturated with drama and intriguing quips.

Not just any old period piece.

Despite looking like a period piece simply retelling a classic, Kubrick cleverly weaves his own representation of the novel in order to present something new and exciting into the story. With an acute awareness of the film medium’s strengths, Kubrick not only endows a painterly quality to certain shots of painstaking and powerful stillness, but also fuels the performances of the film’s actors with an eye for drama, inner conflict and an absurdly awkward distancing from the audience that endlessly fascinates and puzzles.

While there aren’t as many violent or sexually confronting scenes as you might expect (or want) out of a Kubrick film, Barry Lyndon is just as powerful and visually involving as the special editions of Kubrick sitting in your DVD collection. Sharp, comical and even thought-provoking, Barry Lyndon is an overlooked gem.

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