“Barry Lyndon” is the most underrated movie from Stanley Kubrick. The beginning of the premiere of “The Shining” gets a lot of negative criticism until it becomes a cult-classic masterpiece. However, of the many, people rarely refer to this film when talking about Kubrick. They always say “The Shining” and “2001: A Space Odyssey”. “Barry Lyndon” seems to be forgettable considering there are so many great filmmakers who make this as their favorite movie included Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese.
As usual, Stanley Kubrick adapted an 1844 novel entitled “The Luck of Barry Lyndon” written by William Makepeace Thackeray. Three hours are a challenge for you especially if you don’t like the genre too. This movie has a slow-burning pace with a smooth tone. This also always keeps me from following the plot. In addition to the slow pace, each scene is always in silence and the characters did a slow movement. However, this movie doesn’t change its possible that the storyline often keeps you on the seat. You might fall asleep as well. After all, this film also reminds me a little about “Assassin’s Creed III”.
If you look closely on the screen, Stanley Kubrick merges an attractive property with such fascinating cinematography. It’s like a moving painting in the style of costume, atmosphere, and dialogue in the 18th century. Like watching history again. Every frame was a painting. You can pause this movie in any frame and you managed to capture its beauty and art. While the genre is history, the story seems a bit random. The movie tells the story of Ryan O’Neal as Barry Lyndon from a farming boy, becomes a soldier, becomes a spy, and finally becomes a part of the royal family. This is the rise and fall of Barry Lyndon, in any aspect, you don’t know what would happen next. The story seems a random but unpredictable a bit, makes you keep your attention to see these unexpected astonishments.
Kubrick always inserts an important message we’ve to understand after several decades. Whether it’s philosophy, the meaning of war according to him, or the meaning of life for the director, is everything to him. “Barry Lyndon” is a concept of someone remains without any direction. Barry started his journey without any meaning or straight path for himself. After he became a noble, he never realized his struggle was a trap in his life. Barry has lost everything, lost his main character, his friends, his family, everything. Yet, Barry never satisfied with everything he has achieved. These narratives, most of the plot, providing it using first and third points of view.
My minor problem for this movie is a missing character. Nora Brady and John Quin is a plot device to Barry Lyndon himself. That finally made Barry Lyndon move even further to leave his hometown. Apart from these characters, there are also several other characters that are a bit pointless as well as these two characters. The score feels thick, like watching the nuances of the style of the 18th century. The cinematography often shows close-up to zoom out, has its own meaning. The use of lighting and the atmosphere in this movie is so rich and detailed.
Ryan O’Neal is so phenomenal. He can make a sympathy towards us subjectively. It feels so familiar and relatable with our own reality. Marisa Berenson as Lady Honoria Lyndon is not as great as O’Neal but she has a stunning facial expression with rich dialogue. Leon Vitali as Lord Bullingdon, so amazing. He represents a plot of revenge, the envy of life he feels snatched away. The final duel shootout between Barry and Bullingdon is such the best. The blocking, the intense, and we never know who shot first.
Stanley Kubrick expresses his movie through art, an art that’s still alive until today. However, “Barry Lyndon” is a fascinating piece, a masterfully crafted movie by the great directorial vision of Kubrick. This film is not only an appreciation of entertainment but also an example of how to express artwork through films. He illustrates it with passion, very perfect.
5 out of 5 stars.