Making stuff as a founder of Avocado. Former music-maker. Tuna melt advocate. Started Google Reader. (But smarter people made it great.)

The Underseen Barry Lyndon

So you've seen Barry Lyndon, the Stanley Kubrick film? Really? Oh, c'mon, really? Seriously? I'll bet most people haven't.

Barry Lyndon isn't 2001 or The Shining or Dr. Strangelove which is pretty remarkable since it's a faithful and stunning re-creation of a Thackeray novel. This means a viewer will be seeing a lot of periwigged, fluffy-shirted nobles conniving in the reign of King George III so non-tea lovers might want to avoid it. There are other viewing hurdles as well. I mean, sure, it's 3 hours long and could've used Christopher Doyle as a DP but it's always been for me a remarkable and engrossing film. Things to love?
  • Given his perfect-for-Disney-filmstrips voice, Michael Hordern is the BEST NARRATOR EVER.
  • The robbery scene is always funny, always. ("I'm afraid we must get on to the more regrettable stage of our brief acquaintance".)
  • The final duel in the dovecote.
  • Cinephile much? Then you have to see any of the card games with the fops.
Kubrick's was relentlessly detail-oriented in his movies and Barry Lyndon was no different as is evident from a post-release interview with Michael Ciment. I love this excerpt.
SMUGLY, THE INTERVIEWER: The danger in an historical film is that you lose yourself in details and become decorative.

KUBRICK, WHO SOUNDS A LOT LIKE AN ENGINEER: The danger connected with any multi-faceted problem is that you might pay too much attention to some of the problems to the detriment of others, but I am very conscious of this and I make sure I don't do that.
Like others (reportedly) I think Ryan O'Neal was a bit miscast but I'm a poor judge, I think, since my introduction to his work as an artist was The Main Event, a boxing movie with Barbra Streisand whose tagline reads "a glove story." (Seriously.) I'd still watch Lyndon again, though, if I had 3 hours of contiguous non-work, non-music time. Maybe in 2008.

Pound for pound and silhouette for silhouette, Barry Lyndon has what might be my favorite movie poster ever.

Poster of the movie, Barry Lyndon
posted at March 15, 2006, 7:47 AM


  • At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You make me think I should revisit Barry, and yes I did watch the whole three hours. And as far as Ryan O'neal is concerned, history is full of less thans rising to the ocassion when unsereptitiously they find themselves in the midst of things. His 'Peter Principle' was achieved in "The Main Event" and is to be enjoyed as it is. Not every oyster holds a pearl, but make the greatest sandwiches if procured in their petite stage and masterfully manuvered by your cultured pearl of a mother.

  • At 3:32 PM, Blogger Buzz Andersen said…

    Check out the awesome stuff about the f0.8 lens they had specially made for Barry Lyndon here.


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