Saturday, February 23, 2008

Better Late Than Never

Somehow I missed Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" when it came out in 1975. It was nominated for, but did not win, Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay Adaptation. It won Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Adapted Music. It is based on the mid-19th Century William Makepeace Thackeray novel of the same name.

It is a truly beautiful movie. Every scene is a gorgeous still. For reasons best known only to the late Stanley Kubrick, Ryan O'Neal who plays the lead has the same hangdog expression in every season no matter what is going on. Every other actor performs handsomely and persuasively except Marisa Berenson as Barry Lyndon's wife, who is kept as expressionless as O'Neal.

There is some sort of story, presumably a cautionary tale about being an asshole, but it doesn't seem to signify much. Rather it is a series of views of the most beautiful scenes of rural Ireland, England, and Germany, invariably in the most lovely late afternoon light, and of glorious interiors of 18th century palaces in each country.

There are some wonderful scenes of armies of the Seven Years War (1756-1763). As an aside, Churchill with justice called it the first world war. It was fought in India, in America it was the French and Indian War, and was fought all over Europe from Spain to Russia. It is estimated to have cost a million lives overall.

The music was as sumptuous as the cinematography. Some of the music during the Prussian scenes was by Frederick the Great.

Once one gets used to Ryan O'Neal never changing expression, it is a genuinely fine movie and if one hasn't seen it, one should definitely rent it.

No comments:

Post a Comment