Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Barry Lyndon

In life we meet people with tremendous flaws that we can't help but root for on certain occasions. On other occasions we root against them, but with reservations because we know there is some goodness somewhere just waiting for a chance to shine. Such is the case of Barry Lyndon. Barry Lyndon, formerly Redmond Barry, is a likeable enough man. I wanted him to succeed because he did do everything he could to increase his status and get ahead in life. However, I wanted him to fail for just those same reasons. 

Ryan O'Neal is someone I wasn't too familiar with before watching this movie. The name did sound like something I had heard before and his face did look like something I had seen before, but I just couldn't place where or when I'd watched something featuring Ryan O'Neal. Had someone said that he was in the television show Bones I would have had a huge "Duh, so that's where I know him from moment." Well, that and A Bridge Too Far

You could have also said he was Tatum O'Neal's dad. 

Ryan O'Neal is the gentleman that portrays the not-so-gentleman Barry Lyndon on the big screen for us and he carries this movie on his shoulders. His costar in this movie is not an actual person, but is instead the fantastic sense of lighting, setting, and costume. Kubrick always made beautiful films, but Barry Lyndon definitely takes the cake. It is just beautiful and I found myself watching the setting and the characters the way the characters appeared to be watching each other. 

I felt mesmerized. It didn't really matter in the end whether or not Barry Lyndon succeeded or failed as long as the movie looked good. That's not to say I wasn't moved by the story because it was certainly moving. Tragically moving. It's just that, like with a lot of other Kubrick movies, there's something about how aesthetically pleasing the surroundings are that you just find yourself forgetting other people are in the room talking about important stuff that relates to the plot. 
I found myself pausing my blu-ray a few times to go back a few seconds every now and then to figure out what was going on while I was staring at the costumes or whatever. It just looked so freaking good and it is needless to say that this three hour movie was made a bit longer by doing that. 

The narrator Michael Hordern and his lines were a definite plus for me. I really liked how he described Barry's brief relationship with a lonely wife of a soldier during the time when Barry was wandering around. That was an epic burn before people knew what epic burns were... or was that term around in 1975? Whoever wrote that deserved a cupcake. 

In the first half of the movie I did find myself rooting for Barry. It seemed like he was always getting the short end of the stick, but he was resourceful and found a way to get around his obstacles. While not always ethical it was certainly admirable. Then in the second half of the movie I found myself hating his guts at times. After achieving his long-sought success he did nothing but act like his struggles had never happened and kept taking advantage of the situation. So essentially what got him his success is what lost him his fortune. Making an enemy of his stepson didn't help matters, either. 

I felt bad for Lady Honoria Lyndon and as much as I didn't like her oldest son I at least understood why he was so pissed off at Barry. Despite his capability for good deeds, Barry's infidelity, treatment of Lady Lyndon, and mismanagement of money did turn me against him, too. However, the death of Barry's own son did help me make amends with Barry and the final duel between Barry and Lord Bullingdon left me feeling at cross purposes with myself. I knew who probably should win from a moral standpoint, but I also knew who I kind of wanted to win from the likeability standpoint. 

Barry Lyndon is a classic movie and immensely underrated. Fantastic cast of character actors with an excellent atmosphere. Watch it, buy it, and watch it again. 

Maybe one of these days I'll read the book. Although I think I have a quota of one historical novel a decade and that has just been met. 


  1. This is a great film that the masses can't appreciate. I don't think anyone would be allowed to make such a slow moving big budget film these days. You've probably heard me say this before (maybe not heard but probably read); I can watch Kubrick movies with the sound off and still enjoy them. Too bad there are only 10 of them (not counting his 2 or 3 earliest ones before he got his mojo working). I think 9 of the 10 are must see, great films (I need to see Eyes Wide Shut again and give it another shot - I wasn't as impressed as usual but I need to see it again to see if I was just having an off day).

    Ryan O'Neal seemed an odd choice but it worked very well. I don't think he ever did anything else like this in his career. I think of him as more of a TV actor than movies although he probably did equal amounts of both.

  2. I just watched Eyes Wide Shut again. The first time I saw it, I liked it but not nearly as much as the other Kubrick films. This time around, I liked it much more than the first time I saw it. It is such an odd film that it's hard to get a handle on what it's really about. The story was taken from a 1920s novel and adapted into a 1990s tale. If the novel was anything like the movie, the novel must have been quite shocking in the 1920s. Anyway, I liked this one better the second time and I think I will probably like it even better next time I see it. If there were more Kubrick films, I might not watch anything else but Kubrick films. I have never re watched one without coming away with a different perspective of it each time. He was amazing.

    1. I haven't watched Eyes Wide Shut, but I believe I will when i get the chance. I've also been in the mood for some Kirk Douglas movies lately so I'll probably give Paths of Glory (haven't seen it) a look when I get a chance. I also want to try and get all of the other Kubrick movies a view like Lolita, The Killing, Killer's Kiss, and Fear & Desire. Those are all the ones I have seen.

      For now I think I'm committed to watching the Harry Potter films, though.

  3. Paths Of Glory is great. I haven't seen those first 3 Kubrick movies so I am going to search them out one of these days. Whenever there is a Kubrick collection of dvds, those first 3 are never included. I think 2 of the 3 are well thought of but you never see them anywhere.