Barry Lyndon Movie Poster 
 

Part 1 - By What Means Redmond Barry Acquired The Style And Title Of Barry Lyndon' reads the title card and so beings the eloquent narration from Sir Michael Hordern.

The tale commences in eighteenth-century Ireland, where a brooding young man in Redmond Barry (O'Neal), battles for the heart of his flirtatious cousin, Nora Brady (Hamilton) against the cowardly Captain Quinn, of the English army.

The officer is man of property and wealth, where as our Redmond is of less considerable means... hence the family's desire for the hand of marriage to be in union with the Englishman. At the announcement of the wedding, the volatile Redmond audaciously glasses the cowering Captain Quinn, played superbly by English comic legend Leonard Rossiter.

After initially threatening to return to England, the dishonored captain is coerced into dueling for Nora's hand. Of course, Redmond is only to keen to duel... beneath a beautiful sunny sky the rival's meet, 12 paces apart, each armed with pistols. The young antagonist is surer of shot and drops and apparently kills the English officer.

He is forced to flee to Dublin, by the worried family who fear that, Redmond will face fierce retribution from the English army. So he sets off, on a steed, in his Sunday best, with a generous allowance in his pocket. Alas, Redmond is quickly relieved of his swagger as it were, by highwayman Captain Feeney (O'Sullivan), of the most eloquent disposition and his son Seamus.

Upon arrival in Dublin, Redmond enlists in the English army and joins the ranks in the Seven Years War. At one particular battle he encounters an old family friend, Captain Grogan (Quigley) who informs that his duel with Captain Quinn had been a scam... Redmond's pistol loaded only with tow... Quinn fainted after being hit... with this act, he disposed of his rival and acquired the hand of cousin Nora.

Redmond though has left such provincial matters behind and is set to travel on a road of adventure, deception, wealth, love, power and ultimate decay of his dreams. Redmond's odyssey begins after he steals the uniform, identity papers and horse of an officer, who had left them by a riverbank, as he bathed and gushed his dubious affections to a fellow officer.

Redmond's deception is soon blown though... by the inquisitive Captain Potzdorf (Kruger) of the Prussian army, whom he encounters on his desertion. The Captain initially provides a welcomed friendly face but his questioning soon uncovers Barry's façade and the Captain gives the deserter a proposition he can ill afford to decline... sign up to the Prussian cause or face the consequences of his crime.

Two years into his service, Captain Potzdorf calls upon Redmond to spy on Chevalier du Balbari, (Magee)... whom is believed to be a spy from Ireland, by the Ministry of Police and the Captain... Barry attains appointment with the wily fellow and at their initial meeting, feels compelled to blubber that he has been sent to spy on him... his countryman obviously appreciating his candidness, takes him under his wing and they leave the country.
They go into partnership as cardsharps, cheating the local gentry out of a small fortune... Redmond playing the placid butler, secretly signals to the cunning Chevalier. Having attained a small fortune through their erroneous gambling tactics, Redmond finds himself rubbing shoulders with the social elite.

It is here that he beings his quest for a wife, governed not by a search for love & union but for a title and status. He sets his sights and considerable charms onto the wife of a terminally ill member of the aristocracy, Sir Charles Lyndon (Middlemass). And so brings forth, like Stanley Kubrick's previous film, Spartacus (1960)... an intermission and conclusion of part one.

It is part two that Redmond Barry continues his gambles, but this time the charade is not conducted around the gambling table but in the arena of marriage. Having secured the title of Barry Lyndon through the amalgamation with the beautiful but emotionally sterile Countess Lyndon (Berenson), he proceeds to quickly dissolve their marriage in an drunken fuelled binge and open infidelity.

Yet from this sham marriage comes the one thing that Barry actually loves... his son Bryan (Morley). Through the film, Barry seems to embrace father figures, presumably to replace his own father, whom had died in a duel at the beginning of the film. Captain Grogan, Captain Potzdorf and Chevalier du Balbari had provided temporary parochial support to him, but you feel the protagonist is left unfulfilled. He himself fails as a father, unable to act as a balanced parent to both his son Bryan and Lord Bullingdon (Vitali)... Sir Charles'son.

From humble beginnings, Barry has reached the pinnacle of society... yet he has no power without Lady Lyndon's signature. Thus Barry's mother (Kean) sets him on the trail to attain the title of Lord Lyndon, to safe guard for his future.

From here on in he is devoured by the aristocracy... his estate beings to crumble, as he is inexplicable drawn like Johnny Clay, Colonel Dax, David Bowman and Jack Torrence, to the inevitable Kubrickian finale.

Don't forget that Barry Lyndon is now available to order on Widescreen DVD using our special 70s search device... [See DVD section or click here for more details]
Written By: Stuart Fitzgerald [Contact]

Critics have much maligned the film... saying its characters lack warmth or humanity. The dialogue is fairly sparse and you attain the bulk of the story from Sir Michael Hordern's preemptive narration which informs of events prior to them actually happening on the screen. It was said that this drained the drama from the events as you were prepared for them. Yet by removing the element of shock this creates a more fatalistic sense of the inescapable. This adds gravity to the scenes which otherwise would have seemed melodramatic or contrived or just plain dull... a masterstroke.

Although the dramatic surprise is negated, this allows for one to fully appreciate the lavish sets and humorous script... its superb juxtaposition of social courtesy and under-current of social superciliousness is memorable. The scenes where this duplicitous is most masterfully done is when the highwayman, Captain Feeney, whose act of contrition and exceptional use of language, is delightful.... 'And now I'm afraid we must get on to the more regrettable stage of our brief acquaintance." As he then robs Redmond of his horse & money.

Kubrick's use of space and architecture to create his artistic universes for his films is phenomenal. He was adamant that you could not recreate the 18th century authentically, much to the chagrin of production designer Ken Adam. Hence all locations used where legitimate stately homes, this gave the backdrop to the film an opulent radiance of spectacular beauty and maximum authenticity.

He filmed certain scenes in candlelight only... using a camera lens he had acquired from NASA for filming in space... he used genuine lavish period costumes and even made the musicians perform with instruments from the era.

In 2001: A Space Odyssey the viewer got a slice of the potential realities of space travel. The same intoxicating reality of being transported to another era is one of the strengths of Barry Lyndon. One can almost smell the heady scent of candles and feel the tension in the claustraphobic, smoke filled gambling rooms.

The conceitedness, unhappiness and destruction of personality that can occur in an overtly pampered society is also very real and is a recurring Kubrickian theme. Upon arriving at his dreams he is almost instantly bored by it and was clearly happier as a battling infantryman or as a butler to the fatherly Chevalier, this proving the old adage about how people who acquire wealth and power are usually unhappy and furthermore having these so called attributes can actually be very destructive to certain individuals like Barry Lyndon.

A truly beautiful and fascinating film of a poor Irishman's ascent into the aristocracy... whereby he his arrival only erodes and destroys everything around him, including himself.

The film ends in the year 1789, which was the year of the French Revolution and great change for the aristocracy across Europe... a rebirth if you will... does that make Barry Lyndon, Star Child part two or enfant terrible?


Rewind Factor: 9

The film was based on a novel by William Makepeace Thackeray (1843), The Luck of Barry Lyndon; a Romance of the Last Century, and was first published in Fraser's Magazine 1845.

In 1977 Steven Spielberg was quoted in UK magazine Sight & Sound as saying, "I like Barry Lyndon, but for me it was like going through the Prado without lunch.

Marisa Berenson (Lady Lyndon) was a former Elle cover girl who had turned to acting and had also languished elegantly as Dirk Bogarde's wife in Luchino Visconti's "Death In Venice" (1971).

As Barry Lyndon spiraled out of budget, investor John Calley was quoted in Time magazine, It would make no sense to tell Kubrick, "OK, fella, you've got one more week to finish this thing." What you would get then is a mediocre film that cost, say, $8 million, instead of a masterpiece that cost $11 million. When somebody is spending a lot of your money, you are wise to give him time to do the job right.'

Kubrick's lack of enthusiasm for the audition/casting process, led him to rehire actors from previous films; Patrick Magee (Chevalier) Leonard Rossiter (CaptainQuinn), Phillip Stone (Graham) Anthony Sharp (Lord Hallam) Godfrey Quigley (Captain Grogan) and Steven Berkoff (Lord Ludd) had all featured in 'A Clockwork Orange' (1971). Leonard Rossiter (Captain Quinn) also had a memorable cameo in '2001: A Space Odyssey.' Leon Vitali (Lord Bullingdon) featured in 'Eyes Wide Shut' (1999)

Marisa Berenson didn't have to audition either. Apparently she was sitting in her apartment in Paris, when the phone rang... it was Kubrick, who said that he'd seen her in Bob Fosse's film 'Cabaret' (1972)...and would she be available to film later in the year. He told her little of the plot bar absolute basics... she instantly committed to the film nonetheless due to the high regard she held for the director.

Kubrick fired actor Oskar Werner, who had starred in Francois Truffaut's Farenheit 451 (1968) after three weeks filming. He was replaced by seasoned actor Hardy Kruger, for the role of Captain Potzdorf.

Bob Anderson, the coach of the British Olympic fencing team was hired to train the actors in the art of swordplay. Steven Berkoff accidentally stabbed Ryan O'Neal in the knuckle during a fencing duel. Well he says it was an accident!

Barry Lyndon was shot in three hundred days over two years!

Los Angeles Times said of the film... 'the motion picture equivalent of one of those very large, very expensive, very elegant and very dull books that exist solely to be seen on coffee tables.'

British critic Michael Billington said... 'all art and no matter; a series of still pictures which will please the retina while denying our hunger for drama. And far from recreating another century, it more accurately embalms it.'

Legendary US director Martin Scorsese is an alleged huge fan of the film!

Some of the film's sequences were shot in Pottsdam and East Berlin, Germany. But these scenes where done by the crew as Kubrick stayed at home in England... he was not fond of travel and refused to fly anywhere.

Ryan O'Neal wore 15 different wigs during the film. They were created by Leonard of London... who acquired the copious amounts of hair required from a nunnery... from scissored hair of young Italian girls, who were entering religious practice.

The Barry Lyndon production had been in Ireland for six months planning and shooting when filming was suspended. Although Kubrick denied it, it is alleged that the terrorist group the IRA made bomb threats to the production. Within 24 hours the director and his company had returned to England.

Many of the stately homes used were open to the public at the time, and Kubrick couldn't restrict the visitors. Although the production had certain rooms to themselves the corridors outside weren't closed off. This entailed that shooting was only possible when the tours weren't running.

Kubrick sent Gay Hamilton & Leonard Rossiter to a dance teacher to learn the Irish dance they would have to perform in the film. They performed it perfectly, but the director kept making them do take after take... in the end they were exhausted and were performing it almost carelessly after so many takes... this was so that they appeared to have been doing the dance their whole lives and were not immersed in the pedantry of precise steps... Kubrick would go to extraordinary lengths for the right shot... he probably wasn't even running the camera for the first 20 takes!

Do you know some Barry Lyndon trivia that we could add? [Please send it in]


Featured Location: Lyndon estate
Wanna see the real life location used for Lyndon estate in the movie? It was actually filmed at Castle Howard, located at York, YORKSHIRE, England.


Other stately homes used were Wilton (Salisbury), Petworth (Sussex) and Longleat (Wiltshire).

The scene where Redmond Barry meets Captain Potzdorf were locations in Waterford & Kerkenny in Ireland.

Dublin Castle was used as the Chevalier’s home.

« Featured Link: Locations Breakdown

Can you help? Do you know any of the England (or any other) filming locations used for Barry Lyndon? [Please send them in]

Barry Lyndon DVD  Barry Lyndon on DVD?
 
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[USA or Region 1 DVD]
[16:9 -Widescreen Enhanced][5.1 CH SURROUND]Trailer
Our Comments: Good transfer & remix soundtrack but lamentable lack of extras
[UK / Europe or Region 2 DVD]
[16:9 -Widescreen Enhanced]
[5.1 CH SURROUND]
Trailer
Our Comments: Good transfer & remix soundtrack but lamentable lack of extras
 
Barry Lyndon Soundtrack

Kubrick chose moody and full blooded instrumental music to perfectly complement his luscious visuals. Track listing of the soundtrack is as follows:

1. Sarabande Main Title
2. Women of Ireland - The Chieftains
3. Piper's Maggot Jig
4. Sea-Maiden - The Chieftains
5. Tin Whistles - Paddy Moloney
6. British Grenadiers
7. Hohenfriedberger March
8. Lilliburlero
9. Women of Ireland - Derek Bell
10. March from "Idomeneo"
11. Sarabande-Duel
12. Lilliburlero
13. German Dance No. 1 in C-Major
14. Sarabande - Duel
15. Cavatina from "Il Barbiere Di Siviglia"
16. Cello Concerto E-Minor (Third Movement)
17. Adagio from Concerto for Two Harpsichords and Orchestra in C-Minor
18. Piano Trio in E-Flat, Op. 100 (Second Movement)
19. Sarabande End

Soundtrack Available: On CD

 


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"The rise and fall of Redmond Barry"

 
Barry Lyndon Picture
The full might of the British Army
Barry Lyndon Picture
Nora Brady and Captain Quinn
Barry Lyndon Picture
The pain of War
Barry Lyndon Picture
Languishing elegance

Barry Lyndon Movie Details
Year:
1975
Studio:
Warner Bros
Director:
Stanley Kubrick
Starring:
Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Leonard Rossiter, Patrick Magee, Godfrey Quigley, Leon Vitali, Arthur O'Sullivan, Steven Berkoff
--
Genre:
Drama / Historic
  
+
Kubrick's most humanistic film. A visually arresting masterpiece.
-
A nulling, lamentable 18th century costume drama fronted by waxwork characters, which runs at a tedious length.

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All original content is ©1999, 2007 Fast Rewind WebSites. Page Written By: Stuart Fitzgerald