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Sunday, February 10, 2013

78 of 1001 Movies: Barry Lyndon (1975)

With 2001: A Space Odyssey being one of the first movies to kick off the list it set it up that Stanley Kubrick might have a lot more on this list that were going to be watched, and it didn't take long to get there with Barry Lyndon. This isn't one of his more popular movies like The Shining, and was actually quite a flop at the box office. The amount of awards it received, and it's notoriety for being a visually appeasing movie though has made it a classic to watch.

Barry Lyndon is a guy who finds himself setting off to make a slow moving, but sort of adventurous journey from being no one to someone. After getting upset that his cousin, Nora, has chosen to marry another man, he sets up a shoot off duel to get rid of his opponent. When he believes he has killed him though he sets out to hide out in Dublin awhile till things have blown over. He runs into misfortune though that winds him up in the British army, which further worsens his situation until he finds things looking up when he meets a gambling man who then brings his path across, Lady Honoria Lyndon. This woman has a fortune, and he is well set up by her money. Her son though is always doubtful of him as a step-dad, and finds much competition in the son Barry has with Lady Honoria.


Ryan O'Neal plays the part of the Irishmen who later wins the affection of the very wealthy lady. As Barry Lyndon he suits the part. Lyndon isn't a very likable character, and even without knowing why you exactly dislike him at the beginning you just feel you don't. The thing is when your lead character is dislikable, and he is the sole person moving the movie forward it feels odd trying to form any attachment to it because you really don't care what happens to him. Neal is sort of emotionless as Lyndon, which works because to do what Barry does in his life you sort of have to be.

Marissa Berenson also comes in as Lady Honoria, and just as Neal seems to portray his character very emotionless  Honoria also seems very lacking as far as having emotions, unless they are around their kids for that matter. She usually has a blank expression, and it's no wonder they end up together. They seem like two people who have just had a lot of misfortunes, and a few positives along the way, but never grasp those things because they just lack the ability to have depth as people.

What will garner most the movie's attention though is the fact that it has a lot of beautiful shots. When the movie gets a little darker the sunshine is gone, and when lighter you have lots of warmth and light. The costumes are also very rich in color, and well done, and they capture the time well that the movie is set in. Visually the movie has a lot to offer. Some scenes seem to be just to show off the great location that Barry Lyndon was shot in.

Barry Lyndon isn't really one that is going to have people flocking to theaters. It has a lot of art to it, the movie is slow for much of it, though you can't help but wonder where Barry will go next, you don't like the characters too much  and it is extremely long. The twists though as far as how Barry will weave his way next out of a situation does keep the story at an interesting level. You sort of end up seeing why people dislike Barry just as much as you will though.

Rating 3 of 5.




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