Movie – Barry Lyndon [REVIEW] – Great Was His Rise… And Much Greater His Fall

IMDb Rating: 8,1/10
Genres: Adventure, Drama, History, War
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writers: Stanley KubrickWilliam Makepeace Thackeray
Stars: Ryan O’NealMarisa BerensonPatrick Magee


This has been a long time since I have reviewed “The Shining,” “Full Metal Jacket,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “A Clockwork Orange,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Ever since I reviewed the first movie of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining” in October last year, I now witness a masterpiece of the movie I’ve watched. “Barry Lyndon” is the sixth film from Stanley Kubrick I’ve seen. Even though it’s still a year, I think it just happened yesterday. But, we’ll be discussing the tenth movie of Stanley Kubrick.

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In the Eighteenth Century, in a small village in Ireland, Redmond Barry is a young farm boy in love with his cousin Nora Brady. When Nora gets engaged to the British Captain John Quin, Barry challenges him to a duel of pistols. He wins and escapes to Dublin but is robbed on the road. Without an alternative, Barry joins the British Army to fight in the Seven Years War. He deserts and is forced to join the Prussian Army where he saves the life of his captain and becomes his protégé and spy of the Irish gambler Chevalier de Balibari. He helps Chevalier and becomes his associate until he decides to marry the wealthy Lady Lyndon. They move to England and Barry, in his obsession of nobility, dissipates her fortune and makes a dangerous and revengeful enemy.

Source: IMDb

Ryan O'Neal and Godfrey Quigley in Barry Lyndon (1975)

When people said the Stanley Kubrick’s movies such as “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Shining,” “A Clockwork Orange,” and “Full Metal Jacket,” “Barry Lyndon” is the most underrated of his work. In fact, at the beginning of the premiere of “The Shining,” it is found that a lot of criticism towards the film until becoming a cult-classic masterpiece of the critics and directors who make it as an influence for their film. I unusually hear people state according to this movie when asked what is their Stanley Kubrick favorite works. Almost all of them said “The Shining” or “2001: A Space Odyssey” until “Barry Lyndon” as overlaid by the films. By any means, I love all his films after first watching “The Shining” until “2001: A Space Odyssey.” For myself, “Barry Lyndon” seems to be a little forgotten considering there are so many great filmmakers who make it as their favorite such as Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese. And as always, “Barry Lyndon” is adapted from an 1844 novel entitled “The Luck of Barry Lyndon” by William Makepeace Thackeray. First of all, three hours is a challenge for movie lovers especially if they don’t like the genre, the atmosphere, or the slow pace. Honestly, Barry Lyndon involves things like that to me but it’s interesting to keep up with the story. The plot is so slow and there is always a silent scene until the characters are doing a slow movement. Although these circumstances affect Barry Lyndon, this movie doesn’t change the possibility that the storyline which is created to be something the most interesting and beautiful ever. The atmosphere and the setting that reminds me of a game called “Assassin’s Creed III” is able to keep me on track as long as the movie apart from this is a boring historical drama.

Marisa Berenson and Ryan O'Neal in Barry Lyndon (1975)

If you look closely at the screen, you can see how clearly Stanley Kubrick designed the attractive property and cinematography from the fascinating costumes, atmosphere, the dialogue of the 18th century, it such as witnessing a real history back then and we enjoyed in the present times. For more details, you can pause this movie whatever you do it and you seems like looking at classic wall paintings in realistic images and illustrated on a wall which is a movie. The story makes me always think and feel that someone’s life seems to be running gently, just like what Redmond experienced from his life from a farming boy, being a soldier, being a spy, to becoming a part of the royal family. This point is an interesting thing in all aspects because we don’t know what will happen next. In essence, it’s unpredictable and always draws unexpected astonishments. When talking about Stanley Kubrick, he always inserted an important message in it whether it’s a sci-fi movie which fascinated about philosophy, a war movie which allows us to wonder what war is mean, a dark-comedy satire movie but deviates from everything. “Barry Lyndon” is a concept about someone who remains without a direction. This is the story of Redmond Barry starting from his journey without direction to find the things that are speculated and become a noble who wants to always find a sense of satisfaction until getting a retribution. Just as humans which are never satisfied with such things. In this case, Barry is a description of a person who has been lost in his life, lost in his love story, his friends, and society. When he got through it, Barry wasn’t satisfied with what he had found. It can also be known from the explanation of the narrator who’ll explain it from the beginning to the end. So, most of the plot of the story you can understand through the narrative providing which it uses first and third point of view.

Barry Lyndon (1975)

In all aspects, I can’t look for the flaws and mistakes of this movie. However, my minor problem is some of the characters are missing. For example Nora Brady and John Quin who had a perception at the beginning, their character was mentioned in the middle of the story but never appeared where making it pointless. For all of the characters, I don’t think there’s any constraint in the aspect. The depth of the story which is told in this film not only that but from the use of music that feels thick and feeling like the atmosphere of the 18th century, the cinematography which often shows close-up to zoom out which has its own meaning, until the use of lighting and the atmosphere in this movie that feels the details. Ryan O’Neal as Barry Lyndon is so phenomenal. He is able to make a sympathy towards the audience subjectively to his character that feels familiar with reality. Marisa Berenson as Lady Honoria Lyndon isn’t too great but able to show her facial expression with a very stunning without using a rich dialogue. Leon Vitali as Lord Bullingdon is so amazing as a young kid that represents a plot of revenge and envy of his life being snatched away by a person. One scene, especially at the final duel shootout between Barry and Lord Bullingdon, is such the best of all from the use of the block, the intense atmosphere is raised little by little, until the unpredictable character who will win. Of all these aspects, “Barry Lyndon” by far is one of my favorite Stanley Kubrick I’ve ever seen regardless of its pace that so slow and a very long duration.

5 Star


Barry Lyndon” is just a phenomenal movie like watching a moving 18th-century painting. The use of the costumes that felt thick in the atmosphere of the time, the background and the environment that looks neat, the use of classical music orchestra that feels thick at the time, the use of lighting, Ryan O’Neal and Leon Vitali are so tempting of some intense between their conflict, I think this is by far the best of Stanley Kubrick. Apart from the slow running pace and three hours long, I never get bored when I see a story which is hard to predict from start to finish. One of the underrated masterpieces that people seems a little forgotten.

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