Barry Lyndon 1975 ½

I would like to say before I pass my judgement on this film, that cinema is a story telling medium. Lynch fans and cinematographers seem to forget this all too often. It is the job of a filmmaker to tell a story, not just to present the audience with a pretty picture or clever spectacle. With that being said, I have two major issues with the film "Barry Lyndon," and neither of them are with the cinematography. I have always said the Stanley Kubrick is the best cinematographer in history.

Barry Lyndon is a character of such mediocrity that to watch him is to watch the very essence of potential be wasted on directionless meandering. This lack of intensity results in an inability to sustain the audience's attention for very long at all. Lyndon is a person who goes around manipulating people, and we are supposed to sympathize with him when this results in misery? No, I think not. I found myself wishing him dead near the end of the film, which is not a pleasant experience. I don't like to wish other people harm, and I resent Kubrick for forcing it on me by presenting me with a lad of great promise, then slowing turning him into a monster before my eyes. Had Kubrick chosen a character of the time more worthy of depiction the film might have been worth the three whole hours it took to view it.

The film itself is little more than a series of vignettes tied together by a central character. None of these vignettes are very poignant, and only briefly brush against profundity amongst those who feel nostalgia for nationalism lost. As I find myself in love with the whole earth, not just the part where I spent the first few years of my life, I simply could not relate, and I find anyone who can to be silly and childish.

2 Comments

  • I felt Barry was meant to be an unenviable character, not necessarily someone to sympathize with. There's a detached quality to the whole affair that I found quite humorous, particularly the way the narration tells you what is going to happen before it actually does, because you then get to just sit back and watch the events unfold. Because of that it's difficult not to laugh at him, and I got the impression that Barry was being mocked from the start, as though the film was a bit of court gossip.

    If I remember correctly I did start to symphatize with him but only towards the end, regarding the circumstances of the duel, and although I still didn't like him I no longer found anything funny about the character, I merely pitied him. At least that was my interpretation when I viewed it (which may be incorrect), and "nostalgia for nationalism lost" certaintly doesn't fit into that given the satirical tone (for lack of a better term)...

    Anyway "½ = This film is devoid of anything worth watching" - how can you say that if you acknowledge the cinematography!? It should be at least one star!

  • A mistake that people often make when they haven't seen many older films (1900 - 1938) is believe that great cinematography is enough to hold the attention of the audience (or even required to tell a story). It's not. A film with great cinematography illustrating a story that is devoid of inspiration is like an egg that is missing the whites, and the yolk. It's good for not much else besides arbitrary admiration. I'm sure a cinematographer could learn something from the film, but aside from that incredibly small group of select individuals the film is completely useless.

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