Eighteenth century Europe was a brutal, violent, corrupt society with the thinnest patina of civilization. Aristocrats may have called themselves "gentlemen", but that was a cover for the greed, avarice and blood lust. Only an amoral fool would want any part of this, and that's what Barry Lyndon gives us, the story of an amoral fool who finds his place in the aristocracy because he, like them, is all vice and no virtue.
If that doesn't sound appealing to you, then you should at least consider that this is one of the most beautiful movies ever made, a rich tapestry of color and light, where every frame looks like a William Hogarth painting. This a slow movie — some might say boring — but I couldn't take my eyes away from it.