Thursday, July 24, 2014

A-Z Movies, B: "Barry Lyndon"

Recommended by:
E’an (friend)

Movie Stats:
Released 1975 (UK & USA simultaneously)
American & British, in English (significant amounts of non-translated German; minimal non-translated French)
Director - Stanley Kubrick
Stars - Ryan O’Neal

Plot Summary:
The slow rise and meteoric fall of commoner Redmond Barry, aka Barry Lyndon (O’Neal), set against the backdrop of 18th century Europe.

Violence; implied sexual scenarios.

Bad Stuff:
I didn’t like that Irishman Barry Lyndon didn’t have an Irish accent. It was especially noticeable when he was surrounded by other characters speaking with Irish accents. Later in the movie, when O’Neal spoke German with a passable accent, I had to wonder why he couldn’t have pulled off an Irish accent.

It’s way too long. It could have been maybe half the length and been a tremendously enjoyable movie. There were a few scenes in particular that seemed to drag on forever. They felt overplayed, like when an SNL skit goes on for a long time and I find myself thinking, “Dude, I got the point like five minutes ago. Move on already!”

I didn’t like that Barry Lyndon became less likable/sympathetic as the story went on. It felt like a waste of my time to continue caring about what happened to him.

Good Stuff:
The costumes and make-up were great. I didn’t even realize what a great job they’d done making O’Neal look like a teenager in the beginning until later on, when he was playing closer to his actual age (early 30s).

I could tell that the physical film was of high quality. A lot of films from the 70s are dark or grainy or over-saturated with light so everything looks washed out. In other words, they tend to look crappy. Everything in this film has a beautiful, crisp quality to it though. And the cinematography is gorgeous.

In a lot of scenes, the dialogue is sparse. The director let the actors’ actions, facial expressions, and body language do all the talking. I really liked that. Some of those scenes were incredibly powerful.

The Verdict:
It was okay. It would be an overstatement to say I hated it, or even that I didn’t like it. In many ways, I thought it was a very likable film. In fact, I’d have to say that, for the first half, I quite enjoyed it. It wasn’t until the second half (after an actual intermission!) that my attention began to wane. I didn’t much care for the story line about his marriage of convenience, as I felt that Barry’s turn toward complete and utter jerkdom sort of came out of the blue (there were some allusions to the fact that Barry had learned to do “bad things” while serving in the Prussian army but none of those bad things were shown so he was essentially still a largely lovable dope until his marriage). 

If the film had stopped at the intermission, it would be getting a higher rating. However, it did not, so it gets 3.5 stars.


Patricia said...

"It’s way too long"

Pretty much sums up every Kubrick film I've seen.

But! It has an intermission! You know how I love those.

balyien said...

I was thinking I hadn't seen a lot of Kubrick films but when I looked him up on IMDB, I realized that I had. However, I've seen them all so long ago that I don't really remember them. I suspect that I'm not really a fan. BTW, I included the comment about the intermission for you. :)