"Barry Lyndon" Is Released

Barry Lyndon (1975) is a period film by Stanley Kubrick loosely based on the novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1844) by William Makepeace Thackeray.

It recounts the exploits of unscrupulous 18th century Irish adventurer Barry Lyndon, particularly his rise and fall in English society. Ryan O'Neal stars as the title character.

Although the film was only a modest commercial success at the time, and had a mixed critical reception, in recent years it has come to be regarded not only as one of Kubrick's finest films, but indeed as a classic of world cinema. It was part of Time magazine's poll of the 100 best films as well as the Village Voice poll conducted in 1999 and was ranked #27 in Sight and Sound's 2002 film critics poll. Director Martin Scorsese has cited Barry Lyndon as his favorite Kubrick movie. Quotations from it appeared in such disparate works as Scorsese's The Age of Innocence, Lars von Trier's Dogville and Wes Anderson's Rushmore.

With ornate imagery reminiscent of paintings from the story's 18th century period, Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's novel depicts the rise and fall of a sensitive rogue in the British aristocracy. Young Irishman Redmond Barry (Ryan O'Neal) leaves home to seek his fortune after apparently killing an English officer in a duel. Through a series of mishaps and accidents, Barry winds up fighting with the Prussian army in the Seven Years' War under the command of Capt. Potzdorf (Hardy Kruger); at war's end, Potzdorf enlists Barry to spy on a shady Chevalier (Patrick Magee). Instead, Barry joins up with the Irish Chevalier to flee Prussia and live as gamblers among Europe's elite. Wishing to climb even higher, Barry soon meets the beautiful Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson), marrying her for her fortune after her older titled husband dies. Her son Lord Bullingdon (Leon Vitali), however, despises the upstart Barry, and, regardless of how his mother may feel, sees to it that the re-named Barry Lyndon will never be able to stake his claim to the entrenched aristocracy. Coming after Kubrick's esteemed hits 2001 (1968) and A Clockwork Orange (1971), Barry Lyndon opened with high expectations and met with decidedly mixed responses to its restrained tone. Even with Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Director (and wins for Cinematography, Art Direction, Costumes, and Adapted Score), Barry Lyndon was a box office failure, as mid-'70s audiences increasingly turned away from such narrative challenges as its epic length and muffled emotions. Since then, Barry Lyndon has gained in stature, taking its place among the formidable artistic achievements of Kubrick's career. ~ Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide