Barry Lyndon - The Criterion Collection release, October 17, 2017

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. Read 314 times.

Larkston Zinaspic

https://www.criterion.com/films/29008-barry-lyndon

Admittedly I haven't watched this film in many years but this new release seems as good an excuse as any to immerse myself completely in this film, even though I'm not even sure how the new 4K restoration will stack up to the current Blu Ray, which I don't own anyway.

It's arguable that Kubrick may be at the peak of his powers here, even if it's not my favorite of his films. Nearly every shot is a powerful statement on it's own.

One of my favorite scenes...
https://youtu.be/TbUYRAS7XI8

Possibly the most appropriate kidney punch / savage beating in the history of cinema. If nothing else, Redmond Barry would have made a great hockey player.

Tyson

Hot damn, I can't wait!  The prior bluray release by Warner Brothers is pretty mediocre - fairly soft and lacking in detail.  4k scan from Criterion - holy cow!

wushuliu

Such a great moment movie.

Tyson

My copy just arrived - dropped it in and... holy shit this is NOT a small improvement.  Wow, the 4k scan they used, along with the much, much better color accuracy and density - they elevate the entire experience of this movie.  The prior Warner Brothers blu ray was soft looking and had overblown colors, both of which made the movie and the characters seem foolish and silly.  The new Criterion presentation presents them as foolish, but also tragic instead of silly. 

This might just elevate Barry Lyndon to the level of my 2nd favorite Kubrick movie.  Thumbs way up!

Tyson

So I did a funny thing last night.  I watched it without the sound turned on.  I do this sometimes with the great movies, especially Kubrick's.  The interesting thing that emerged was that most of the satire and silliness comes from the very droll voice over of the Narrator, who is not at ALL impressed with Redmond Barry.  But if you watch it with the sound turned off, you only can go by what you see on the screen, and not by what the Narrator tells you. 

What emerges is an actually heroic (and tragic) figure.  Barry never shirks from his duty or a challenge.  He beats a bigger, meathead fellow soldier at boxing in front of the regiment, he carries his cousin out of the firing path during the war, he falls in love with a Prussian girl whom he is forced to leave, he even fires into the ground during the final duel as a matter of honor (causing himself much pain & loss in the process).  He does lose his way a bit when he's actively trying to become royalty, but even then he's the most honorable among that rather despicable lot.  So, not a perfect man, but a good man. 

The other thing that emerges from this newer 4k restoration is the performance of Ryan O'Neal.  With the prior Warner release he just looked like a blank slate, someone that looks like he just does not quite understand what's going on around him.  Most people (including me) just assumed O'Neal didn't have the acting chops needed for a movie like this.  But with the extra detail and clarity of the 4k scan, what you see is that O'Neal is playing Barry as an introvert, and he does in fact register things but it's very, very subtle.  You have to watch and pay attention or you'll miss it.  Its kind of brilliant, actually.  In the movie, such subtlety makes Barry's enemies constantly underestimate him, while in real life, the people viewing the movie miss the subtlety and thus miss out on the beauty of O'Neal's performance. 

Anyway, IME this is one of the best movie releases of this year. 

Photon46

Thanks for your impressions Tyson, you've sold me on getting that new release! I think Barry Lyndon is one of the greats, a most wonderful and beautiful film. Frame after frame in the film are like cinematic realizations of a George Morland or Thomas Gainsborough landscape painting. I always thought that Barry Lyndon and Paper Moon were the two best films Ryan O'Neal made.

Larkston Zinaspic

Excellent insights, and I couldn't agree more. It was surprising how quickly the time went watching this unflinching look at the rather extraordinary life of Barry Lyndon. A flawed, imperfect hero, committed to indulge his passions and challenge his circumstances...and suffer the consequences. Barry seems to grow in most profound ways after his deepest losses, and the demise of young Bryan--with the triumphant Händel Sarabande suddenly appearing more like a requiem mass--is an almost perfectly devastating sequence.

Until I saw the accompanying documentary, I didn't know that Leon Vitali actually vomited in the barn scene with the final duel. As if that scence wasn't intense enough!

Tyson

Thanks for your impressions Tyson, you've sold me on getting that new release! I think Barry Lyndon is one of the greats, a most wonderful and beautiful film. Frame after frame in the film are like cinematic realizations of a George Morland or Thomas Gainsborough landscape painting. I always thought that Barry Lyndon and Paper Moon were the two best films Ryan O'Neal made.

Oh yes, and the extra detail makes the landscapes even more breathtaking.  Plus it's presented in the correct aspect ratio of 1.66 to 1 instead of the prior 1.75 to 1 ratio in the Warner box.  This is important, because Kubrick specifically shot the movie this way to match the ratio of paintings by people like Gainsborough.  Crazy!

Excellent insights, and I couldn't agree more. It was surprising how quickly the time went watching this unflinching look at the rather extraordinary life of Barry Lyndon. A flawed, imperfect hero, committed to indulge his passions and challenge his circumstances...and suffer the consequences. Barry seems to grow in most profound ways after his deepest losses, and the demise of young Bryan--with the triumphant Händel Sarabande suddenly appearing more like a death mass--is an almost perfectly devastating sequence.

Until I saw the accompanying documentary, I didn't know that Leon Vitali actually vomited in the barn scene with the final duel. As if that scence wasn't intense enough!

Thanks!  One other thing that I love about this movie is how it compresses time periods.  Barry is from a different (and prior) time period than the Narrator (who already knows Barry's full story before it starts).  But the Narrator (to us) is also from a prior time period as well, and is also dead (from our present day perspective).  And last but not least, the movie itself is from a prior time period than 2017, and the maker of it (Kubrick) is dead.  So while we are watching Barry Lyndon, we are seeing all three of these different time periods compressed into a single image, over the entire movie.  I think it was one of Kubrick's little jokes, because for most people, anything that happened more than 20 or 30 years ago is all part of a jumbled, undifferentiated "past". 

I think very few people pick up on the fact that the Narrator is not a contemporary of Barry.  And of course the Narrator is British and Barry is Irish (and thus the Narrator despises him, on principal). 


Kubrick, I believe, was also fascinated by the difference between our public selves and our private selves.  Barry has to construct a public persona, particularly after becoming Barry Lyndon, in order to 'fit in'.  The strain of wearing that public mask is something that precipitates certain intense moments, like the flogging of his step son.  A lot of the movie is about public 'performances' vs private lives.  Such as the public fisticuffs in front of the regiment, the public marches that Captain Quinn engages in (and the public dances) to win over Nora, the formal (and semi-public) duels that are constantly fought, etc.... Contrast to the more private moments, like Barry and the Prussian girl falling in love, Barry's grief over his son's death, etc....

The really crazy thing is that the movie encompasses all that, and more.  And of course this ALL comes from Kubrick.  What an astonishing director he was.