Barry Lyndon | Denver Film Society | Stanley Kubrick | United Kingdom

Barry Lyndon

Stanley Kubrick

United Kingdom1975184 min


No upcoming showtimes scheduled.


One Screening Only! On 35mm film!
Sunday, March 26th at 1pm

"One exquisitely beautiful image after another." - Martin Scorsese

"Needs to be seen on the big screen." - Total Film

Perhaps Kubrick's most underrated film, Barry Lyndon - adapted from William Makepeace Thackery's 1844 picaresque novel The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq, As Told By Himself - inhabits 18th century the way A Clockwork Orange and 2001:A Space Odyssey inhabit the future, with perfect sets, costumes, and cinematography trapping characters whose rises and falls are at once deeply tragic and absurdly comical.

Narrated in avuncular form by Michael Hordern, who replaces Thackeray's ironically self-serving first-person hero with wise third-person melancholia, the film follows the fortunes of Redmond Barry (Ryan O'Neil), a handsome Irish youth forced to flee his hometown after a duel with a cowardly English officer (Leonard Rossiter). Stripped of his small fortune by a deferential highwayman, Barry joins the British army and fights in the Seven Years War, attempting a desertion that leads him to the Prussian army. A position as a spy on an exquisitely painted con man (Patrick Magee) leads to a life of gambling around the courts of Europe, and just before the intermission our hero achieves all he could want by marrying the wealthy, titled, beautiful widow Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson). A sign of Barry's willingness to humiliate himself for worldly advancement is that he takes his married name from his wife's titled first husband. However, Part Two reveals that Barry can no more be "a clockwork orange" than the protagonist in Kubrick's previous film, and his spendthrift ways, foolhardy pursuit of social advancement, and unwise treatment of his new family lead to several disasters, climaxing in another horrific (yet farcical) duel.

Shot by John Alcott almost entirely in the "magic hour," that point of the day when the light is mistily perfect, with innovative use of candle light for interiors, Barry Lyndon looks ravishing, but perfection of its images is matched by the inner turmoil of seemingly frozen characters, Kubrick is often accused of being unemotional, but his restraint here is all the more affecting, as when Barry is struck by the deaths of those close to him, his wife writhes into madness, or his stepson (Leon Vitali) vomits before he can stand his ground in a duel. - Kim Newman

Winner of Oscars for: Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, and Music Adaptation. Nominated for: Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay.

On numerous polls (Sight & Sound, Time, BBC, Village Voice) as one of the greatest films ever made.

Check out this new trailer commissioned by the BFI of London for a recent rerelease of the film: