Tuesday, February 28, 2006

#14: Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)


Because it's so perfectly poised, ironic, and authored.

6 comments:

JavierAG said...

What a stunning picture. It looks like a painting.

Nick Davis said...

The whole film looks like a painting. It's insane. I think I probably underestimated the movie when I saw it (in 35mm, happily!), because the whole thing was so goddamn gorgeous I could hardly get my mind around it. At the time, I associated this preoccupying surface with the film being "chilly," and I don't think this is wrong so much that it's actually key to the film that we remain outside it - would you say, Tim? I haven't seen it in all the years since, but I'm really eager for a re-view.

Nick Davis said...

(Just to clarify, when I say "underestimate," I did like the film a lot, but it was a cool admiration instead of real excitement. I realized that I made it sound like I wrote it off.)

(Oh, and has anyone ever looked more exquisite than Marisa Berenson does in this movie?)

tim r said...

Well, maybe Julie Christie on the funeral barge at the end of Don't Look Now. Just rewatched it the other day. Man.

Yes, we've got to stay outside. People often make this complaint about Kubrick's movies, that they seem somehow untouched by human hands. I sometimes agree that this is a problem — it can lead to a sort of didactic chilliness, drained of emotional content, when the theme (dehumanisation, very often) somehow falls into lockstep with the rigidity of the style. There's no friction. But here he uses the literary voiceover and the painterly visualisation (have the literary and painterly ever been better allied?) to enclose the characters within their exquisite but ultimately confining world. The effect of this knocks me for six, every time. Michael Hordern's brilliantly double-edged narration — not unlike John Hurt's in Dogville and Manderlay, come to think of it, though less poisonous — keeps giving Barry and co the illusion of free will, but he speaks with the patience and sympathy of someone who knows the outcome and doesn't quite have the heart to break it to them yet. It's left up to us to feel.

I feel. There's only one other Kubrick movie I like more.

Nick Davis said...

Whoa! More Kubrick coming up. There are only two that I don't like, unless someone can explain them to me, so I'm both hoping and not hoping it's one of those (since you'll inevitably convince me, as you do above).

But I'm not tipping my hand till you tip yours.

tim r said...

Now you just made me look them all up on NFP searching for grades. Stop that! I'm trying to work here! But several aren't graded — does this mean you saw them way back? It's certainly not Full Metal Jacket, which I think we've got to agree is his worst film. And it's not Eyes Wide Shut, though I love that nearly as much as you.

I now fear, like some kid in class trying to please his teacher, that at least three films in my top ten will not be to your taste...