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Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Produced by: Stanley Kubrick
Summary by Cretu Irina
"Barry Lyndon" is one of the most acclaimed films of Stanley Kubrick. Based on the 1844 novel "The Luck of Barry Lyndon" by William Makepeace Thackeray, the story follows the life of the hero from birth to death, revealing an impenitent man without character, a poor Irish rogue who enters the world of the British Aristocracy in the late 18th Century.
An interesting aspect of the film is that we find out long before the end of the film what is about to happen through the objective voice of the narrator. The loss of a fortune and of a wife and son, culminating with losing a leg, are the tragic elements which compose the doomed destiny of Barry Lyndon (Ryan O'Neal).
The film consists of two parts. The first part ("By what means Redmond Barry acquired the style and title of Barry Lyndon") emphasizes the main character from an incestuous youth to his presence in the Aristocracy by marrying Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson).
At the beginning, Barry falls in love with his cousin, Nora Brady (Gay Hamilton). This relationship will be the source point for his future actions. Nora is courted by the English Captain John Quinn (Leonard Rossiter). She will marry him for financial reasons, not out of love. This fact causes a nervous breakdown to Barry, who breaks a glass over Quinn's head before their duel. Barry wins the duel, but Nora is not interested in true love. She is an opportunistic selfish woman who prefers financial security, just like Barry, who joins the military for its salary. We are presented a multitude of outrageous actions of this Irish rogue, who reaches in the end the British Aristocracy. He impersonates an English Officer, cheats at cards, takes advantage of lonely German woman and becomes a double agent of sorts for the Prussian military. This will be the moment when Barry joins the Chevalier and together they cheat at cards and enter by deceit the Aristocracy. Here, Barry meets Lady Lyndon, a very reach aristocratic woman with a dying husband and a small child. After the death of her husband, Barry marries Lady Lyndon and becomes the noble Barry Lyndon.
The second part of the film ("Containing an Account of the Misfortunes and Disasters which Befell Barry Lyndon") discloses the real face of Barry. Greedy, manipulative, vicious and pitiless, he starts to seduce the housekeepers and widows. He even brings his mother (Marie Kean) in the mansion. She is the one who encourages him in his avarice. The Lady's eldest son, Lord Bullington (Leon Vitali), observes the the real character of Barry and renounces him as a father. Barry and Lady Lyndon have also a child of their own, Brain, who dies from falling off of a horse. This tragic event humanizes Barry and we see him very affected by the death of his son. In the end, Barry loses the duel to Lord Bullington and leaves the country in exile with his leg amputated.
The whole film is impeccably staged with innovative cinema techniques and slow scenes which look like veritable paintings. The music of Bach and Mozart is used in order to create a great effect in many of the scenes.
Every Stanley Kubrick film is an incredible piece of art and "Barry Lyndon" is no exception. It had an impressive success in the United States and was nominated for numerous Academy Awards.
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