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Thread: BARRY LYNDON (1975) Criterion

  1. #1
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    BARRY LYNDON (1975) Criterion

    BARRY LYNDON, Stanley Kubrick’s 10th feature film was released on DVD by the Criterion Collection as spine #897.


    My review will focus on the second disc of special features.
    The film is my favourite Kubrick and my favourite film period.



    Disc two has a nice menu of 8 options with a selection of music from the soundtrack accompanying it.
    We also get 2 theatrical trailers.
    In the 90’s I fell in love with this film when I took the 2-VHS TAPE set out of the public library.
    The fact that it was in two opulent parts on two separate tapes made it feel really important.
    I kept checking the set out, over and over, marvelling at it more and more.
    There is no film like it. There are many period films, costume epics, but none that engaged me like Barry Lyndon did. None. This was it, as far as cinema went for me.



    First up is MAKING BARRY LYNDON.

    Brian Cook, Stanley’s daughter Katharine, his producer Jan Harlan, young Lord Bullingdon Domenic Savage, assistant Leon Vitali and even Stanley’s own voice illuminate his working methods.
    Perfection was achieved with this film, and we learn how.
    The Lighting!
    Oh the LIGHTING!....We hear Stanley say how false lighting is in most films.
    The COSTUMES....we hear how Stanley was impressed with the films The Emigrants and The New Land and how real the costumes looked. So he hired the costume designer of those films.
    We hear him say how no costumes were “designed”...he took actual cues from actual clothes.

    We learn about scouting locations, how there were no sets for Barry Lyndon- they were all real locations. Scenic Ireland, interiors of period homes, etc.
    We also learn of a kidnapping threat! The IRA threatened to kidnap Stanley!
    (They buggered out of there!)
    We learn of the casting process, and how Stanley treated actors.
    We learn his methods to “get the feeling right”, how he got actors to drop the pretense of acting.
    It was cool to learn that Kubrick’s scenes evolved from what was on the page.

    Did you know that during production Stanley got to talk to Queen Elizabeth?

    Germany was also used for locations, but not before German authorities confirmed that this wasn’t an anti-Communist propaganda film!
    We learn how it went over-budget, costing $11 million in total.
    Stanley was very budget-minded and Jan Harlan says he ultimately had to be satisfied with the film he delivered. Warner Brothers gave him complete artistic control.
    Last edited by Johann; 12-12-2020 at 02:36 PM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    Next is Achieving Perfection.

    This feature was made in 2017 by Criterion, and features Barry Lyndon focus puller Doug Milsome, gaffer Lou Bogue and excerpts from a John Alcott audio interview.

    “There’s Only One” director, says Milsome.
    He says working with Kubrick was long, intense, and thoroughly enjoyable.
    (But he doesn’t know if he could do it with another director- only Stanley!)
    Lenses are discussed, and John Alcott reminds us that Stanley was primarily a photographer.

    Kubrick’s crew were mathematically precise, hence why Stanley worked with them film to film- what they did was second nature, and were so knowledgeable that they rarely made mistakes.
    We hear of scenes being re-created from illustrations or paintings.
    Each frame of this film was perfectly composed, and we learn how and why.




    Next is TIMING AND TENSION.


    Tony Lawson gives us memories of editing Barry Lyndon.
    Editing began after principal photography was done, and was edited at Stanley’s house.
    We learn how laborious the editing process was on Steenbeck machines, how much work it was compared to editing a movie today.
    We learn of how music and narration shaped the film.
    Great special feature.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    Next is DRAMA IN DETAIL, all about production designer Ken Adam,
    Who won an Oscar for his work on Barry Lyndon.

    Historian Sir Chris Frayling tells us that Kubrick was impressed with Ken’s work on Dr. No, and felt he was the man to design the War room in Dr. Strangelove.
    Working with Stanley was very taxing for Ken, the relentless intellectual questions, the exacting details, etc. were very hard for Ken to deal with.
    Ken had worked on costumed dramas before, and Stanley tried to Jew Ken out of proper salary on Barry Lyndon! Stanley drove him nuts. He had a massive nervous breakdown!
    All of the “creative geography” and toil was worth it....Academy Award for Ken Adam!


    Next is Balancing Every Sound, a piece on the audio work of the film with Leon Vitali.

    Leon relays how most movie theatres of the day thought about sound last, and how Stanley reconciled that with having a decent mono mix. This Criterion DVD has a gorgeous 5.1 surround sound mix, thanks to the hard work of Vitali. He explains how mono can make sound seem “squished together”, and how 5.1 is cleaner and how sounds can be heard on their own merit.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    Next is On the Costumes.

    It’s a segment from a September 1976 broadcast of Les rendezvous-vous du dimanche.
    In it we hear Ulla-Britt Soderlund, Oscar winner for costumes on Barry Lyndon.
    Milena Canonero was the lead costume designer, and she worked under Milena.

    Ulla-Britt was costume designer for Jan Troell and worked in theatre in Copenhagen before film.
    We learn (again) that working with Kubrick is intense, that he expects you to work hard because HE works hard.
    We learn that the lace is authentic in Barry Lyndon- antique lace bought at Sotheby’s in London.
    The fine fabrics for the costumes were from Denmark, and they needed special treatment to get the “painting look”...
    Ryan O’Neal has 38 different costumes! Marisa Berenson has 20!
    The military uniforms were copies of the originals.


    Next is Passion and Reason, a new interview with famous critic Michel Ciment.

    Ciment has some really illuminating points about Stanley Kubrick.
    I won’t spoil them by repeating them, but I’ll give you one:
    Barry Lyndon is parallel to A Clockwork Orange.
    Both are in two parts and both protagonists have a rise and fall.


    Finally we have A Cinematic Canvas.

    The assistant curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Adam Eaker) talks about the fine art that inspired the visuals of Barry Lyndon.

    William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds are singled as dominant 18th century artists. Hogarth may very well be the “most cinematic” of the three. Kubrick clearly used him as inspiration for Barry Lyndon.
    I learned of a super-cool “Meta-Pictorial” painter that Kubrick was inspired by: Johan Zoffany.
    This feature will appeal to both art majors and film historians.

    I hope I haven’t spoiled the DVD for anyone.
    I wholeheartedly wish people would buy it and view it over and over.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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