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Barry Lyndon

437 customer reviews

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(Jun 12, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

In 1975 the world was at Stanley Kubrick's feet. His films Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and A Clockwork Orange, released in the previous dozen years, had provoked rapture and consternation--not merely in the film community, but in the culture at large. On the basis of that smashing hat trick, Kubrick was almost certainly the most famous film director of his generation, and absolutely the one most likely to rewire the collective mind of the movie audience. And what did this radical, at-least-20-years-ahead-of-his-time filmmaker give the world in 1975? A stately, three-hour costume drama based on an obscure Thackeray novel from 1844. A picaresque story about an Irish lad (Ryan O'Neal, then a major star) who climbs his way into high society, Barry Lyndon bewildered some critics (Pauline Kael called it "an ice-pack of a movie") and did only middling business with patient audiences. The film was clearly a technical advance, with its unique camerawork (incorporating the use of prototype Zeiss lenses capable of filming by actual candlelight) and sumptuous production design. But its hero is a distinctly underwhelming, even unsympathetic fellow, and Kubrick does not try to engage the audience's emotions in anything like the usual way.

Why, then, is Barry Lyndon a masterpiece? Because it uncannily captures the shape and rhythm of a human life in a way few other films have; because Kubrick's command of design and landscape is never decorative but always apiece with his hero's journey; and because every last detail counts. Even the film's chilly style is thawed by the warm narration of the great English actor Michael Hordern and the Irish songs of the Chieftains. Poor Barry's life doesn't matter much in the end, yet the care Kubrick brings to the telling of it is perhaps the director's most compassionate gesture toward that most peculiar species of animal called man. And the final, wry title card provides the perfect Kubrickian sendoff--a sentiment that is even more poignant since Kubrick's premature death. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Krüger, Steven Berkoff
  • Directors: Stanley Kubrick
  • Writers: Stanley Kubrick, William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Producers: Stanley Kubrick, Bernard Williams, Jan Harlan
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, Letterboxed, Original recording remastered, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 12, 2001
  • Run Time: 184 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (437 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005ATQ9
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,783 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Barry Lyndon" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 115 people found the following review helpful By David E.Baldwin on August 7, 2004
Format: DVD
I am an unabashed Kubrick fan. I was initiated into his work with "A Clockwork Orange" when I was 16 and went from there. Why is it that "Barry Lyndon" has in my mind surpassed other more revered works. You can cite the magnificent technical attributes of the film(cinematography,art direction, costume design,music), however, a technically proficient movie is not necessarily a moving experience. I would have to say that what elevates this movie is the screenplay and the acting. Kubrick does a great job moving the story from Redmond Barry's youth to his downfall among the English aristocracy. Kubrick has also gathered a great cast of actors here in supporting roles(Parick Magee, Leonard Rossiter, Marie Kean, Godfrey Quigley, Steven Berkof, etc.). What cannot be overlooked is the performance of Ryan O'Neal. If some find him wooden or off-putting should consider that he is essentially playing an unsympathetic rogue. It is a daring performance and O'Neal is utterly convincing whether playing a headstrong teenager or a cold manipulator. One gripe about the DVDs in the Kubrick Collection: with the exception of "The Shining", the only extras on these discs are trailers.
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75 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Brian W. Fairbanks VINE VOICE on August 27, 2004
Format: DVD
Jack Warner is said to have once told an underling not to bring him any movies about people who write with feather pens. The mogul believed that costume epics were dull and plodding, guaranteed to test the patience of most audiences.

When Stanley Kubrick delivered his film "Barry Lyndon" to Warner Bros. in 1975, the studio's namesake was long gone, and that was probably for the best since he may have chosen not to release what is the ultimate feather pen movie and also Kubrick's greatest masterpiece. If asked to do the impossible and name the best film ever made, I wouldn't hesitate to give my vote to "Barry Lyndon."

Plodding? Yes. Dull? To those who demand rapid fire editing, it may be the dullest movie ever. For those who appreciate fine literature and fine art, "Barry Lyndon" is an absolute feast, visually, aurally, and dramatically. Based on an obscure novel by William Thackeray, it's the story of an Irish lad climbing the ranks of English society, alienating everyone in his path.

As Redmond Barry, Ryan O' Neal's Irish brogue comes and goes, but despite that inconsistency, he acquits himself well. Also worth noting is Michael Hordern's narrator, often seeming to express disapproval for the main character as he perceptively surveys his exploits.

The real star of the film is Kubrick and his production team who recreate the 17th century in a way that makes the viewer truly appreciate what life must have been like at the time. Watching the women, most notably the beautiful Marisa Berenson, sashaying about in glamourous dresses, one wonders how they could endure the apparent discomfort of such cumbersome clothing. It's no wonder they took so many baths.
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80 of 88 people found the following review helpful By M. Hickey on October 25, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In 1975, one European reviewer wrote: "One collapses in one's seat and is propelled in a state of drunken euphoria." That's just how I felt about it, going back to experience "Barry Lyndon" over and over again at the Los Angeles Cinerama Dome theater in 1975-76. So I give the movie 5 stars. But for the standard 3x4 DVD (1:1.33 aspect ratio), only 3.
Having recently watched the 16x9 Hi-Def Blu-Ray discs of "Eyes Wide Shut" and "A Clockwork Orange" (after having watched the old standard DVDs a number of times), I can say that Hi-Def makes an important difference with Kubrick's movies -- not just because they are gorgeously photographed, but because the richness of the images conveys so much essential, visceral meaning that even a slightly degraded picture (i.e., standard DVD) actually impairs the work's emotional fullness, clarity and expressiveness. So much of "Barry Lyndon" consists of pure image and music, and so many of the images are meant to intoxicate, that the film needs to be seen in the best possible technical presentation.
Short of a new 35mm print, a 16x9 Blu-Ray disc displayed on a big 1080 set in the dark, uninterrupted, is the way to watch all of Kubrick, perhaps especially "Barry Lyndon." Now, finally, Warners Brothers Home Entertainment will release "Barry Lyndon" in Hi-Def on Blu-Ray disc on May 31, 2011. Yes, that means you have to buy it again, but if Warners' Hi-Def releases of their other Kubrick films are any indication, it will be worth it. With any luck, this Hi-Def release should accelerate the recent critical rehabilitation of this tragically under-appreciated masterpiece.
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122 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Clyde E. Deal on December 3, 2011
Format: DVD
First off; I have not purchased THIS PARTICULAR version of this all-time great film, however, I do want to purchase it for a friend who has bluray. The problem with this particular release is that the bluray version seems to be a terrible transfer. My real issue here aside from the fact that Warner Brothers continues to foist garbage transfers on an unsuspecting public is that ONCE AGAIN, refuses to separate it's product reviews, so it is simply IMPOSSIBLE for me to ascertain the quality of the DVD RELEASE vs. the BLURAY RELEASE.

AMAZON.COM, if you are going to continue to provide customer reviews, PLEASE STOP mixing reviews for separate products together; The QUALITY OF INDIVIDUAL RELEASES IS DIFFERENT AND AFFECTS THE CUSTOMER'S DECISION TO BUY!
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Barry Lyndon on Blu?
As Warner Brothers has evidently abdicated their responsibility, maybe Criterion Collection would take on the High Definition transfer and BluRay release of "Barry Lyndon." CC's website offers an opportunity to suggest titles for them to consider. I suggest fans of this masterpiece... Read More
Apr 23, 2010 by M. Hickey |  See all 14 posts
No. Although there is a fair amount of dialogue in other languages (German, French), "Barry Lyndon" has never had subtitles for this dialogue, including the original theatrical release. One can generally comprehend what is being said from the context, tone of voice and performance.
Apr 23, 2010 by M. Hickey |  See all 2 posts
Special Features
Theatrical trailer & list of awards/nominations. My copy lists Production Notes on the back, but there is none to be found.
Jan 17, 2010 by Kerry J. Koenig |  See all 2 posts
"Amazon Exclusive" vs the Blu Ray Release Be the first to reply
The Soundtrack Be the first to reply
This should clear up the arguments about the aspect ratio..... Be the first to reply
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