“Barry Lyndon”, Stanley Kubrick’s movie, or “The Luck of Barry Lyndon”, William Tackeray’s novel? Both have a special place in my heart, but today, I will be discussing the movie because of its visual prowess and because Kubrick is one of my favorite directors.

“Barry Lyndon” was produced in 1975 and combines the talents of Ryan O’Neal and Marisa Berenson in an anthological piece of modern cinema, filmed in a period setting bathed in natural lighting. Pre-filming preparation lasted a full year and the movie itself was shot in no less than 300 days.

The movie, which resembles a live, moving painting, documents Barry Lyndon’s social evolution from 1750 to 1789. His rise and fall from penniless Irish orphan to many other social positions is truly spectacular.

Without a thing to call his own during his youth, he manages to score a place in English high-society by marrying Lady Lyndon. This marriage will bring him a son, a colossal fortune and a good position in an hermetic society but it will also bring him total social death.

The violent cynicism depicted in the movie has been the subject of much discussion, with many thinking that the tone gave an unpleasant color to Barry Lyndon’s character.

Yet, despite Barry Lyndon being at different times thief, an identity thief and an opportunist, he is also sincere, bordering on naïve, brave and loyal. His acquired cruelty and violence are more a result of his weakness than the sign of a mean streak.

Neither super-hero nor anti-hero, Barry Lyndon is simply and fully human in both his moments of mediocrity and courage.

However, what is clear all along is that much of his misery is linked to corrupt, failing society in which he evolves, and where powerful people are cynical to the core. With Barry Lyndon, Kubrick offers a sharp critique of a social class motivated solely by its own interests, where the modus operandi is naught but pettiness and betrayal.

Similarly to some of his other movies, real violence is not where you would first expect to find it, and in that respect, “Barry Lyndon” is an echo of Alex, the protagonist in A Clockwork Orange.

December 27, 2019

Dress by Marcel & Jeannette – Shoes by Joanna Delys

At the Lancaster Paris hotel