Barry Lyndon (1975)

Barry Lyndon (1975), directed by Stanley Kubrick.

I remember when this was in the theater the common judgment was: "Gorgeous looking, every scene a painting. Dull story."

The story isn't dull, but the plot could have been covered without rushing in 90 minutes. What we get with the 3h05m running time is an extended visit to an artistic vision which is a strange combination of the realistic (clothes, settings, period lighting) with the fantasy perspective suggested by such lovely cinematography. It requires a commitment of time but there is always something wonderful to look at.

Thackeray's first book is a satire on this type of story. The joke is always on the puffed up narrator who inadvertently reveals his vulgarity when trying to establish his refinement. The movie is more of a tragic story and shifts most of the humor to a new sardonic narration by the great Michael Hordern.

Note the shifting tone of the different duels:

Unfairly, I never gave Ryan O'Neal much regard as an actor: too pretty, Peyton Place soap opera, Love Story, inconsequential romantic comedies. His old-school stoic demeanor is an asset to this role: even shallow rogues like Redmond Barry feel pain, and his suffering at the death of his child is moving, as is his reluctance to shoot the stepson who hates him.

I did not know until recently that O'Neal had a respectable amateur boxing record.

The main musical theme (as I was reminded recently) is Handel's "Sarabande".

Available on Blu-ray. The OAR is 1.66, altered to 1.77 here. Josh Zyber gives the details in his article 'Barry Lyndon' Aspect Ratio Controversy Solved.