Barry Lyndon | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

With the possible exceptions of Killer's Kiss and A Clockwork Orange all of Stanley Kubrick's features look better now than when they were first released, and Barry Lyndon, which fared poorly at the box office in 1975, remains his most underrated (though Eyes Wide Shut is already running a close second). This personal, idiosyncratic, and melancholy three-hour adaptation of the Thackeray novel may not be an unqualified artistic success, but it's still a good deal more substantial and provocative than most critics were willing to admit. Exquisitely shot in natural light (or, in night scenes, candlelight) by John Alcott, it makes frequent use of slow backward zooms that distance us, both historically and emotionally, from its rambling picaresque narrative about an 18th-century Irish upstart (Ryan O'Neal). Despite its ponderous pacing and funereal moods, the film is highly accomplished as a piece of storytelling, and it builds to one of the most suspenseful duels ever staged. It also repays close attention as a complex and fascinating historical meditation, as enigmatic in its way as 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Music Box's weeklong Kubrick retrospective includes a new print of this and several other films, and it offers an excellent opportunity to reevaluate a filmmaker whose work continues to deepen after his death. With Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Kruger, and Leonard Rossiter; narrated by Michael Hordern. Music Box, Thursday, August 31. --Jonathan Rosenbaum

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Jonathan Rosenbaum

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
The Better Half Steppenwolf Theatre, 1700 Theatre
November 08
Performing Arts
Spirits to Enforce Berry Memorial United Methodist Church
November 08

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories