Master director Stanley Kubrick turned to the 18th-century novel by William Makepeace Thackeray for this costume drama about an Irish rogue who climbs to the top of English aristocratic society.
Barry Lyndon focuses on poor Irish boy Redmond Barry (Ryan O’Neal) – describing his rise and fall from grace.
Believing he has killed a man in a duel, the young Redmond enlists in the army. After his first taste of combat in the Seven Years’ War, he’s caught attempting to desert and is forced to enlist in the Prussian army.
Taking up with fellow Irishman the Chevalier de Balibari, he finally escapes army life and begins a profitable career as a gambler.
He eventually marries wealthy English countess Lady Lyndon, and squanders the Lyndon family fortune in an attempt to buy the title of Lord, but only incurs the hostility of her 10-year-old son Lord Bullingdon.
Lyndon is eventually undone by his own greed and egotism and we leave him alone, poverty-stricken and minus one of his legs.
The film was an $11 million production – well made and beautifully photographed, but energy and emotion were sorely lacking, and most moviegoers probably walked out of this three-hour ordeal more dazed than entertained.
Determined to film by natural or historically accurate light sources, Kubrick and his cinematographer John Alcott acquired super-fast lenses to capture scenes lit only by candles.
The production was set against the music of Bach, Handel, Schubert, Mozart, and Vivaldi, and the film’s cinematography won Oscars for Art Direction, Costume Design and Musical Score.
Redmond Barry/Barry Lyndon
Lady Honoria Lyndon
Chevalier de Balibari
Reverend Samuel Runt
Sir Charles Lyndon