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A Film Diary

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Watched: 31 October

Stanley Kubrick’s lush, epic adaptation of Thackeray’s18th century tale The Luck Of Barry Lyndon – which tells of an Irishman seeking a place among the aristocracy – looks incredible from start to finish; not only in terms of the period production design, but also the cinematography – with shots specifically designed to recall the paintings of William Hogarth, and DP John Alcott working wonders with natural light (he still holds the record today for the lowest f-stop lens used in a film). It’s a rare director who can sustain such meticulous planning, visual beauty and attention to detail across three straight hours, but the delights of Barry Lyndon don’t just stop with its appearance; there’s the playful narration by Michael Hordern, the enigmatic central performance by Ryan O’Neal and the mark-making supporting turns, my favourite of which is by Leonard Rossiter, who sadly exits the film after roughly twenty minutes. Split into two acts, Barry is very much on the up throughout the first, despite certain disasters befalling him (robbed by a notorious highwayman, caught by the Prussian Army not long after he deserts the British Army, etc.). Having achieved the status he covets, it’s all downhill in the second act as his luck noticeably runs out, though equally various decisions he makes contribute to his downfall from high society. An excellent, thoroughly engaging film. (*****)

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