By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on July 2, 2011)
Barry Lyndon – Warner Bros. Blu-ray
Although it remains a mystery as to why Stanley Kubrick’s most visually sumptuous film took so long to arrive on Blu-ray, I’m just happy that it finally has. This beautifully constructed, leisurely paced adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s rags-to-riches-to-rags tale about a roguish Irishman (Ryan O’Neal) who grifts his way into the English aristocracy is like watching 18th-century paintings come to life (and to its detractors, about as exciting as being forced to stare at a painting for 3 hours, strapped to a chair).
This magnificent film has improved with age, like a fine wine; successive viewings prove the legends about Kubrick’s obsession with the minutest of details regarding production design were not exaggerated-every frame is steeped in verisimilitude. Michael Hordern’s delightfully droll voice over work as The Narrator rescues the proceedings from sliding into staidness.
Warner includes no extras to speak of (they are notorious for issuing “bare bones” editions), but the film looks spectacular.