Saturday, March 30, 2019

Barry Lyndon

Barry Lyndon: the opening shot. Death of Redmond Barry's father, the duellist to the left. Please do click on the images to enlarge them.

Barry Lyndon. First love, first love triangle. Ryan O'Neal (Redmond Barry), Gay Hamilton (Nora Brady), Leonard Rossiter (Captain Quin).

Barry Lyndon. Ryan O'Neal.

Barry Lyndon. The wedding. Murray Melvin (Reverend Samuel Runt), Patrick Magee (Chevalier du Balibari), Ryan O'Neal (Barry Lyndon), Marisa Berenson (Lady Lyndon), Marie Kean (Belle, Barry's mother), and Dominic Savage (young Lord Bullingdon, Lady Lyndon's son from the previous marriage).

Barry Lyndon. Barry (Ryan O'Neal) depressed and alcoholized after the death of his son Bryan.

Barry Lyndon / Barry Lyndon.
    GB / US © 1975 Warner Bros. PC: Hawk Films / Peregrine Productions. EX: Jan Harlan. P: Stanley Kubrick. Assoc. P: Bernard Williams.
    D: Stanley Kubrick. SC: Stanley Kubrick – based on the novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1844), reissued as The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq. by William Makepeace Thackeray – there is no Finnish translation. DP: John Alcott – 35 mm – 1,66:1 – Metrocolor / Eastmancolor – Arriflex 35 BL, Cooke Speed Panchro, Zeiss and Angenieux Lenses – Mitchell BNC, Canon K35, Zeiss and Angenieux Lenses – Arriflex 35-IIC, Cooke Speed Panchro Lenses. PD: Ken Adam. AD: Roy Walker. Cost: Milena Canonero, Ulla-Britt Söderlund. SFX: Gerry Johnston. ED: Tony Lawson. Casting: James Liggat.
    M: conductor and music adaptor: Leonard Rosenman.
Georg Friedrich Händel: Sarabande aus der Cembalosuite Nr. 4 in d-Moll / from the Suite for Harpsichord No. 4 in d minor, HWV 437, (comp. 1703–1706, publ. 1733), solo composition arranged for the orchestra as "Sarabande–Main Title" "Sarabande–Duel" "Sarabande–End Title", perf. National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Seán Ó Riada: "Women of Ireland", perf. Peadar Ó Doirnín, The Chieftains, harp: Derek Bell.
Sean Ó Riada: "Tin Whistles", perf. tin whistles: Paddy Moloney & Seán Potts.
"Piper's Maggot Jig", trad., perf. The Chieftains.
"The Sea-Maiden", trad., perf. The Chieftains.
"The British Grenadiers", trad., perf. Fifes & Drums"Lillibullero", trad., perf. Fifes & Drums, perf. Leslie Pearson.
"Der Hohenfriedberger" / "Hohenfriedberger Marsch" (1745), attributed to Friedrich der Grosse, perf. Fifes & Drums.
W. A. Mozart: March from Idomeneo KV 366, (1781), perf. National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Franz Schubert: "Deutscher Tanz Nr. 1 in C-Dur" aus 5 Deutsche Tänze mit 7 Trios und einer Coda, für Streichquartett, D 90 (1813), perf. National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Giovanni Paisiello: film adaptation of the cavatina from Il barbiere di Siviglia (1782), perf. National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Antonio Vivaldi: Sonata n. 5 in mi minore
RV 40 (della serie Sonate per violoncello e basso continuo) (not dated, Vivaldi died 1741), perf. Lucerne Festival Strings, cello Pierre Fournier, cond. Rudolf Baumgartner (Deutsche Grammophon).
J. S. Bach: Konzert c-Moll für zwei Cembali BWV 1060, Adagio 12/8 Es-Dur (late 1730s), perf. Münchener Bach-Orchester, harpsichords: Hedwig Bilgram, Karl Richter.
Franz Schubert: film adaptation of Klaviertrio Es-Dur op. 100, 2. Satz (1827), perf. Moray Welsh / Anthony Goldstone / Ralph Holmes.
    C as edited in Wikipedia: Michael Hordern (voice) as Narrator
    Ryan O’Neal as Redmond Barry (later Redmond Barry Lyndon)
    Marisa Berenson as Lady Honoria Lyndon
    Patrick Magee as the Chevalier du Balibari
    Hardy Krüger as Captain Potzdorf
    Gay Hamilton as Nora Brady
    Godfrey Quigley as Captain Grogan
    Steven Berkoff as Lord Ludd
    Wolf Kahler as Prince of Tübingen
    Marie Kean as Belle, Barry's mother
    Murray Melvin as Reverend Samuel Runt
    Frank Middlemass as Sir Charles Reginald Lyndon
    Leon Vitali as Lord Bullingdon
        Dominic Savage as young Bullingdon
    Leonard Rossiter as Captain John Quin
    André Morell as Lord Gustavus Adolphus Wendover
    Anthony Sharp as Lord Hallam
    Philip Stone as Graham
    David Morley as Bryan Patrick Lyndon
    Diana Körner as Lieschen (German Girl)
    Arthur O'Sullivan as Captain Feeney, the highwayman
    Billy Boyle as Seamus Feeney
    Roger Booth as King George III
Loc: England, Eire, Germany.
Filming dates: Dec 1973 – July 1974.
London release date: 11 Dec 1975.
Helsinki premiere: 24 Sep 1976, released by Warner-Columbia Films – VHS release 1980 by Scanvideo – DVD release 2001 by Sandrew Metronome Distribution – VET 84918 – K16 – 187 min – 185 min – Finnish premiere length 5075 m / 184 min
    35 mm print from Park Circus.
Screened at Kino Regina, Helsinki (Stanley Kubrick), 30 March 2019.

Barry Lyndon was the first Stanley Kubrick film which I reviewed – in September 1977 in Aviisi, the students' paper at the University of Tampere. Now at last I saw Barry Lyndon on a big screen again. Meanwhile I had revisited the epic on the home screen only.

My first impression had been that Kubrick had a problem of focus, but so it was often (always?) with Kubrick. And it always turned out that the focus problem was with the spectator whose expectations were frustrated because Kubrick kept changing his approach from film to film. Kubrick was like an explorer who always discovered new land. His films kept getting better when you revisited them. It's best to watch them with an open mind.

Barry Lyndon was not Kubrick's first historical epic, but in contrast to Paths of Glory and Spartacus the protagonist is not an identification figure. And in contrast to Tom Jones this work is not a piece of feelgood entertainment.

The protagonist is difficult to relate to. He is a shallow and opportunistic anti-hero, but he can also be generous, he risks his life to save his superior officer, his love to Lady Lyndon is genuine, as is his love to their son Bryan. Barry Lyndon is a complex figure but not in an engrossing way like Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. There is a connection between these characters. The greatest love in both men's lives is their child. Both lose the child in a riding accident. Lady and Barry Lyndon's agony for the death of their child is their last great mutual emotional experience.

Barry Lyndon is a picaresque story set in the Rococo period "before the Revolution". During the Seven Years' War King George III reigned in England, Frederick the Great was the king of Prussia and Louis XV was the absolute monarch in France. Sweden (including Finland), having lost its might in the Great Northern War, entered the Age of Liberty, participated ignominiously in the Seven Years' War and proceeded after a coup d'état into the Gustavian era. In America the Revolutionary War started.

In the cool but loving objectivity of this movie there is an affinity with Luchino Visconti's Senso and Il gattopardo. Although these films have been designed with a devotion to detail in landscapes, buildings, lived spaces, costumes, equipment and hairdos, the attention is not decorative. The period detail is informed by a sense of a philosophy of history.

Barry Lyndon's compilation soundtrack is one of the most engaging in the history of the cinema, and also in this aspect Kubrick was equal to Visconti. I believe that this score launched a revival for Händel's Sarabande (the main theme), Schubert's Piano Trio (the Lyndon marriage theme) and Séan Ó Riada's "Women of Ireland" (Nora's theme).

My initial frustration with Barry Lyndon had to do with the protagonist and the performance. Barry Lyndon is a hollow man, a man without qualities. Ryan O'Neal is convincing as an adventurer, soldier, gambler, lover, and boxer (being a trained boxer in reality). The film is a satire of class society and also a satire of Barry Lyndon as an outsider and upstart in high society. He copies the manners and mores of noblemen but he never really belongs. Also, he is an Irishman in England.

A special quality of the film is that it is not bitter or cynical. The story is a tragedy for all concerned, yet there is an epic sense of humour and a sunny disposition which is not cheap or flippant. While it does not make sense to relate to the protagonist, it is immensely rewarding to relate to the storyteller Stanley Kubrick.

Barry Lyndon belongs with Spartacus with the Stanley Kubrick films featuring homosexuality. I find Kubrick's approach neutral. His account of homosexuality is matter-of-fact, and it has not dated. Barry Lyndon also belongs to the Kubrick films which feature boxing like Day of the Fight, and there is an undercurrent of male passion sublimated as violence. There is also a beefcake aspect in these films. Ryan O'Neal's physical beauty is classical and harmonious like in Myron's sculptures, not exaggerated as in modern bodybuilding.

The cinematography of Barry Lyndon is one of the most breathtaking in the history of the cinema. I usually ignore Academy Awards, but the one won by the cinematographer John Alcott was richly deserved. In our previous Stanley Kubrick retrospectives it was possible to access the exceptionally brilliant Stanley Kubrick Estate Collection print. Now that that collection has been disposed last year, on display was a duped print which failed to convey the full glory of the cinematography but was clean and complete at 182 minutes.


2001: avaruusseikkailun tietokone HAL, Kellopeliappelsiinin brutaali ja väkivaltainen hulttio Alex ja Barry Lyndonin Redmond Barry ovat omalaatuinen nykyaikaisten sankareiden kolmikko: he ovat ristiriidassa kaiken sen kanssa mitä länsimainen kulttuuri on opettanut kunnioittamaan, ja silti he ovat elokuviensa viehättävimpiä ja sympaattisimpia hahmoja, kaikki samasta syystä –  he ovat ympäristönsä inhimillisimmät hahmot. Redmond Barryn epäonnistuminen hänen yrittäessään saavuttaa minuuttaan niillä ehdoilla jotka hänen yhteiskuntansa asettaa on hänen tragediansa, mutta samalla se on länsimaisen ihmisen tragedia yleensäkin. Tuo yhteiskunta, 1700-luvun Eurooppa, edustaa länsimaisen sivilisaation kehityksen muodollisinta vaihetta. Mukautuminen lukemattomiin ritualistisiin käytössääntöihin oli olennaista jokaiselle joka halusi vakiinnuttaa arvonsa ihmisenä. Pyrkiessään tulemaan “gentlemanniksi” Barry hyväksyy aikansa instituutiot. Vain kerran hän erehtyy käyttäytymään toisin kuin muodot sanelevat, ja tuo kerta, hänen hyökätessään poikapuolensa kimppuun, tuhoaa kaikki pyrkimykset aatelisarvoon, korkeimpaan elämänmuotoon jonka ihminen tuolloin saattoi saavuttaa.

Lukumääräisesti Barry Lyndonissa on enemmän väkivaltajaksoja kuin Kellopeliappelsiinissa, mutta kukaan ei ole noussut valittamaan sen väkivaltaisuudesta, sillä Kubrick esittää vain kerran, juuri tuon mainitun kerran, väkivallan alkukantaisena, sivistymättömänä ilmiönä. Muissa väkivaltajaksoissa käyttäytymisen ritualistinen arvokkuus – tappeluissa, kaksintaisteluissa, sotajaksoissa – peittää ja vääristää väkivallan lähdettä. 1700-luku uskoi kehittäneensä sosiaaliset muodot jotka olivat Jumalan kosmisen suunnitelman korkein ilmentymä. Barry, joka alistuu kulttuurinsa arvoille yrittäessään saavuttaa oman identiteettinsä, on lopulta fyysisesti epämuodostunut ja henkisesti rappeutunut; hänen kohtalonsa on länsimaisen ihmisen kohtalo.

Havainto että sivilisaation muodot ja instituutiot rappeuttavat ja vammauttavat ihmistä on Kubrickin, sellaista ei löydy 1700-luvun ajattelusta eikä Thackerayn romaanista johon Barry Lyndon perustuu. Redmond Barry kertoo romaanissa itse tarinansa, mikä pitää hänen tylsän pöyhkeytensä jatkuvasti esillä lukijalle; hän on Thackerayn satiirin kohde. Kubrick puolestaan käyttää puolueetonta kertojaa ja vaatii näyttelijöiltään melko jäykkää esitystä, mikä suuntaa satiirin toisin: eritysesti Ryan O’Nealin ja Marisa Berensonin esitykset korostavat sitä miten kulttuurin instituutiot etäännyttävät ihmistä hänen alkuperäisestä, elinvoimaisesta minästään. Kubrick on myös muunnellut alkuperäistä tarinaa, esimerkiksi loppujakso on hänen keksintöään: Lady Lyndon ja hänen poikansa käyvät läpi tilan velkoja taloudenhoitajan ja pastorin silmien alla; vammautunut ja rahalliseen hyvitykseen tyytynyt Barry vetäytyy hiljaisuuteen oman äitinsä kanssa. Raha, ei Jumalan kosminen suunnitelma, on länsimaisen sivilisaation tosi innoitus.

– Hans Feldmannin (Film Quarterly, Fall 1976) mukaan Eila Anttila


Part I

    By What Means Redmond Barry Acquired the Style and Title of Barry Lyndon

An omniscient (though possibly unreliable) narrator relates that in 1750s Ireland, the father of Redmond Barry is killed in a duel over a sale of some horses. The widow, disdaining offers of marriage, devotes herself to her only son.

Barry becomes infatuated with his older cousin, Nora Brady. Though she charms him during a card game, she later shows interest in a well-off British Army captain, John Quin, much to Barry's dismay. Nora and her family plan to leverage their finances through marriage, while Barry holds Quin in contempt and escalates the situation to a duel, when Barry shoots Quin. In the aftermath, he flees from the police towards Dublin, and is robbed by Captain Feeney, a highwayman.

Dejected, Barry joins the British Army. Some time after, he encounters Captain Grogan, a family friend. Grogan informs him that Barry did not in fact kill Quin, his dueling pistol having only been loaded with tow. The duel was staged by Nora's family to be rid of Barry so that their finances would be secured through a lucrative marriage.

His regiment is sent to Germany to fight in the Seven Years' War, where Grogan is fatally wounded in a skirmish preliminary to the Battle of Minden. Fed up with the war, Barry deserts the army, stealing an officer courier's uniform, horse, and identification papers. En route to neutral Holland he encounters the Prussian Captain Potzdorf, who, seeing through his disguise, offers him the choice of being turned back over to the British where he will be shot as a deserter, or enlisting in the Prussian Army. Barry enlists in his second army and later receives a special commendation from Frederick the Great for saving Potzdorf's life in a battle.

Two years later, after the war ends in 1763, Barry is employed by Captain Potzdorf's uncle in the Prussian Ministry of Police to become the servant of the Chevalier de Balibari, an itinerant professional gambler. The Prussians suspect he is an Irish spy and send Barry as an undercover agent to verify this. Barry is overcome with emotion upon meeting a fellow Irishman and reveals himself to the Chevalier immediately. They become confederates at the card table, where Barry and his fine eyesight relay information to his partner. After he and the Chevalier cheat the Prince of Tübingen at the card table, the Prince accuses the Chevalier (without proof) and refuses to pay his debt and demands satisfaction. When Barry relays this to his Prussian handlers, they (still suspecting that the Chevalier is a spy) are wary of allowing another meeting between the Chevalier and the Prince. So, the Prussians arrange for the Chevalier to be expelled from the country. Barry conveys this plan to the Chevalier, who flees in the night. The next morning, Barry, under disguise as the Chevalier, is escorted from Prussian territory by Prussian army officers.

Over the next few years, Barry and the Chevalier travel the spas and parlors of Europe, profiting from their gambling with Barry forcing payment from reluctant debtors with sword duels. Seeing that his life is going nowhere, Barry decides to marry into wealth. At a gambling table in Spa, he encounters the beautiful and wealthy Countess of Lyndon. He seduces and later marries her after the death of her elderly husband, Sir Charles Lyndon. Because Lyndon is frail, sickly, and old, Barry's goading and verbal repartee ultimately send him into a fit of convulsions that ends with his death. Barry's coup-de-grace is the assertion that "he who laughs last, wins".

Part II

    Containing an Account of the Misfortunes and Disasters Which Befell Barry Lyndon

In 1773, Barry takes the Countess' last name in marriage and settles in England to enjoy her wealth, still with no money of his own. Lord Bullingdon, Lady Lyndon's ten-year-old son by Sir Charles, does not approve of the marriage and quickly comes to despise Barry, calling him a "common opportunist" who does not truly love his mother. Barry retaliates by subjecting Bullingdon to systematic physical abuse. The Countess bears Barry a son, Bryan Patrick, but the marriage is unhappy: Barry is openly unfaithful and enjoys spending his wife's money on self-indulgent luxuries, while keeping his wife in seclusion.

Some years later, Barry's mother comes to live with him at the Lyndon estate. She warns her son that if Lady Lyndon were to die, all her wealth would go to her first-born son Lord Bullingdon, leaving Barry and his son Bryan penniless. Barry's mother advises him to obtain a noble title to protect himself. To further this goal, he cultivates the acquaintance of the influential Lord Wendover and begins to expend even larger sums of money to ingratiate himself to high society. All this effort is wasted, however, during a birthday party for Lady Lyndon. A now young adult Lord Bullingdon crashes the event where he publicly enumerates the reasons that he detests his stepfather so dearly, declaring it his intent to leave the family estate for as long as Barry remains there and married to his mother. Barry viciously assaults Bullingdon until he is physically restrained by the guests. This loses Barry the wealthy and powerful friends he has worked to entreat and he is cast out of polite society. Nevertheless, Bullingdon makes good on his word by leaving the estate and England.

In contrast to his mistreatment of his stepson, Barry proves an overindulgent and doting father to Bryan, with whom he spends all his time after Bullingdon's departure. He cannot refuse his son anything, and succumbs to Bryan's insistence on receiving a full-grown horse for his ninth birthday. Defying his parents' direct instructions that he ride the horse only in the presence of his father, the spoiled Bryan is thrown from the horse, paralyzed, and dies a few days later from his injuries.

The grief-stricken Barry turns to alcohol, while Lady Lyndon seeks solace in religion, assisted by the Reverend Samuel Runt, who had been tutor first to Lord Bullingdon and then to Bryan. Left in charge of the families' affairs while Barry and Lady Lyndon grieve, Barry's mother dismisses the Reverend, both because the family no longer needs (nor can afford, due to Barry's spending debts) a tutor and for fear that his influence worsens Lady Lyndon's condition. Plunging even deeper into grief, Lady Lyndon later attempts suicide (though she ingests only enough poison to make herself violently ill). The Reverend and the family's accountant Graham then seek out Lord Bullingdon. Upon hearing of these events, Lord Bullingdon returns to England where he finds Barry drunk in a gentlemen's club, mourning the loss of his son rather than being with Lady Lyndon. Bullingdon demands satisfaction for Barry's public assault, challenging him to a duel.

The duel with pistols is held in a tithe barn. A coin toss gives Bullingdon the right of first fire, but he nervously misfires his pistol as he prepares to shoot.Terrified, Bullingdon demands another chance before he vomits in fear. Barry, reluctant to shoot Bullingdon, magnanimously fires into the ground, but the unmoved Bullingdon refuses to let the duel end, claiming he has not received "satisfaction". In the second round, Bullingdon shoots Barry in his left leg. At a nearby inn, a surgeon informs Barry that the leg will need to be amputated below the knee if he is to survive.

While Barry is recovering, Bullingdon re-takes control of the Lyndon estate. A few days later, Lord Bullingdon sends a very nervous Graham to the inn with a proposition: Lord Bullingdon will grant Barry an annuity of five hundred guineas a year on the condition that he leave England, with payments ending the moment should Barry ever return. Otherwise, with his credit and bank accounts exhausted, Barry's creditors and bill collectors will assuredly see that he is jailed. Defeated in mind and body, Barry accepts. Barry, humiliated, hobbles on crutches to a carriage.

The narrator states that Barry went first back to Ireland with his mother, then once he was fully recovered, he traveled to the European continent to resume his former profession as a gambler (though without his former success). Barry kept his word and never returned to England or ever saw Lady Lyndon again. The final scene (set in December 1789) shows a middle-aged Lady Lyndon signing Barry's annuity cheque as her son looks on.


    It was in the reign of George III that the aforesaid personages lived and quarrelled; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now.


Unknown said...

Dose Lord Bullingdon have a first name?

Antti Alanen said...

He certainly has, but neither Stanley Kubrick nor William Makepeace Thackeray report what it is.