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SCOUNDREL'S EPIC OF STANLEY KUBRICK'S CLASSIC 'BARRY LYNDON'

Title: BARRY LYNDON Year: 1975 Rating: ****1/2

In the mid-to-late 1700's Europe, by the time Ryan O'Neal's BARRY LYNDON has fled from his small hometown village in Ireland... then becomes a soldier at war and then a war-deserter and then a captured-deserter throughout several countries... ninety-minutes have passed... 

Which is the length of an average film, and with so much literal ground covered, director Stanley Kubrick provides more an episodic journey than adventure since every location is its own thematic vignette with a beginning, middle and end...

Kubrick alumni Leon Rossiter and Godfrey Quigley in BARRY LYNDON

Where in each, O'Neal's Barry... surrounded by picturesque landscapes intended as visual portrait/paintings framing each gorgeous, self-lighted interior and exterior shot... has to find a way to get his way, from selfish, boyish determination to keep the cousin he's smitten with unmarried... 

Perhaps the most engaging sequence, involving her would-be military finance Leonard Rossiter (the 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY waiting-room Russian), providing a perfectly passive, cowardly counterbalance to O'Neal's intrepid Lyndon, whose last name's originally Redmond...

Ryan O'Neal and Marisa Berenson in BARRY LYNDON

Changed to Lyndon after marrying rich widow Marisa Berenson as Lady Honoria Lyndon, and, while several characters evoke the desperation in O'Neal's character... from a highwayman horse-thief to winning a boxing match with a much larger soldier... she brings out the outright scoundrel... 

Underlined by her only son's hatred while turning Barry's otherwise initially victimized hero into a flawed anti-hero (where a road-ruse sequence involving Prussian captain Hardy Krüger is a standout)... and, ultimately, BARRY LYNDON becomes one of the most vile, unlikable villains in cinema history...

Three-time Kubrick actor Philip Stone listens to vengeful Leon Vitali in BARRY LYNDON

Something only a severe and uncompromising Ryan O'Neal could pull off so naturally, and without becoming a likeable rogue to keep the audience invested: especially during the heightened struggle with his vengeful stepson, now a teenager played by naive yet intense Leon Vitale... 

Who, almost three-hours in, finally provides the movie a hero in what's actually an anti-epic epic, ironically centered on an impudent title character hardly worth the time, which is the point all along and the kind of grand cinematic punchline even the biggest Kubrick fanatics initially missed: and why O'Neal's performance is far too often overlooked.

Ryan O'Neal in BARRY LYNDON
Ryan O'Neal in BARRY LYNDON with Hardy Krüger
Ryan O'Neal in BARRY LYNDON
Leon Vitale in BARRY LYNDON
Stanley Kubrick's BARRY LYNDON
Ryan O'Neal in BARRY LYNDON with Gay Hamilton
Pat Laffan as Barry's cousin in BARRY LYNDON
Ryan O'Neal in BARRY LYNDON with Godfrey Quigley
John Bindon in BARRY LYNDON
Ryan O'Neal in BARRY LYNDON
Gay Hamilton (Barry's cousin) and Leonard Rossiter in BARRY LYNDON
Barry's mother Marie Kean with Ryan O'Neal in BARRY LYNDON
End Duel with Leon Vitale and Ryan O'Neal in BARRY LYNDON
Leon Vitale with Marisa Berenson and Ryan O'Neal in BARRY LYNDON with Vivian Kubrick

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