Barry Lyndon
March 1, 2008 12:16 PM   Subscribe

10 minute documentary describing the cameras and directorial techniques Kubrick used to create his masterpiece.
posted by vronsky (29 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Each of these scenes, has at one time or another, made the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention, and for me, there is no higher praise.
posted by vronsky at 12:21 PM on March 1, 2008

I know I say this every time, but Youtube is not the format one wants to demonstrate the genius cinematography. The use of focus and lighting is all but completely distroyed by necessary shitty compression. Especially with Barry Lyndon.

I know people who watch entire movies from similar streaming sites and the filmgeek in me screams out in pain.
posted by slimepuppy at 12:40 PM on March 1, 2008

I hear you slimepuppy, but each of those clips is better quality than the usual uTube -- even full screen.

I bought the dvd version of BL when it first came out and there were some real problems with the transfer there too. I was surprised his estate would let it come out like that.
posted by vronsky at 12:46 PM on March 1, 2008

Wonderful, vronsky, thanks. The sum total of my understanding of Barry Lyndon is derived from glances at my father's Playboys in the seventies, in which the movie was presented as a daring nude-fest (with typical Playboy stupidity). I need to see this movie.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 12:47 PM on March 1, 2008

I would love to see some scans of those Turtles! Marisa Berenson is definitely a world class beauty.
posted by vronsky at 1:29 PM on March 1, 2008

Absolutely fantastic film. This post makes me want to watch it right now.
posted by joshjs at 1:33 PM on March 1, 2008

I went through each of Kubrick's films in high school, thanks to the non-print resource center at Smith College. Barry Lyndon blew me away in a number of ways, not the least of which was how it could destroy the entire time I had between the end of school and dinner.

It's an awesome thing to not feel the hand (eye, what-have-you) manipulating your emotions, but you know you've been somehow touched.

Kubrick touched me. There, I said it.

and as far as his estate goes, I couldn't believe they allowed Eyes Wide Shut to be released. how they didn't rescind the Kubrick name from A.I. is also beyond me.

BL is now far higher in my netflix queue.
posted by Busithoth at 1:50 PM on March 1, 2008

I love how Martin Scorsese turns into a such a geek fanboy when he's talking about Kubrick. I'm sure that this Charley Rose interview with Scorsese and Kubrick's widow and brother-in-law has been posted before but it's worth linking to again.
posted by octothorpe at 1:54 PM on March 1, 2008 [2 favorites]

One thing I've always wondered: in the "Love Scene" clip (linked above) on the balcony when O'Neal takes Berenson's hand, the second he does that, a small breeze begins to blow on the ostrich feathers in her hat, towards him. Was that meant to happen, or was that just synchronicity? Either way, it subtly underlines the scene, for me.
posted by Zack_Replica at 2:06 PM on March 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

I can't imagine shooting scenes wide open at f .7. That in itself is mind blowing.
posted by photoslob at 2:26 PM on March 1, 2008

I've requested BL from the library--never heard of it before this FPP. I think I either love or hate all I've seen of Kubrick... I hated Eyes Wide Shut. I loved Dr. Strangelove, Clockwork Orange (saw it when I was 11 -- whoops!), The Shining (wouldn't watch it until I was 20). Loved 2001 until the end, which I absolutely hated. (I should read the book, eh? There's not twenty pages at the end of "Wow, cool, wow, cool, bbbzzzhhhh, ooooh, it's like a laser show," is there?)

This better not suck, vronsky!! thanks!
posted by not_on_display at 2:28 PM on March 1, 2008

More info on the Zeiss 50mm f.7 lens used to film BL.

I occasionally shoot with a 50 f1.2 and getting 2 frames in a row in focus is a challenge let alone 24 fps.
posted by photoslob at 2:31 PM on March 1, 2008

From whence comes this documentary clip? Is the complete movie available for rental or purchase?
posted by Clay201 at 2:56 PM on March 1, 2008

Thanks for that detailed link on the f .7 lens, photoslob. Incredible.

I've shot still/photo 35mm TTL/SLR at around 1.0 or 1.5 at the most, I think, and with smaller lenses or zooms - and probably much, much faster film. Most SLR shooting happens at f.3 and up, anyway, what with the nice lenses and fast film or digital shooting.

Focus is damn near impossible, even on static, framed, tripod shots all nicely locked down and with a totally static object, like, say, a rock, or a landscape. I remember having to fiddle a lot with the focus ring, as it was a bit old and was binding a bit - so that annoying thing happens where you're maybe trying to get a fraction of a millimeter in movement on the ring and the "sticktion-and-release" mechanical action keeps helping you overshoot the desired focus in either direction.

I can't imagine trying to do this on a motion film camera. Everything moves, including the camera.
posted by loquacious at 2:57 PM on March 1, 2008

Wait. Is it Stanley Kubrick: A Life In Pictures, the doc discussed in the Charlie Rose interviews?
posted by Clay201 at 2:58 PM on March 1, 2008

More, there'd almost be no frickin' way to viewfinder that shot through-the-lens for that kind of shot to focus by eye. Your viewfinder would probably be so dark that manual focus would be impossible. I've shot stills in candlelight on 35mm film. It's not easy to do well, even for stills.

I'm not a filmmaker, but I would imagine that shooting like this took some fairly complex math and measurements, even if it was "I did it in my head" or ballpark calculations.
posted by loquacious at 3:05 PM on March 1, 2008

I think the focus puller alone for those shots, especially the tracking scenes with the characters walking opposite the path of the camera, deserve a freaking platinum oscar.

Also, if you want to watch more insane technical skills, watch the special features on the criterion dvd of Yojimbo. The under the floorboards scene required the focus puller to *memorize the shots* and then pull focus blind, using wires controlled by his hands and one foot, since he couldn't fit underneath the floorboards with the camera at the same time.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:10 PM on March 1, 2008 [4 favorites]

Your comment jiggled loose an old memory of mine Turtles. I was first turned on to Barry Lyndon and A Clockwork Orange through reading my older sister's (huge) collection of old Mad magazines. I think they called BL - Boring Lyndon or something and most of the jokes were about its glacial pace. And I have a very clear memory of them riffing on the rape scene in CO. (mst3k style) a: can you believe they showed this on film? b: what? the rape scene? a: no... the smile on the woman's face while it was happening! (which while disturbing is definitely in there if you watch the film.) It's probably on uTube but I ain't linking it.

That fucked with my young brain.
posted by vronsky at 3:22 PM on March 1, 2008

I adore Barry Lyndon, and I thank you for posting this.
posted by dhammond at 3:40 PM on March 1, 2008

Oh yes. Thanks vronsky. Kubrick is god, and it's always great to learn more about him and how he worked.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:45 PM on March 1, 2008

Its interesting that out of all Kubrick's work, the film that sold out immediately during the recent Barbican retrospective was Lyndon....
posted by Mintyblonde at 5:13 PM on March 1, 2008

Quicksilver screen has the video A Life In Pictures
posted by hortense at 5:26 PM on March 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Fun film geek factoid: Wes Anderson cribbed the kissing scene for Rushmore.

Barry Lyndon is easily the most underrated of Kubrick's films. The film's look and tone were highly innovative. And it's a damn pity that contemporary filmmakers don't have the dogged iconoclastic sensibilities that Kubrick did to get at the emotional crux of a historical epoch. (I'm looking at you, Sofia Coppola.)
posted by ed at 8:21 PM on March 1, 2008

I know people who watch entire movies from similar streaming sites and the filmgeek in me screams out in pain.

Fuckin' A yes. Makes me scream too.
posted by filmgeek at 8:32 PM on March 1, 2008

Says a lot about Kubrick that you wrote "his masterpiece" and I had to click the "more inside" link to figure out which masterpiece in particular you meant.
posted by roombythelake at 9:08 PM on March 1, 2008

Barry Lyndon is easily the most underrated of Kubrick's films.

Sad, but true.
Overlooked...but easily in competition as being his best.
This is an exceptional film. Every time I see even the briefest clip from it, it makes me dearly wish Kubrick had done more on-location work in the open landscape.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:42 AM on March 2, 2008

I watched Barry Lyndon when I bought the Kubrick box set. It was the only film of the collection I'd never heard of. It was a good movie, though I don't know if I'd say I found it entertaining. The impression I remember most vividly was, "Wow, this looks a lot like Highlander." And I'm sure that without Lyndon, there would never have been a Highlander movie.

I feel like this post gave me a better context for appreciating Barry Lyndon. I think I'm going to watch it again tonight!
posted by Eideteker at 2:33 PM on March 2, 2008

You know, I had a college class where we watched what I thought was all of Kubrick's films and I am not familiar with Barry Lyndon. And didn't Kubrick do Spartacus too? Our prof felt that one was one Kubrick wished he could have back so we didn't watch it either. The films were all definitely amazing, but the overt misogyny definitely made us feminists in the room squeamish.
posted by CwgrlUp at 6:38 PM on March 2, 2008

I can't find the Borey Lyndon scans but here is A Crockwork Lemon.
posted by vronsky at 5:32 PM on March 3, 2008

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