The Genius of Barry Lyndon

Factual and Theoretical Approaches to Kubrick’s Masterpiece


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About the Book

One of the most visually compelling films ever made, Barry Lyndon can—and should, argues the author—be seen as Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece. This comprehensive analysis examines such topics as the unique way in which Kubrick photographed the film, Kubrick’s subtle understanding of cinematic storytelling, the deliberate upturning of generic expectation, and the eclectic use of music. It also provides a more rigorous reading of the film from a diverse range of theoretical approaches: structuralist, feminist, psychoanalytical, Marxist and postcolonial readings.

About the Author(s)

Patrick Webster is a musician, writer and university lecturer. A graduate and postgraduate of the University of Leeds, he has written on subjects including the films of Stanley Kubrick, the songs of Bob Dylan, the television drama, The West Wing</>, as well as other issues such as ecology and dyslexia. He lives in Leeds, in the North of England.

Bibliographic Details

Patrick Webster
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 284
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8997-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5087-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I: By What Means Stanley Kubrick Acquired the Way to Make the Film Barry Lyndon 7

1. How Did They Make a Film Like Barry Lyndon? The Making of the Film: The Initial Screenplay, Budgets, Locations, Cast and Crew, Academy Awards, Artistic Legacy, and Other Diverse Concerns 8

2. “Don’t touch that, it’s a very important work of art!” The Critics Respond to the Film 20

3. “Tragical-historical, tragical-comical, historical-pastoral”: The Use of Genre in Barry Lyndon 35

4. Barry Lyndon as Palimpsest: The Influence of the Film’s Unmade Precursor—A Masterpiece Unsigned 44

5. A Dreamer of Pictures: The Visual Aesthetics of Barry Lyndon 53

6. The Age of Reason: The Eighteenth Century in the Work of Stanley Kubrick 64

7. Makepeace, Not War: The Adaptation of Thackeray’s Source Novel 74

8. Of Course, the Story Could Be Wrong: Reliable and Unreliable Narrators in Barry Lyndon 88

9. Grande Musicale: The Soundtrack of Barry Lyndon 99

Part II: Containing an Account of the Film Barry Lyndon from a Diverse Range of Theoretical Approaches 111

10. “This is one of my best pictures”: A Structuralist and Semiotic Reading of Barry Lyndon 112

11. “Women of Ireland”: A Feminist Reading of Barry Lyndon 135

12. “Gentlemen, cock your pistols”: A Psychoanalytical Reading of Barry Lyndon 148

13. “I’m a man of property”: Marxist and Postcolonial Readings of Barry Lyndon 166

Conclusion 182

Epilogue 191

Appendix I: A Timeline 193

Appendix II: The First Screenplay, February 18, 1973 196

Appendix III: Narrative Structure: Chapter by Chapter, Scene by Scene, Shot by Shot 204

Appendix IV: A Barry Lyndon Miscellany: Additions, Addendums, and Anecdotes 216
 Deleted Scenes 216
 Errors 217
 Uncredited Speaking Roles 218
 Child Actors 218
 Vivian Kubrick and Barry Lyndon 219 
 Tatum O’Neal and Barry Lyndon 219
 Locations 220
 Multiple Takes 221
 Barry Lyndon ­and Kubrick’s ­Twentieth-Century Novels 222
 Barry Lyndon’s Palimpsest—Napoleon—an Original Narrative Source 223
 Barry Lyndon Unmade/Napoleon Accomplished: An Alternate History 224
 Barry Lyndon—Kenneth Griffith—and The Man on the Rock 225
 Sexual Content 226
 Major and Minor Keys 226
 The Final Title Card: An Existentialist Reading 227
 Chess and Filmmaking 228
 Intertextual Felicities: Voyage of the Damned, Uncle Vanya, Heaven’s Gate, and Barry Lyndon 229
 Barry Lyndon and the 1964 US Presidential Campaign 230
 Conspiracy Theories: The JFK Assassination and Barry Lyndon 230
 “It’s What’s in the Frame!”: Kubrickian Studies and Barry Lyndon 231
 Kubrick and the Queen 232
 The IRA Revisited 233

Appendix V: Cast and Crew Credits 234

Chapter Notes 239

Bibliography 261

Index 267