Stanley Kubrick - Barry Lyndon (1975)

[barry lyndon] Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon conveys an impression of cold, removed precision through cinematographic and editing techniques as well as a narrative symmetry ('s got a diptych for a plot). Visually Lyndon is comprised of, by and large, long shot long takes, with only the occasional close-up cut-in, held briefly and often surrounding itself with an aura of out-of-placeness. While this could simply be said to work in the traditional manner of costume and location pieces (i.e., to capture the beauty of the German palaces or the Irish country side), when coupled with the oft-rejected in-lens zooms, what is established is a similitude to nature documentary, more than period narratives. The breadth of the mis-en-scène serves to diminish the status of the characters within it, hence to objectify the audience's viewpoint.

The symmetry of narrative is also punctuated by technique. Lady Lyndon falls for Barry not surrounded by the bleeding, clipped highlights of Barry and Nora's affair (a cinematic staple for conveying love and ethereality), but with the same "proper" exposure as the bulk of the film, the same soundtrack music (Schubert's Piano Trio in E Flat) as at the inn when Barry loses his leg (signifying not love, but foreshadowing the imminent loss of husband). Barry's first major peripety, which sets him on his way to wealth, and his last, which takes him from it forever, are both duels set to tympanum music.

As Barry's allegiance, being true only to himself, changes, so does the audience's, being only true to itself, that is, the camera. Form overrides association, photographic composition and aesthetic impression bearing more relevance than characterization or the infliction of catharsis.

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