Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Barry Lyndon (1975) Criterion Blu-Ray Release Today

Barry Lyndon (1975) might be the most argued about film in Stanley Kubrick's oeuvre. Some otherwise battle-tested and devoted Kubrick aficianados call it his worst film. Others, myself included, list it as his greatest masterpiece: the sum of Kubrick's extensive wisdom distilled into one, brutally powerful film experience.

The Criterion Collection's release of Barry Lyndon today on Blu-Ray is an affirmation of its artistic merit. And it is also currently the best presentation of the film yet on home video, based on a new 4K transfer of the negative. Stanley Kubrick's personal assistant, Leon Vitali, helped oversee the restoration efforts and the creation of a new 5.1 surround track and it shows. And as an added nugget of trivia, Leon Vitali co-stars in the film as Barry's stepson Lord Bullingdon.
I presented a newer and more improved trailer first, then directly above is the vintage theatrical trailer. The tonal differences between the marketing and the film itself were pretty extreme. I think the formality of the period portrayed in Barry Lyndon is sometimes confused as cold or distant, but it truly is Kubrick's most emotionally gripping movies, although a lot of it is in the subtext of the scenes. A little patience will go a long way in connecting to this masterpiece.

Disc Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray
  • New documentary featuring cast and crew interviews as well as audio excerpts from a 1976 interview with director Stanley Kubrick
  • New program about the film’s groundbreaking visuals, featuring focus puller Douglas Milsome and gaffer Lou Bogue as well as excerpts from a 1980 interview with cinematographer John Alcott
  • New program featuring historian Christopher Frayling on Academy Award–winning production designer Ken Adam
  • New interview with editor Tony Lawson
  • French television interview from 1976 with Ulla-Britt Söderlund, who codesigned the film’s Oscar-winning costumes
  • New interview with critic Michel Ciment
  • New interview with actor Leon Vitali about the 5.1 surround soundtrack, which he cosupervised
  • New piece analyzing the fine-art-inspired aesthetics of the film with curator Adam Eaker
  • Trailers
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien and two pieces about the look of the film from the March 1976 issue of American Cinematographer

Respected film critic Mark Kermode has a video review in which discusses Barry Lyndon, which I recommend checking out. He gives some interesting insights and commentary on this often overlooked film classic. I will have a lot more to say about this film in an upcoming book 44 Years of Stanley Kubrick.

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