Starring: Ryan O’Neal, Marisa Berenson, Leon Vitali, Patrick Magee, Hardy Kruger, Marie Kean, Murray Melvin, Michael Hordern (narrator)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Summary: An Irish rogue cheats his way to the top of 18th-century British society
Other Nominations: Director, Adapted Screenplay, Costume Design*, Song Score*, Art Direction*, Cinematography*, Film Editing
-This is a film epic that feels very different than most in style and tells a really compelling rise and fall of a deeply flawed man whose life feels like a joke played on him by a cruel god who likes getting his hopes up before dashing them. I mentioned something similar in my review of A Clockwork Orange, but it’s even more pronounced here-despite the character himself not really changing or growing over the course of the movie, your attitude towards him changes a number of time, based mainly on the specific situation he’s in at the point in the story. In some ways, you could also say the same about Lord Bullingdon as a character, and in both cases it makes for an interesting story on an intellectual level (should I really be reacting this way right now?) Finally, the dual scene at the end is fantastic and easily some of the best direction Stanley Kubrick ever did.
-The score, all new orchestrations of classical music pieces, is one of the top 10 best from this project so far, especially the main theme (a version of Handel’s Sarabande) and the selections fit perfectly with the mood of every scene.
-Stanley Kubrick was legendary for his attention to detail, and it’s probably more obviously evident here than in any of his other films. The costumes and sets are gorgeous, the exteriors and countrysides were perfectly selected, and every single shot in the film looks fantastic, many of which were purposely done to reference various English paintings of the period. The movie is also famous for its lighting, where almost all light is natural-either filmed during the day with no added light, or by candlelight which required special camera lenses. It gives the film a distinctive look that’s hard to replicate.
-Kubrick got a lot out of a cast comprised mostly of relative unknowns, but the one that really stood out to me was Berenson. She has almost no dialogue in the film (despite being in the movie a lot), but her facial expressions convey this incredible sorrow and melancholy and you always know what she’s thinking.
-This is a long movie (just over 3 hours), and it’s not for everybody-it’s pretty audacious in just how cold and unemotional it is for the most part and how detached it feels from its characters.
I actually watched this film in January but I liked it enough the first time that I felt like watching it again 6 months later; this time, I think I liked it even more, since I could fully appreciate how great the visuals and score are since I already knew the story. This is Kubrick’s least popular film from his golden period (1957-1987) despite being his most awarded at the Oscars, yet it’s one of his best due to its narrative, visuals and score.