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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Barry Lyndon [Blu-ray]

 

(Stanley Kubrick, 1975)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Warner

Video: Warner Home Video / Criterion Collection (2-disc) - Spine # 897

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! / Region 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 3:05:03.175 / 3:05:12.726

Disc Size: 39,322,799,215 bytes / 49,976,732,531 bytes

Feature Size: 38,905,657,344 bytes / 49,199,622,144 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.92 Mbps / 27.19 Mbps

Chapters: 47 / 30

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 31st, 2011 / October 17th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 / 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2086 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2086 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio German 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB

 

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4051 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4051 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, none

 

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

Trailer (2:09 in 480i)

 

Making Barry Lyndon: new documentary featuring cast and crew interviews as well as audio excerpts from a 1976 interview with director Stanley Kubrick (37:52)
Achieving Perfection: 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 (15:32)
Drama in Detail: new program featuring historian Christopher Frayling on Academy Award–winning production designer Ken Adam (13:34)
Timing and Tension: New interview with editor Tony Lawson (13:50)
On the Costumes: French television interview from 1976 with Ulla-Britt Söderlund, who codesigned the film’s Oscar-winning costumes (5:00)
Passion and Reason: New interview with critic Michel Ciment (17:35)
Balancing Every Sound: new interview with actor Leon Vitali about the 5.1 surround soundtrack, which he cosupervised (10:13)
A Cinematic Canvas: new piece analyzing the fine-art-inspired aesthetics of the film with curator Adam Eaker (15:04)
Two trailers (4:07, 2:09)
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

 

Bitrate:

 

1) Warner - Region FREE- Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Description: How does an Irish lad without prospects become part of 18th-century English nobility? For Barry Lyndon (Ryan O’Neal) the answer is: any way he can! His climb to wealth and privilege is the enthralling focus of this sumptuous Stanley Kubrick version of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel. For this ravishing, slyly satiric winner of 4 Academy Awards, Kubrick found inspiration in the works of the era’s painters. Costumes and sets were crafted in the era’s designs and pioneering lenses were developed to shoot interiors and exteriors in natural light. The result is a cutting-edge movie bringing a historical period to vivid screen life like no other film before or since.

***

Stanley Kubrick bent the conventions of the historical drama to his own will in this dazzling vision of a pitiless aristocracy, adapted from a novel by William Makepeace Thackeray. In picaresque detail, Barry Lyndon chronicles the adventures of an incorrigible trickster (Ryan O’Neal) whose opportunism takes him from an Irish farm to the battlefields of the Seven Years’ War and the parlors of high society. For the most sumptuously crafted film of his career, Kubrick recreated the decadent surfaces and intricate social codes of the period, evoking the light and texture of eighteenth-century painting with the help of pioneering cinematographic techniques and lavish costume and production design, all of which earned Academy Awards. The result is a masterpiece—a sardonic, devastating portrait of a vanishing world whose opulence conceals the moral vacancy at its heart.

 

 

The Film:

As with all Kubrick films, the performances here are meticulous and precise with Kubrick making good use of his repertory of character actors (Patrick Magee, Leonard Rossiter, Philip Stone) with memorable turns by Marie Kean (Barry's mother), Hardy Kruger (Captain Potzdorf) and Leon Vitali (Lord Bullingdon). There has been some disappointment expressed over the casting of Ryan O'Neal as Barry, an opinion I do not agree with.

Kubrick often cast his films based on an actor's personality, rather than their ability to play varied roles. Think of Nicholson, Sellers, Duvall, Ermey and others, all portraying variations of their own persona. The character of Barry Lyndon is somewhat similar to a Rorschach ink blot (naive? calculated? opportunist? victim? pawn?). Who better to portray the blank-page character of Barry Lyndon than Ryan O'Neal, a likeable if somewhat bland actor. O'Neal is perfect in the role and I find it hard to imagine someone else as Barry Lyndon.

The film was lukewarmly received on its December 1975 premiere, however it did find itself on many Top 10 lists and was nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. The film has never quite been given the adoration that other Kubrick films receive, no doubt due to the subject matter, time period and length of the film. Unfortunate, as this is one of Kubrick's very best.

Excerpt from Bill McAlpine review for DVDBeaver located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Barry Lyndon looks decent on Blu-ray from Warner. Film textures remain uninterrupted, colors are bright and the natural lighting seems finally at ease in digital thanks to 1080P. From Wikipedia: "Kubrick's express desire was to avoid electric lighting where possible, most shots were achieved with conventional lenses and lighting, but were lit to deliberately mimic natural light rather than for compositional reasons. In addition to potentially seeming more realistic, these methods also gave a particular period look to the film which has often been likened to 18th century paintings..." SD was problematic with this title but Blu-ray has 'turned the corner' returning the visuals to the painterly luster of their theatrical roots. This is dual-layered with a modest bitrate for the over 3-hour film framed for this release in 1.78:1.

 

The Criterion is advertised as a "New 4K digital restoration". They have, intelligently, put the 3-hour film on one dual-layered Blu-ray and the substantial extras on a second. It give the 1080P presentation a higher bitrate. Criterion have also transferred the film at 1.66:1 - which, for fans, is far more preferred than the bastardized 1.78:1 of the Warner. We don't seem to lose any information and gain on top and even more on the bottom  of the frame. It shows grain but most notably colors (red) become richer and deeper. The new HD is brighter and ha superior detail. It looks beautiful in-motion. This Blu-ray is far closer to how Barry Lyndon looked theatrically. Kubrick fans should rejoice at this image quality. It's magificent.      

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

1) Warner - Region FREE- Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Warner - Region FREE- Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Warner - Region FREE- Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Warner - Region FREE- Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Warner - Region FREE- Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Warner - Region FREE- Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Warner - Region FREE- Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Warner - Region FREE- Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Warner - Region FREE- Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Warner - Region FREE- Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Warner - Region FREE- Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Audio :

Warner have used a DTS-HD 5.1 at 2086 kbps (bump) for the original English track and a number of standard Dolby DUBs are included. There is some aggression (cracking gunfire) and subtleness. Kubrick was a big fan of classical music, and the film score utilizes pieces by Bach (Concerto for violin and oboe in C minor), Vivaldi (Cello Concerto in E-Minor, a transcription of the Cello Sonata in E Minor RV 40), Mozart, Schubert and more. It sounds very pleasing - there is some depth and minimal range - but the uncompressed track supports the film with perfect grace. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Criterion give the option of an authentic linear PCM 1.0 mono track (24-bit) - finally! - or a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround bump at a whopping 4051 kpbs. It was so important to give the choice and purists will select the mono - which is flat but carries some buoyancy. The surround has some formidable intensity in the aggression - battle sequence etc. Both uncompressed tracks sound excellent in supporting their intentions for watching the film. Criterion include optional English (SDH) subtitles and their Blu-ray disc is Region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

Like Lolita - nothing but a trailer. It runs 2:09 in 480i.

 

All the digital supplements are on a second Blu-ray. Making Barry Lyndon is a 2017 documentary, produced by Criterion featuring cast and crew interviews (Jan Harlan, Brian Cook, Michael Stevenson, Dominic Savage, Leon Vitali) as well as audio excerpts from a 1976 interview with director Stanley Kubrick. It runs 38-minutes and is quite interesting. Achieving Perfection is another new Criterion-produced 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 detailing the technological artistic achievements behind the film's cinematography. It runs 1/4 hour. Drama in Detail is also a 2017 Criterion piece and runs 14-minutes. It is about Oscar winning production designer Ken Adam featuring historian Christopher Frayling who wrote Ken Adam: the Art of Production Design. Timing and Tension is a new, 14-minute, interview with editor Tony Lawson discussing Barry Lyndon. On the Costumes is a 5-minute segment from a French television interview from September 9th, 1976, broadcast of Les rendez-vous du dimanche with Ulla-Britt Söderlund, who co-designed the film’s Oscar-winning costumes and discusses her work with the film's lead costume designer, Milene Canonero. Passion and Reason is an 18-minute interview with critic Michel Ciment (Kubrick the Definitive Edition) discussing Barry Lyndon. Balancing Every Sound is another new interview - this time spending 10-minutes with actor Leon Vitali about the original monaural audio work and the 5.1 surround remix of the soundtrack, which he co-supervised in 2000. A Cinematic Canvas is a 1/4 hour piece analyzing the fine-art-inspired aesthetics of the film with curator Adam Eaker (Metropolitan Museum of Art) discussing the fine art that inspired the visuals of Barry Lyndon, particularly the film's evocation of eighteenth-century paintings. There are two trailers plus the package has a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien and two pieces about the look of the film from the March 1976 issue of American Cinematographer.

 

Warner - Region FREE- Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray 2

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Cited by Martin Scorsese as being his favorite Kubrick film - Barry Lyndon has an immense amount to appreciate. There is abundance of beauty just from a purely cinematic viewpoint. The Blu-ray format has benefitted the presentation extremely well. I would have liked some extras but it is what it is - and we still recommend!

 

Imagine having all the Kubrick films on Blu-ray - at this high level? What more can be said about this overwhelming Blu-ray package?... Criterion have made this an exceptional gem - as good a single-disc 180P presentation as we are ever likely to see - dual audio options and a stacked 2nd Blu-ray of supplement features. Brilliant, nay vital, stuff.. and this gets our highest recommendation! Should be one of the top contenders for our year-end poll...  

Gary Tooze

May 24th, 2011

September 19th, 2017




 

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