chris shimojima.
filmmaker giving real life a different beat.


writer | director | editor

Barry Lyndon

The film is praised as one of the most beautifully photographed, using superfast NASA lenses that allowed Stanley Kubrick to shoot in candlelight. For me, it's Kubrick's masterpiece, where his formal compositions not only generate the detached irony which he's so great at, but actually "ironically" heighten the emotions of Barry's tragic story.

The narrator is wryly amusing. He sounds like he should be narrating "Nature" and commenting on animals in a foreign land. And it's because of this that we end up siding with Barry, wishing we could jump into the painterly-images, free him from them, comfort him in the way the narrator refuses to, and help him find the love and father figure he subconsciously needs.

Like the Age of Innocence, this is not just a period piece, but a tale of the individual vs. society for any time period. Barry starts metaphorically as a boy, learning he must move away from innocence, embodied by his humble and crude Irish upbringing. Barry learns to be a "man" in the misanthropic Kubrick sense of the word, and yet for everything he does, he ultimately cannot overcome his past and his true hotblooded character.  I want to address something similar in my film.

Kubrick's emotional nature can be seen in this clip. Not just in the candlelight and Lady Lyndon's heaving bosom and the steady glances between her and Barry, but in the Schubert Piano Trio, the theme of which Kubrick loops over and over -- more than Schubert had written -- just to squeeze all the juice out. The scene is real eroticism.