This Stanley Kubrick masterpiece is on an extended run at BFI Southbank.
Geoff Andrew (BFI programmer-at-large) introduction:
With its meticulous historical accuracy and its astonishing visual beauty, Kubrick’s most underrated work is also probably his greatest. Deriving its story and characters (but not its tonal delicacy) from Thackeray’s comic novel about an 18th-century rake, the film deploys a stately pace to chart the rise and fall of Redmond Barry (O’Neal) as he flees Ireland, travels Europe and eventually seduces his way into the English aristocracy. Expertly combining caricature with actorly restraint while creating immaculate painterly tableaux with natural light or candles, Kubrick creates a world that feels ineffably strange yet utterly real. As he quietly castigates not the conniving protagonist but the hypocritical, complacent society he determines to join, the mood steadily shifts from irony to melancholy and, finally, tragedy.
Chicago Reader review:
All of Stanley Kubrick's features look better now than when they were first released, but Barry Lyndon, which fared poorly at the box office in 1975, remains his most underrated. It may also be his greatest. This personal, idiosyncratic, melancholy, and long (three hours) adaptation of the Thackeray novel is exquisitely shot in natural light (or, in night scenes, candlelight) by John Alcott, with frequent use of slow backward zooms that distance us, both historically and emotionally, from its rambling picaresque narrative about an 18th-century Irish upstart (Ryan O'Neal). Despite its ponderous, funereal moods and pacing, the film is a highly accomplished piece of storytelling, building to one of the most suspenseful duels ever staged. It also repays close attention as a complex and fascinating historical meditation, as enigmatic in its way as 2001: A Space Odyssey. With Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Kruger, and Leonard Rossiter; narrated by Michael Hordern.
Here (and above) is the trailer.