Barry Lyndon 40th anniversary: behind the scenes with Stanley Kubrick

These rare production shots show master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick on location for the battlefield sequences of his 18th-century odyssey Barry Lyndon, which was released 40 years ago.

Samuel Wigley
Updated:

Ryan O’Neal as the 18th-century adventurer Barry Lyndon in Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 adaptation of the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray

Ryan O’Neal as the 18th-century adventurer Barry Lyndon in Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 adaptation of the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray

Kubrick, O’Neal and other cast on location in Ireland

Kubrick, O’Neal and other cast on location in Ireland

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Stanley Kubrick on location during production of Barry Lyndon (1975)

Barry Lyndon (1975): Stanley Kubrick on location

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Director Stanley Kubrick on location during production of Barry Lyndon (1975)

Released on 18 December 1975, Stanley Kubrick’s 10th feature, Barry Lyndon, is an exquisitely detailed adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel about the picaresque exploits of an 18th-century Irish adventurer.

Set at the time of the Seven Years War, its production followed the collapse of Kubrick’s long-gestating Napoleon project. Famed for his perfectionism, the director went to extraordinary lengths to research and recreate the look of the period, taking inspiration from the era’s great visual stylists, painters such as Thomas Gainsborough and William Hogarth.

Determined to film by natural or historically accurate light sources, Kubrick and his cinematographer John Alcott acquired super-fast lenses to capture scenes lit only by candles. The pristine, painterly look of the finished film was decried by some critics, who found the amoral escapades of the title character (Ryan O’Neal) emotionally uninvolving. Barry Lyndon’s reputation has soared in the years since. In the 2012 Sight & Sound poll of critics, it was voted the 59th best film ever made.

Read more

Back to the top

See something different

Subscribe now for exclusive offers and the best of cinema.
Hand-picked.