Irish Eye on Hollywood:
Barry Lyndon Joins the Criterion Collection

Ryan O'Neal in Barry Lyndon (Photo: Criterion Collection)

By Tom Deignan, Contributor
December / January 2018

In the annals of classic Irish films, Barry Lyndon holds a strange spot. It has impeccable credentials: the stars include Irish American, Ryan O’Neal, (best known for Love Story, What’s Up, Doc?, and Paper Moon, also featuring his daughter Tatum) and Armagh native Patrick Magee. There’s also good source material – the novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon, by William Thackeray. The 1975 film was also directed by the great Stanley Kubrick. Barry Lyndon was the film he chose to make after classics such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange. For all of this, however, Barry Lyndon is rarely placed in the same category as Irish classics from The Quiet Man to Michael Collins. The folks over at the Criterion Collection are looking to change that, with a new Blu-ray restoration of the film. The Atlantic recently lauded this new release, adding: “The 18th-century high society (Kubrick) depicts is just as unsettling as the austere spaceships of 2001 and the violent dystopia of A Clockwork Orange.”

Barry Lyndon revolves around the title character (O’Neal), who journies from an Irish farm to military glory, before aiming for marriage and a position amongst the elite. The new Criterion release is packed with extra goodies. Not only has the film been digitally restored, there is also a new documentary featuring interviews with the film’s cast and crew, as well as excerpts from a 1976 interview with the famously-reclusive director. For hard-core film nerds there is a slew of material with the film’s tech crew, including cinematographer John Alcott, editor Tony Lawson and even a 1976 interview with Ulla-Britt Söderlund, who co-designed the film’s Oscar-winning costumes. All of this is wrapped up nicely with an essay by Irish American critic Geoffrey O’Brien. ♦

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