Ulla-Britt Soderlund and Milena Canonero, Barry Lyndon's costume designers, won an Oscar for Best Costumes for their work on the film. Probably my favorite Stanley Kubrick movie, Barry Lyndon is one of the most gorgeous-ever films to watch. I'm still not sure it's a great movie, but it's beautifully done and the costumes are just one example. The detail work is astounding and I'm always amazed that the costumes, hair and make-up actually manage to not look too much like the 1970s. Barry Lyndon has aged well!
Based on the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, Barry Lyndon tells the story of one man's rise in society and subsequent fall. It has its moments of dark humor, which I enjoy very much, but I'm always left wondering if three hours is a bit too much?
I've decided to focus on a few of the ladies in the film, just to keep this post from being any more ridiculously photo-heavy. Also, Ryan O'Neal spends most of the first act in regimentals.
Irishman Redmond Barry's first love is his cousin, Nora (Gay Hamilton). Check out the exquisite lace detail on the gowns both above and below.
Unfortunately, an English soldier proposes to Nora and she accepts!
Redmond Barry fights a duel with the Englishman and has to flee to Dublin. He eventually ends up in the British army fighting in the Seven Years War, which takes him to Germany, where he spends a few days with pretty peasant Lieschen. Unlike Nora, Lieschen (Diana Körner) has only one dress, which is of rougher material and lacks the decorative touches of Nora's wardrobe. While not wealthy, Nora's family is of the landed class; Lieschen has to do farm work, so pretty lace would not be practical!
Eventually escaping his life in the army Redmond becomes a professional gambler and starts meeting aristocratic types across Europe. Unlike Nora and Lieschen, both fresh-faced, the women Redmond meets now are powdered, patched, bewigged and dressed to kill. The men are, too!
Redmond meets Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson), who is very wealthy, but has a husband who refuses (at least for a while) to die. Here are her costumes in Act I:
Sir Charles Lyndon is conveniently removed from the picture, so Redmond Barry and Lady Lyndon can get married--Redmond changes his name to "Barry Lyndon." In the second act, we see that Lady Lyndon's clothes are in transition from the 1770s to the 1780s--hats get bigger, wigs get wider and waists get higher.
Finally a few screen captures of Lady Lyndon en déshabille:
Because some Irish food would go pretty well with Barry Lyndon, here are some of my favorite Irish recipes. Just click on each image to go to the related recipe. (You may need to turn off any pop-up blockers.)