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Film / Barry Lyndon

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"It was in the reign of George III that the aforesaid personages lived and quarrelled; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now."note 

Barry Lyndon is Stanley Kubrick's 1975 period piece, widely considered one of his most underrated films. At 3 hours and 7 minutes, it's also Kubrick's second-longest film, just ten minutes shorter than Spartacus from 15 years prior. As the film is split into two distinct acts, though, it feels more like two movies packaged together than like a single, lengthy piece. Ideally, this work summary should be read while listening to George Frederic Handel's Sarabande.

Set over the second half of the 18th century, the film concerns the life of Irish peasant-turned-adventurer-turned-aristocrat Redmond Barry (Ryan O'Neal), who leaves his Irish home after his family con him into leaving alone his cousin with whom he is besotted. The film's first act is a Candide-esque chain-of-events story showing how he then goes on to be a British deserter of the Seven Years' War, a Prussian conscript, a spy, and then a travelling dandy. The second act, however, is far more downbeat and involves his quest to become an aristocrat, which eventually leads to tragedy as he spurns his beautiful but fragile wife and brings his stepson to hate him with a passion.


In addition to being a perennial favorite of Stanley Kubrick fans (who often tout it as one of his overlooked masterpieces), it's also widely loved by history buffs who often hold it up as one of the most historically accurate films about the 18th century ever made. This is largely due to its unapologetic use of Deliberate Values Dissonance in its depiction of the time period, opting for an immersive Warts and All depiction of European society in the 1700s that doesn't bother making its characters likeable or sympathetic by modern standards. It also doesn't hurt that it was filmed entirely on location, with several interior scenes notably lit entirely by candlelight—an innovative technique that required using special ultra-fast camera lenses originally developed for NASA.

The film is based on the 1844 novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray, the author of Vanity Fair. Along with The Last of the Mohicans, it has the distinction of being one of the few major Hollywood films ever produced about the Seven Years War.


This film provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Captain Feeny, who speaks politely while robbing travelers at gunpoint.
    Captain Feeney: And now, I'm afraid, we must get on to the more regrettable stage of our brief acquaintance.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Barry has to have the lower half of his left leg amputated after being shot there in the film's final duel.
  • All Are Equal in Death: The epilogue reads "It was in the reign of George III that the aforesaid personages lived and quarreled: good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now". See also the original novel.
  • All for Nothing: Barry's attempts to obtain a title have him ingratiating himself within the upper echelons of society as well as frivolously spending the Lyndon family's money to the point of financial ruin. Everything he's worked for goes out the window when he publicly assaults Lord Bullingdon in a fit of rage, an act that leaves him friendless and with no way of repaying his staggering debts.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • According to the narrator, Sir Charles Lyndon died in "Spa, Kingdom of Belgium", but Belgium was not an independent nation until 1830. At the time when the film is set, Spa belonged to Principality of Liège.
    • In the tavern scene with Captain Potzdorf, the soldiers at the other tables are singing a song whose lyrics were not written until 1845.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Barry becomes an arch nemesis stepdad to Lord Bullingdon.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: The Prussian army, as it is described by the narrator:
    At the close of the 7 Years War, the army, so renowned for its disciplined valor, was officered by native Prussians; but it was composed, for the most part, of men from the lowest levels of humanity, hired or stolen from almost every nation in Europe.
  • Art Imitates Art: The film was visually modelled on rococo paintings, especially Thomas Gainsborough and Antoine Watteau. The effect is gorgeous.
  • Awkwardly-Placed Bathtub: Lady Lyndon bathes in a clawfoot tub in the middle of a large room with no other furniture. It's a bathroom if there ever was one.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The film contains two, though they're relatively small scale in comparison to Kubrick's previous battle sequences. The first is a skirmish between Captain Grogan's company and a minor French rearguard force that the narrator notes was too insignificant to make it into the history books. It's still an absolute slaughter that leaves at least a few hundred dead, including Grogan. The second is a French assault on a Prussian held fort in which Barry wins great acclaim by saving Captain Potzdorf's life.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Lord Bullingdon (even though he's no more or less likable a character than Barry himself is) ends up a major antagonist and goes back to his household at the end looking to settle the score...and is generally incompetent, smug, and pathetic. Barry, an expert duelist lost in booze and despair, barely even takes the guy seriously. He has to fire his own gun at the ground during the climatic duel after Bullingdon misfires his own, (and cowers with zero dignity the entire time when he thinks Barry has him dead to rights) with the implication being either that Barry just wants the guy to put him out of his misery, or that as much as he hates Bullingdon and as much of a jerkass as Barry's turned out to be, he'd still never stoop so low as to shoot the defenseless son of his wife whose seething hatred for Barry is honestly justified. Bullingdon even screws that up in that, while he shoots Lyndon, the shot doesn't even end up being fatal.
  • Big Brother Bully: Lord Bullingdon barely tolerates his younger half-brother Bryan simply because he's his wicked stepfather's son. He spanks him for raising a ruckus over a pencil while he's trying to work and later uses him in creating a scene to humiliate both his mother and Barry.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Barry's mother. She is introduced as a sweet old lady who is devoted to caring for her son after her husband's death. Once she reappears in the second act, however, she treats Lady Lyndon and Lord Bullingdon ruthlessly in pursuing her ambitions for Barry.
  • Book Ends: The film begins with a pistol duel and effectively ends with one.
  • Chiaroscuro: The film is famous for its use of natural lightning (candles, lots of candles) during nighttime scenes, thus emulating the chiaroscuro painting technique.
  • Corporal Punishment: While Barry is serving in the Prussian Army, he witnesses corporal punishment. He later administers it himself upon his stepson, Lord Bullingdon, on two separate occasions.
  • Cry into Chest: Barry does this when Captain Grogan dies. He kisses him, and then collapses onto his chest, weeping. Justified, because the guy was probably the closest thing he had to a father figure.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The film itself, along with the narrator.
  • Deconstruction: Most period films of European settings before Kubrick, and after him as well (such as the films of Merchant-Ivory), tended to tell a Rose-Tinted Narrative of aristocrats living a life of sophistication and good manners. This was one of the first to show the ugly side of this period by emphasizing the strangeness of aristocratic social rituals as well as highlighting the ruthless class structure that they were intended to perpetuate. Kubrick moreover achieves this not by glorifying the struggle of his Social Climber hero against evil aristocrats, but instead showing that however much an outsider might be able to break in, he can easily be cast out with nothing to show for it.
  • Death Seeker: Barry could be seen as one towards the end of the film. During the climatic duel, Barry chooses to delope when he has his opponent, Lord Bullingdon, at his mercy. One possible interpretation is that he knew Bullingdon would wish to continue the duel and would kill Barry in turn, who has been driven to despair in the wake of his beloved son's passing. Unfortunately, it doesn't pan out that way.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Done with Lord Bullingdon, who looks down on his stepfather in part because he's an Irishman. At the time the film was set, Irish people were classified in Britain as nonwhite and were discriminated against in much the same way that black people were (right down to the disparaging comparisons to monkeys and apes).
  • Despair Event Horizon: Both Barry and Lady Lyndon cross this after Bryan's death. It's less obvious with Barry, but by the time Lord Bullingdon challenges him to a duel it becomes apparent just how little Barry truly cares anymore once he fires his gun into the ground after Bullingdon's gun misfires.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Played with. Barry loses his main squeeze Nora's affections to Captain Quinn, causing him to give up on love altogether. He ends up getting one of the most beautiful and high-status women around, but never truly loves or appreciates her since he'd already given up on such feelings when he lost Nora.
  • Digital Destruction: The film was expressly meant to be projected in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio, which was common in Europe but not in America. Kubrick even had notes packed with prints of the film urging American projectionists to make sure they got the 1.66:1 ratio right, or as close to it as they could. Naturally, the Warner Brothers Blu-ray is cropped to a 1.78:1 ratio instead, removing a noticeable amount of picture at the top and bottom of the image for the sake of filling a widescreen television (1.66:1 would produce small black bars at the sides of the screen). Luckily The Criterion Collection got a hold of this title and released a Blu-Ray that uses the correct 1.66:1 ratio in 2017.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • Lord Bullingdon challenges Barry to a duel with pistols, but is clearly out of his depth. The accidental discharge of his pistol means he is forced to stand and receive Barry's shot, which makes him physically sick with terror. Then, when Barry spares him by deloping, Bullingdon refuses the opportunity to consider the matter settled and wounds Barry with his next shot. Before the count of three.
    • Zig-zagged with Captain Quinn. He's clearly terrified throughout the entirety of his duel with Barry, visibly shivering with anxiety as they raise their pistols, in contrast to Barry's cold, steely glare. His terror is that much more egregious compared to Barry's courage considering Quinn knew they were firing blanks, whereas Barry was kept in the dark and genuinely believed he was facing death. Turns out he was just acting afraid to really sell it and make Barry think it was real.
  • Disturbed Doves: The climactic duel takes place in a barn with doves flying about. In a parallel to the general style of the film, they don't really interact with the combatants, but they are a noticeable presence nonetheless.
  • Driven to Suicide: Lady Lyndon tries to kill herself after Bryan's death. The experience is, while not fatal, pretty damn painful.
  • Duel to the Death: The very first shot of the film shows Barry's father dying in a duel. This establishes a motif throughout the film, though none of the three duels Barry gets himself into end in death.
  • Dull Surprise: Justified. Ryan O'Neal and Stanley Kubrick were panned at the American callowness used for Redmond Barry's portrayal, but that was entirely the point. O'Neal was playing an emotional person who was forced to have a Stiff Upper Lip and more or less failing.
  • Downer Ending: Barry ends up losing everything: his son is dead, he's lost a leg, he is separated from his wife, his fortune has been reduced to a meagre monthly allowance from Lady Lyndon, and if he ever sets foot in England again, Lord Bullingdon will see him thrown in debtor's prison. On the other hand, Barry is such a controversial character that a happy ending for him could arguably border on an Esoteric Happy Ending.
  • Epic Movie: A 3 hour period piece that tells the story of a man's whole life and features hundreds of extras as well as some of the most ludicrously detailed set and costume design in cinematic history. It fits this trope like a glove.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: For all of Barry's faults, he does love his son Bryan. It must run in the family as the same can be said of his mother towards him.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The Lyndons' accountant grows silently contemptuous of the peril Barry's splurging brings to his wife's coffers.
  • The Film of the Book: Adapted from the 1844 novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray.
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: Once Barry marries into money, he does not do a good job of keeping it.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The narrator has a whimsical tendency of predicting the outcome of the more suspenseful sequences in the movie, not to mention the end of the movie itself.
  • Freeze-Frame Ending: The film ends with a freeze-frame on Barry, after he's lost a duel and his whole life has been ruined due to his own selfishness.
  • Gold Digger:
    • Nora marries Captain Quinn largely for his income, with the approval and encouragement of her family.
    • Barry marries Lady Lyndon to gain her fortune and social status.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: Barry steals the messenger uniform that he uses to desert the British army from among the clothes of two gay men who are skinny dipping in a pond.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Barry versus the world. Barry does what he has to in order to survive, even resorting to very low methods when he has to and never against someone who could be considered evil. Maintained in the second act with the opportunistic Barry working against his step-son, a young man whose life he is effectively ruining but who is not much better in terms of good character.
  • Grief-Induced Split: Barry dotes on his son Bryan, gifting him the horse he wanted before he's old enough to properly manage it. Bryan's death from trying to tame a horse by himself causes Barry and his wife to go their separate ways.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Possibly, depending on how one interprets Barry's decision to delope during the final duel. Was his decision an attempt at redemption? If so, his reward for it was a bullet wound to the leg courtesy of Lord Bullingdon.
  • Hero Antagonist: Downplayed significantly with Lord Bullingdon. From a moral standpoint, one could easily argue that he is a lighter shade of grey when compared to Barry. At the same time, however, Bullingdon himself is a bigoted, cowardly, and narcissistic young man whose hatred of Barry derives as much from the latter's humble origins and Irish ancestry (note that the Irish were not considered white in the 18th-century) as much as him being a poor step-father.
  • The Highwayman: When he stops for a drink of water on his way to Dublin, Barry meets a certain Captain Feeny and his son. Shortly afterwards they surprise him with a stickup in the woods, relieving him of his horse, pistol, and purse.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: Barry in the original novel was loosely based on Andrew Robinson Stoney. While Barry slides from naif to rogue to sympathetic Villain Protagonist, he retains some humanity. Stoney was just a sadistic psychopath. Thackeray's novel on account of being narrated by Redmond Barry himself often implied this was true of his character as well, with the Footnote Fever reminding us constantly that he's an Unreliable Narrator. Kubrick however took a third-person approach and he largely does follow the narrative as related in the novel, with the Lemony Narrator pointing out by euphemisms some of the issues in what we see. As such the movie's Barry Lyndon is a nicer character than the book.
  • Hollywood Military Uniform: The British, French, and Prussian soldiers wear generic uniforms whose facings, turnbacks, and other details don't match any specific regiment from the 7 Years' War. Also, the French and Prussian regiments are shown flying flags belonging to completely different regiments (2 in the case of the French, 3 in the case of the Prussians).
  • Honor Before Reason: Barry delopes when Bullingdon misfires, giving his wretched opponent a second chance at life. This proves his undoing, as Bullingdon takes his second shot and hits his mark.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: At the beginning of the film, Barry, who's regularly described as being "just a boy", is quite hot-headed and infatuated with his cousin Nora, and is willing to fight a Duel to the Death with an English officer for her hand.
  • Hot-Blooded: Barry tends to be a risk taker, and will never back down from a fight if he's been insulted.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Averted. Barry is left handed and is able to soundly defeat multiple opponents using guns, swords, and even fists.
  • Interface Spoiler: The midpoint title card basically tells the viewer that Barry will lose everything.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Sir Charles Lyndon is a crass, vulgar old man, but his assessment of Barry's intentions regarding him and his wife is spot on.
    Charles: He wants to step into my shoes. He wants to step into my shoes! Is it not a pleasure, gentlemen, for me, as I’m drawing near the goal, to find my home such a happy one? My wife so fond of me, that she’s even now thinking of appointing a successor! Is it not a comfort to see her, like a prudent housewife, getting everything ready for her husband’s departure?!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Say what you will about Barry, but the man loves his son. It's hard to not feel sorry for him, then, when Bryan dies.
  • Join or Die: Captain Potzdorf puts Barry in front of a choice: be executed as a deserter, or join the Prussian army. He chooses the second.
  • Kissing Cousins: Barry's first love is his cousin Nora.
  • Kubrick Stare: Captain Quin pulls several during his duel with Barry.
  • Last Kiss: Barry and Captain Grogan, who asks for one, saying that it's the last time that Barry will ever see him. He's been shot.
  • Leave the Camera Running: invoked Intentionally on Kubrick's part, as he wanted to make film tableauxs that resembled oil paintings of the era, such as the long shot of Lady Lyndon with her children draped over her.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: The Countess of Lyndon falls hard for Barry, and despite the many reasons he gives her to sour on him (cheating with the maids, squandering her fortune in the vain pursuit of a personal peerage, and warring with her eldest son), she reconciles herself to his every decadent whim.
  • Manly Tears: Barry cries FOUR TIMES during the film, which is a heck of a lot of crying for a male character in one movie. He cries when his friend Captain Grogan dies, when he meets another Irishman while in exile, when his son dies, and when his leg is cut off.
  • Master Swordsman: Barry is an expert sword duelist by the time he goes into business with the Chevalier de Balibari, which enables him to defend their honor against any gambler who (correctly) accuses them of cheating. Later he is shown teaching the basics to his son Bryan.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Captain Quinn plays the part of the dashing army captain in order to impress Nora, but when he actually faces Barry on the dueling ground he can't stop quaking in his boots. However, it turns out they were both shooting blanks, and Quinn was only feiging fear in order to convince Barry the duel was real.
  • Morality Pet: Barry dotes on his son, and the boy is arguably the only thing he genuinely cares for.
  • Nerves of Steel: For all his faults - and his desertion from the British army notwithstanding - Barry could never be accused of cowardice. Whereas each of his duels feature opponents nearly overcome with terror, Barry is able to face his mortal danger with a cold, unflinching, steely glare.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: The death of Grogan is the last time Barry ever loves anyone save his son, and he dies, too.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: After his nervous wreck of an opponent misfires, Barry delopes in kind. But Lord Bullingdon refuses to claim satisfaction and seizes a second, more successful chance to fell his hated foe.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: After Lord Bullingdon publicly dresses down both Barry and his own mother in front of a huge audience, Barry snaps and brutally attacks him. It takes almost a dozen men to pull Barry off of his stepson, and when they do Bullingdon is a bloodied, sobbing mess.
  • No Woman's Land: This was one of the few period films of its time, and times afterwards, that really put across how misogynist and sexist the aristocratic setting romanticized in earlier literary adaptations are. A society where the only careers available to women is marriage and children, is not healthy either for women, for children or for their spouses.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Barry realises that Captain Potzdorf has led him on and exposed him as a deserter.
    • Lord Bullingdon, when his pistol misfires. He retches, cries, and generally subverts the idea of the cool-headed righteous avenger, showing himself to be little more than a (justifiably) angry young man vastly out of his depth.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Ryan O'Neal's Irish accent for the role is generally unconvincing.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Redmond Barry loses his only trueborn son by Lady Lyndon to a horseriding accident when the boy wanders off to try to tame a horse by himself. This sends both Barry and his wife into a deep depression, while it also weakens his hold over Lady Lyndon's inheritance (Barry having married the beauteous widow for the money that she inherited from her late husband), opening himself up for challenge by his older stepson.
  • Parents as People: Barry, for all his many faults, loves his son dearly, and dotes on the boy, who is mostly a Cheerful Child outside of that one tantrum about his brother's pencil. Ultimately, Barry literally spoils the kid to death, buying him a horse before he's old enough to handle it because the boy begs him to, and leading to a horrible accident.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Barry goes through his life simply having things happen to him, such as being robbed, or being press-ganged, or having his child die. This makes him a Picaresque character which suited Thackeray since he saw The Luck of Barry Lyndon as an English take on the Spanish genre. Even his initial action, shooting an officer in a duel, turns out to have been a fake duel, planned all along by his friends. Despite his attempts to gain agency over his life, at the end of the movie, he's just as much a victim of fate as he was in the beginning.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Lord Bullingdon, who derides his hated stepfather's Irish ancestry.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Kubrick made many changes for his adaptation. The book is narrated from Barry Lyndon's first person perspective and Kubrick noted that the style of the book, with Thackeray's Footnote Fever generally got humour from pointing out how much Barry was an Unreliable Narrator. Kubrick felt that this was a literary device that wouldn't work in film but he added a third-person narrator who generally used euphemisms to undercut the story and pretensions of the characters. There are also more duels in the movie, indeed a running motif throughout the film which was missing in the book. The book was a serial picraresque story with a lot of Padding and Kubrick's film generally condenses the narration. The book's tone was also more openly satirical while Kubrick made it colder and drier in his retelling — though no less satirical.
  • Professional Gambler: Barry becomes one under the tutelage of the Chevalier de Balibari, and they win loads of money by cheating at cards wherever they go.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Barry starts out as a love-sick young man who keeps losing the people he cares about. From there he goes through life constantly getting the short end of the stick, learning to lie, steal, and cheat just to survive. Naturally his morals gradually erode over time. By the film's second act, Barry has become a ruthless con man, social climber, an unfaithful husband, and an abusive stepfather.
  • Protagonist Title: Barry Lyndon is named for its social-climbing protagonist.
  • The Quiet One: Despite having second billing, Lady Lyndon speaks only 13 lines of dialogue.
  • Rags to Riches: Redmond Barry, Irish commoner, ends up a rich English nobleman married to beautiful woman. Then subverted: Barry dies "poor and childless" as prophesied by the narration.
  • Really Gets Around: The war widow Barry meets is played as a romantic encounter, but the narrator states in the most dignified way that the woman sleeps with every soldier that drops by (in front of her infant son, no less.)
  • Rearing Horse: Barry's son tries this at home. He falls off...with fatal consequences.
  • Self-Made Man: Barry, though it doesn't last. As the narrator reminds us, the qualities that allow men to amass fortunes often make them ill-suited to keeping them.
  • Scenery Porn: The film was shot on custom-made NASA lenses that allowed Kubrick to film nighttime scenes by sheer candlelight, evoking the chiaroscuro period technique, while zooming away from the central action in order to frame the shots as if they were period paintings. Not only that, but a good portion of the film was shot during a few precious moments of golden sunrise/sundown. Sure enough, cinematographer John Alcott won an Award for his work.
  • Second-Face Smoke: Mrs. Lyndon asks Barry not to smoke so much in the carriage. Barry blows smoke in her face, kisses her passionately, and goes right back to smoking. It is perhaps the first telltale sign that not all is well in their marriage.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The second part of the movie geometrically undoes every bit of luck Barry has enjoyed during the first part of the movie, and he ends up with less than he began with. In the end, Barry ends up back where he started with nothing to show for himself, maimed, banned from England for life, and with his son with Lady Lyndon dead, more or less ending any hopes of his family line becoming part of the aristocracy. The only succor is a check paid to him and his mother annually.
    Narrator: It was in the reign of George III that the aforesaid personages lived and quarreled; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor they are all equal now.
  • Sissy Villain: Lord Bullingdon is the closest the film has to a central villain, but he's a foppish, cowardly Momma's Boy who screws up everything he tries to do.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Deconstructed savagely by Kubrick, as everyone is required to suppress their emotions, and Barry's biggest faux pas in society is to show some, such as crying at the loss of loved ones, for example. The very idea!
  • Social Climber: Barry is a clinical deconstruction of a social climber with his drive to fit in with the "social betters" and the hypocrisy that keeps social barriers in place.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Barry becomes one of these in the book while fighting in the Seven Years War. It's implied that Barry's hellish treatment in the Prussian army contributed to him being this way and enthusiastically joining in "foraging" (read Rape, Pillage, and Burn). There's a kind of disturbing scene where in a surprisingly gentle tone he describes a foppish and inexperienced opponent whose skull he bashed in with his musket and whose corpse he looted.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: The entire film. The film is mannered in the extreme, but much of the humor comes from the Very Proper Narration.
  • Talent Double: In a scene where Patrick Magee was supposed to deal cards, he began to sweat, and the sweat on his palms made it nearly impossible to deal cards smoothly. Kubrick brought in a professional card dealer, and then realized that the card dealer's hands were smooth while Magee's were hairy. To prevent continuity problems, Magee's hands were shaved so the cuts would both look like him.
  • Ten Paces and Turn: There's a twist in the "stand at your mark" version: the duelists take it in turns to fire, based on a coin toss. There's a memorable scene where Lord Bullingdon, having missed his shot, throws up in terror realizing that Barry Lyndon now has carte blanche to shoot him in cold blood, though Barry opts to delope and shoot into the ground when it's his turn. This is actually how most duels of that period worked. Pistols were horribly inaccurate and many duelists deloped anyway; it was also considered very bad form to aim carefully. The point was more to test whether both parties cared enough about the issue to take the risk— not that this stops Bullingdon from shooting Barry in the leg when it's the former's turn again.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Deconstructed. All of the characters attempt to remain as emotionless as possible, and Barry is an outcast from society for being too emotional.
  • Tranquil Fury: The fearsome Prince of Tübingen (played by Wolf Kahler) shows no expression save for a menacing Kubrick Stare as he accuses the Chevalier of cheating him out of 15,500 Friedrichs d'or.
    Chevalier...though I cannot say how...I believe you have cheated me.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Barry in the second half. Oddly, this is not a spoiler thanks to the narrator establishing a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Undying Loyalty: Barry's mother. She ends up being the only person to care for him after he's lost everything but her.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • Despite Barry's genuine affection for Nora, she mostly deflects his advances on the grounds that he is "only a boy." She leads him on, yet makes it clear that she is set to marry Captain Quinn. After Barry is driven to exile because he pursued his love to the point of dueling Captain Quinn for her, she marries Quinn anyway.
    • During the final duel, Barry has Lord Bullingdon at his mercy but chooses to spare the younger man. Bullingdon, however, is unmoved and gleefully shoots a defenseless Barry.
  • Unreliable Narrator: See Foregone Conclusion above. Also consider the book source, where Barry himself is the unreliable narrator.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Lord Bullingdon, after going off half-cocked in his duel with Barry.
  • You Can't Go Home Again:
    • Early in the film, Barry shoots Captain Quinn dead in a duel over Nora and is sent off to Dublin in order to avoid the law. Grogan later explains to Barry that he was tricked; everybody pretended Quinn was killed in order to get Barry to go away.
    • In the end, Bullingdon makes Barry leave England and threatens him with debtors' prison if he ever returns.
  • Villain Protagonist: Barry, the central character, is twice a deserter, a rake, a spendthrift, a philanderer, an abusive step-father to Lord Bullingdon, and an abusive and unfaithful husband to Lady Lyndon. His downfall is largely built on the consequences of his own actions.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Barry's mother is willing to manipulate her daughter-in-law as well as encourage her son's expensive ventures that serve only to run his family finances into the dirt, but there is no question she does so out of concern for Barry and her grandson's security.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Chevalier disappears from the story after Barry's marriage to Lady Lyndon. Given that he was Barry's senior by at least a couple decades, it could be inferred that he died of old age during the time lapse.
  • Widow Woman: Barry's mother refuses every marriage proposal after the death of her husband, devoting herself to raising her son.

Alternative Title(s): The Luck Of Barry Lyndon