From Martin Scorsese's MasterClass

Scene Discussion: Barry Lyndon

Martin analyzes the first scene of Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon. Watch and learn as Martin breaks down the use of natural lighting and voice-over. Discover how every image in the scene embodies the structure of an entire historical moment.

Topics include: Scene From Barry Lyndon (1975) Directed by Stanley Kubrick

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Martin analyzes the first scene of Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon. Watch and learn as Martin breaks down the use of natural lighting and voice-over. Discover how every image in the scene embodies the structure of an entire historical moment.

Topics include: Scene From Barry Lyndon (1975) Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Martin Scorsese

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A whole thing here, of course, is establishing a pace and a mood and a context of the period. And that has to do with the behavior of the people in the frame, the pace of the camera pulling back from the statue, and the use of music. It's a scene that somehow-- I remember upon first seeing this, because of the use of natural light, the beginnings of the voiceover that doesn't intrude in the picture, but adds to the world of the film is depicting. First love. Want a change it makes in a lad. What a magnificent secret it is that he carries about with him. The tender passion gushes instinctively out of a man's heart. The behavior of the actors, and particularly the whole piece and this cut to this meeting close up. The look in her eyes. Killarney. Now-- This whole piece kind of has a-- it's a wonderful example of a kind of excruciating enjoyment of the withholding of the sexuality. And this is done through the very slow pacing compositions, the look in her face. And also sets the entire tone for the film in terms of the behavior of the character's, behavior of the actors. And once again, I can't express enough the use of the imagery to evoke 18th century. The 18th century, 18th century paintings because in here, of course, is directing everything. She has a kind of single- minded approach to everything here, in this scene. You know, she's ruthless. --If you do not find it. [MUSIC PLAYING] The use of natural light places you in the emotional and psychological state of the characters. Every image embodies the structure of an entire society and the savagery that it contains. Immediately, from the first scene, you have such a powerful understanding of how people behaved and related to each other. I cannot find it. You haven't looked properly The deliberateness of the dialogue and the pauses between the sentences, it takes you back, like a time machine, into another way of living and thinking because nothing was fast around them. It was all slow and intense. I cannot find it. [MUSIC PLAYING] I'll give you a hint. I think the filter on the two shot has to do more with conscious effort to evoke painting, there's no doubt. [MUSIC PLAYING] I feel the ribbon. [MUSIC PLAYING] Why are you trembling? [MUSIC PLAYING] At the pleasure-- She talks about trembling, but the whole scene is trembling in that way. And you really feel, here, the angle changes, setting up-- it's a beautiful light, still on her, but it really is setting up the light for Ryan O'Neal's face here, and the kiss. But the key to this whole scene is the excruciating enjoyment of the trembling. As an authority to take a film like this and have the command of that piece of a narrative film, and demand this from an audience. You know, it doesn't seem that far, that far out of the norm for Stanley Cooper, particularly because he established this kind of concentration of v...

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Comments

Blu L.

I agree with Martin's analysis as far as the mood and anticipation that comes from withholding the physical tension. Like the sweet love that one displays to the woman who will carry their children. The trembling is key to the sensitivity of the film and her character. Her conducting the scene causes me to believe that her character loves determining the moves as they go and not through careful planning of such events or happenings. The piece can take place in a theatre. - Oscar

EK T.

I would not have drawn any of the conclusions Mr. Scorsese made based on what I just saw and heard. I guess that is why he is where he is. Brilliant observations.

Anastacia S.

Part of Martin's brilliance is his extreme sensitivity to all elements of the art of film. Such a master. One scene discussion opens an entire world of understanding.

Desiree

Confession: I have a hard time watching this scene without inwardly cringing and wanting to watch through half covered eyes. The whole scene may tremble with first love, as Marty says, but it also screams of the naivety of a boy who is outmatched and outwitted by an older, wiser and not nearly as invested cousin. He may be trembling, but she is clearly naught. …Awkward. And that’s the magic of this scene for me. That filmy filter softening the scene — making it dreamy and romantic is only in Barry’s head. For me, as the viewer, the scene’s almost saccharine tone is, thankfully, torn asunder by her acidic tone and comments. As a viewer, I already know this will not end well.

Mia S.

"The filter on the two-shot has more to do with conscious effort to evoke painting, there's no doubt. She talks about trembling, but the whole scene is trembling in that way - you really feel, here the the angle changes, setting up - it's a beautiful light, still on her, but it really is setting up - the light for Ryan O'Neal's face here, and the kiss. But the key to this whole scene is the excruciating enjoyment of the trembling. There's an authority to take a film like this and have the command of that piece of a narrative film, and demand this from an audience... it doesn't seem that far out of the norm for Stanley Kubrick, particularly because he established this kind of concentration of viewing for the audience in '2001: A Space Odyssey.' So here, it's a similar thing, only back in time."

Mia S.

"The whole thing here, of course, is establishing a pace and mood and context of the period. That has to do with the behavior of the people in the frame, the pace of the camera pulling back from the statue, and the use of music. It's a scene that somehow - I remember upon first seeing this, because of the use of natural light, the beginnings of the voice-over that doesn't intrude in the picture, but adds to the world that the film is depicting. The behavior of the actors, and particularly this cut to this meeting, close up - the look in her eyes. The whole piece kind of has a - it's a wonderful example of kind of excruciating enjoyment of the withholding of the sexuality. This is done through the very slow pacing compositions, the look in her face, and also sets the entire tone for the film in terms of the behavior of the characters, of the actors, and once again I can't express enough the use of the imagery to evoke 18th century,18th century paintings. In here, of course, is directing everything.- she has a kind of single-minded approach to everything here in this scene, she's ruthless. The use of natural light places you in the emotional and psychological state of the characters - every image embodies the structure of an entire society, and the savagery that it contains. Immediately, from the first scene, you have such a powerful understanding of how people behaved and related to each other. The deliberateness of the dialogue and the pauses between the sentences, it takes you back like a time machine into another way of living and thinking - because nothing was fast around them, it was all slow and intense."

Kristine K.

I was told recently by an AD that Stanley Kubrick asked Ryan Oneal to amputate his leg for the movie. Not sure if it's true but it was a funny story. Great scene!

Ioannis M.

Martin has greatly picked a scene - but the lesson is extremely short! A clear sign of the hastiness is the fact that in the English subs, Martin says "Stanley Kubrick" and the ignorant idiot who makes the subs writes "Stanley Cooper". No one cared to check or correct this? I have done many of the Masterclasses here. Almost always the instructors are greatly chosen. Some of them really care for the Masterclass - e.g. Aaron Sorkin, Hans Zimmer - some don't. But the length is almost always short, the interactivity that should exist is close to zero and only few times the additional material given is worthwhile. I am still satisfied to have watched several of those Masters teaching - but the Masterclasses are quite expensive for their length and taking into account the lack on care on even trivial things such as subtitling and writing Stanley Kubrick instead of Stanley Cooper. I bet if Martin knew, would get sick!! There should have been more interactivity, more additional assignments or sources in the workbook, and at least double duration! Barry Lindon scene could have been analysed in an hour - or even three hours. Give it at least 15 minutes guys!!

A fellow student

Barry Lindon is trully a visual master peace. For those who knows about that time period painting, the colour palette., the textures, everything is on the spot. Also, the use of natural lighting doesn't mean not using any other means of controlling light sources (reflectors, filters)... It means the source of the lighting is natural, not flat and uncontrolled. This is also why Kubrick and his team used very fast lenses to get the most of it, especially during indoors scenes...

Anthony Lee M.

Interesting pacing and mood for the time and period. Love the classic nature of it and it's respect for the story to come.