Barry Lyndon Release Date: May 31, 2011 Studio: Warner Home Video Packaging/Materials: Blu-ray "ECO-BOX" Year: 1975 Rating: PG Running Time: 3:05:03 MSRP: $19.98 THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES Video 1080p high definition 1.85:1 Standard definition Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: French 5.1, German 5.1, Italian 5.1, Castellano 5.1, Spanish 5.1, Portuguese 5.1 Stereo Subtitles English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Castellano, Dutch, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazil), Swedish None The Feature: 4.5/5 Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon," based on the William Makepeace Thackery novel "The Luck of Barry Lyndon," details the rise and fall of Irishman Redmond Barry (Ryan O'Neal) as he develops from a naive, idealistic boy into a roguish, self-serving opportunist. It's not a transformation that happens quickly, coming after years of hardship - running from the law for killing a wealthy officer in a duel, and serving almost a decade in military service, first with the English and then the Prussian Army, despite his best efforts to flee the horrors of the Seven Years' War. When he finally catches a break it's thanks to a duplicitous chevalier (Patrick Magee), who takes him under his wing and ultimately aids him in escaping from his Prussian masters. But rather than live an honest life in response to his new found freedom, Barry spends it with his new mentor, bilking Europe's aristocracy through games of chance and, on occasion, collecting debts through the use of force. By the time he meets and seemingly falls in love with the Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson), his moral compass is set. Marrying her is his ticket to long term wealth, and perhaps even respect, though he'll find that holding on to those things is ultimately more difficult than their acquisition. Coming four years after the controversy of "A Clockwork Orange," Kubrick does nothing in "Barry Lyndon" to repeat the experience, though that doesn't mean he plays it safe. Always working on the cutting edge of cinematography, Kubrick and Cinematographer John Alcott used specially designed cameras and optics to tell their 18th Century period piece with a true-to-the-era aesthetic that used or replicated natural light and purely candle powered illumination. Juxtaposed with the decidedly modern zoom lens, the cinematography has a notable, anachronistic quality, but one that ultimately suits the film's wry and subtly dark subcurrent of humor. Indeed, there are times - particularly in Part One (AKA Barry's rise) - where I was half expecting members of the Monty Python troupe to make an appearance. Of course the skewering of 18th Century European values never uses such broad strokes, but its sly approach proves just as effective. The details of Barry's life amount to a tragedy, however - one of his own making, but ultimately exacerbated by the society in which he lived. In that respect, the film is easily viewed as a cautionary tale, but leave it to Kubrick to leave a seed of doubt on that point. Thanks to the closing title card, viewers of at least two philosophical stripes should leave the viewing with plenty to discuss. Video Quality: 4.5/5 Presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer approximates the 1.85:1 aspect ratio by filling the entire 16:9 frame. The film may have been composed for a 1.66:1 presentation, but based on Robert Harris's evaluation, that seems unlikely, and I noticed no instances of awkward framing. The image itself is gorgeous and clean, presenting Atoll's sometimes envelope-pushing cinematography in all its glory. Yes, the candelit scenes look soft, but that has everything to do with the intentional lighting conditions and the optics used to capture it. Fine detail is excellent, more so perhaps in close ups than wide shots, but sharpness holds up throughout. Colors, black level and contrast are likewise strong and well-rendered, with no artifacts from excessive digital processing. Audio Quality: 4/5 Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is consistently clear, intelligible and detailed. Surround activity is limited, with effects consisting of the occasional environmental effect or support for the orchestral score. Though the front sound stage dominates the presentation it's reasonably expansive, with some localization of voices in the wider framings. The track also exhibits good depth and fullness, though LFE is non-existent. Special Features: 1/5 Theatrical Trailer (2:09, SD) Recap The Feature: 4.5/5 Video Quality: 4.5/5 Audio Quality: 4/5 Special Features: 1/5 Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5 Warner Home Video turns in an excellent presentation of Kubrick's wry and subtly dark 18th Century period piece. Though the sole extra is the theatrical trailer in standard definition, it doesn't diminish the availability of this beautiful piece of fillmmaking in high definition. The individual title is currently an Amazon exclusive, but is included in the "Stanley Kubrick Limited Edition Collection" Blu-ray boxed set, also coming out on May 31, 2011. This collection of nine Kubrick films is available through other retailers, in addition to Amazon.