Friday, June 30, 2006

The Opening Shot of Barry Lyndon

Jim Emerson is having a grand time on his wonderful blog, Scanners, coming up with great opening shots. In one particular article, Movies 101 – Opening Shots, he waxed eloquent about the opening of Barry Lyndon.

It is gorgeous, it's preternaturally funny, and it tells you everything you need to know about how to watch Barry Lyndon, one of the greatest movies ever to grace our planet.

Couldn’t agree more.

He went on to talk about how the composition of the shot was perfectly balanced with the trees, the grass, the rolling hills, the dark clouds, the old stone wall in the foreground (representing death), and how the shot did not give the characters much space to maneuver (or have any free will). He also listed other elements - the ritualized conduct of the duel, the humorous phallic imagery in the dialogue (“Gentlemen, cock your pistols”), and the playful interaction between the narrator and the duel, which conveyed how everything that would follow has already been predetermined.

Great! I love it!

But the writer in me couldn’t help but wonder, "How was this great scene written? If I wanted to write something like that in the opening scene of a script, how much of that information should I put to paper? How did Stanley write it?"

Let's read it together, shall we?



Brief shot of duel.

My father, who was well-known to the
best circles in this kingdom under
the name of roaring Harry James, was
killed in a duel, when I was fifteen
years old.

Funny... yet maddening.

(You can read Barry Lyndon here.)

Thursday, June 29, 2006


And while I'm at it posting pretty pictures of Mrs. Kidman-Urban, let me say that Birth was certainly one of the most overlooked, underrated movies of 2004, and Robert Cumbow's dissection of the film should NOT be missed.

Dennis Cozzalio likewise had a great article, Mystery of Birth, as did Jim Emerson, Birth of a Bunuelian Notion.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Eyes (Were Better) Shut

Let's start this blog with the glorious announcement that your scholarly film host extraordinaire, Mystery Man, recently viewed the uncut, unrated, filthy, dirty, mansion scene in Kubrick's final film, Eyes Wide Shut.

After waiting years and years and years, I finally saw what this supposedly "hardcore" scene was all about and...

I laughed.

I laughed and I laughed and I laughed.

The mansion's exhibitionists looked so silly with the way they were furiously pounding each other. Their movements were so animated and so over-the-top (no pun intended) that it was more comical than hardcore, and I doubt that was ever Kubrick's intention.

As much as I hate to say it, Eyes Wide Shut is a better film WITH the carefully placed figures blocking our view because it left more to the imagination. I'm starting to wonder if perhaps, Warner Brothers added those figures NOT because the sex was "too hardcore" but because the sex was, in reality, so silly looking that had it been shown in the U.S. as it was, American audiences would've laughed at it.

I also suspect that Warner Brothers HAD to lie about why they did it because they couldn't come out and tell the world, "hey, we had to cover up the sex because Kubrick, the pain-in-the-ass genius that he was, can film a lot of wonderful things, but sex is not one of them. Hiding the sex in the mansion was the difference between being turned on and falling out of your chair laughing."

That's my theory anyway.