When it comes to film, Stanley Kubrick is a household name. His 1975 classic, “Barry Lyndon,” showed at the Lucas Theatre on Oct. 30. Actor Alec Baldwin and writer James Toback sat down to discuss Kubrick and his films after the screening.
“Many of his films, as is the case with ‘Barry Lyndon,’ are glacial. Meaning they move slowly at times, but the point being they never stop moving. They are never dead,” said Toback.
Kubrick’s control of imagery, diverse subject matter and ability to add unexpected humor were some style nuances both Baldwin and Toback agreed made the famed director stand apart from his colleagues. Baldwin pointed out that, at various despairing moments throughout the movie, most of the audience was laughing at the subtle humor while some members were actually crying.
“One thing that struck me in Barry Lyndon,” Baldwin said, “is that the downfall scenes, the scenes during Barry’s descent from when he begins to lose everything, was that the only light that Kubrick used was candlelight. He was one of the only directors then and now to do that.”
Kubrick was also known for doing countless takes of the same scene. Baldwin talked about the inherent need of a strong actor-director relationship and understanding Kubrick’s style.
“You always need to have reason behind what you’re doing,” he said. “Kubrick shot those scenes over and over again because he knew he was getting something different from each take. That style can really make actors go insane. Shelley Duvall (“The Shining”), for example,” he joked.
“But you don’t want to finish shooting wishing you’d done that scene just one more time,” added Toback.
Both agreed that Kubrick made actors better. They cited main actors in Kubrick’s films who never reached the high level of acting in any other movie like they did in Kubrick’s. Baldwin called “Barry Lyndon,” which he shot entirely with a wide-angle lens, Kubrick’s most colorful film. “With its stunning imagery, you almost forget that it’s three hours long.”Contact Josh Wolfe.