With his absorbing historical drama Barry Lyndon (1975)—an adaptation of a William Makepeace Thackeray novel that archly chronicles the fortunes of a scheming social climber (Ryan O’Neal) in eighteenth-century Europe—the famously exacting Stanley Kubrick set out to vividly evoke a vanished past. To create the authentic look of the film, which went on to win multiple technical Oscars, the filmmaker drew inspiration from the landscape painting and portraiture of artists of the period such as Thomas Gainsborough and William Hogarth, and went to unprecedented lengths during production. In particular, the film’s interior scenes—which Kubrick insisted on shooting primarily by candlelight—posed myriad challenges for cinematographer John Alcott and his team, necessitating not only the retrofitting of super-wide-aperture lenses but also various practical work-arounds on-set. In the clip above, taken from a supplemental program on our new edition of Barry Lyndon, focus puller Douglas Milsome and gaffer Lou Bogue recall the breath-shortening amount of oxygen consumed by the candles during shooting, and the crew’s eventual use of reflectors to amplify the illumination without also producing more heat and smoke.
Liv Ullmann Recalls “Shattering” Moments on the Set of Shame
While working on Ingmar Bergman’s devastating antiwar film, the actress developed an emotionally intense chemistry with her costar Max von Sydow.
The Real-Life Rage That Fueled Lee Grant in In the Heat of the Night
In this excerpt from a new interview, the actor talks about how she channeled her political anger in the role of a distraught widow in Norman Jewison’s Oscar-winning crime drama.
Writing with the Body: Mikey and Nicky as an Actors’ Showcase
Elaine May populated her gangster-film masterpiece with acting heavyweights who could bring spontaneity to their roles. Critics Richard Brody and Carrie Rickey talk about her approach to performance in this clip.
How Hitchcock Pulled off a Shot for the Ages
Award-winning cinematographer John Bailey discusses the complications that Alfred Hitchcock faced trying to execute one of the most ambitious shots in his filmography.