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.
Memories of a Martial-Arts Master
In this outtake from an interview with Shangkuan Ling-fung, the Taiwanese wuxia icon gets nostalgic about her encounters with Bruce Lee.
How Ron Shelton Did Justice to the “Talking Sport”
The director of Bull Durham explains the ins and outs of bringing baseball to the screen and why Kevin Costner is the finest athletic actor he’s worked with.
The Birth of a Hollywood Bad Girl
The product of consummate artistry and savvy promotion, Marlene Dietrich’s salacious image opened up erotic frontiers for a generation of moviegoers.
The Hope That Fueled Bowling for Columbine
How much can a film turn the tide on American violence? Michael Moore and archivist Carl Deal reflect on the moral urgency that gave rise to one of the most talked-about documentaries of all time.