f/0.7 and 800-Foot Sliders: The Insane Cinematography Gymnastics of 'Barry Lyndon'

The 1976 Oscar winner for Best Cinematography was "Barry Lyndon" (John Alcott) and deservedly so, as the sheer technical achievement and aesthetic quality of the film is astounding. This great video takes you behind the scenes of a film set that used 800-foot sliders and lenses from NASA.

Coming to you from CinemaTyler, this great video takes you behind the scenes of Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon." The film has a certain fame among photographers and videographers for its use of 50mm f/0.7 lenses obtained from NASA, and while that's certainly a neat aspect of it (and it allowed Kubrick to film scenes lit only by candlelight), the cinematography goes much, much deeper than just those lenses. Alcott went to incredible lengths of effort and ingenuity, employing an 800-foot slider for the battle scene and often using massive lights outside the filming locations to shine light through the windows and mimic natural light rather than setting them up inside the room. Even with all this attention to detail, Kubrick and Alcott often had to change things on the fly, as constantly shifting conditions continually challenged their ability to ensure a consistent aesthetic throughout the film. Check out the video above for a neat look at this incredible achievement. 

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3 Comments

mark mil's picture

Easy to be, but I'm a huge fan of SK. Too young to have seen his best work in the theatre during its initial release (except for a sneak in to FMJ), but go every time something is playing around here.

Have you had the chance to see the touring 'show / museum' set? They had the NASA lens as well as a lot of other fun pieces of film making equipment.

Two favourite stories, he required the war room table in Dr. Strangelove to be green even though the film was black and white. Apparently they went through several variations before they found a green he liked.

He almost burned down the Overlook set using giant lights to wash out shadows.

Michael Comeau's picture

I saw that lens up close at a Stanley Kubrick retrospective at LACMA. I'll try to post a picture of it later.

John Friese's picture

This is my crack, bts about cinema.