Warner Bros. Studio Burbank, Calif....843 6000
KUBRICK'S IRISH ODYSSEY
When Stanley Kubrick landed in Ireland over two years ago to film the adventures
of William Thackeray's Irish rascal, Barry Lyndon, he never guessed that his troublesome
hero would be doing battle this Christmas in London and Dublin with "Jaws,"
the biggest money-maker of all time.
Kubrick began his Irish odyssey in the autumn of 1973 with two lorryloads of cameras
and a giant script under the working title of "The Luck of Barry Lyndon."
It was strange to see this film-maker, apparently obsessed by the difficult present
and more difficult future if one could judge by films like "Dr. Strangelove,"
"A Clockwork Orange" and "2001 - A Space Odyssey," settle for
a land that was knee-deep in the past and not particularly green at that time of
But the Kubrick caravan had clearly arrived. Some 2,000 muskets and bayonets arrived
from London and negotiations began with the Irish Army to supply the men behind them.
Horses were hired to pull gun carriages.
Soon gaps had been opened in waving cornfields down in Waterford, camera dollies
had been erected, tents pitched .. the scene was set for the first major sequence
in the film, the battle of Warburg. At about the same time, the local branch of
the I.R.A. held a meeting and the seeds of distrust were sown.
Those early days were carefree. Before the camera Marie Kean strolled along the
path admiring flowers. The wardrobe people were concerned mostly with velvets, ribbons,
lace and garters. Over in Waterford's industrial estate, two empty factories were
taken over for costume fittings for later scenes.
Small hotels dependent on a fickle tourist trade burst with pride paging names for
which a Hilton would give its penthouse suite. Ryan O'Neal's pony tail swung wildly
every time he heard his name over the loudspeaker. A little bit of Hollywood had
fallen off the merry-go-round and landed in Ireland.
Vast scenes took shape from brief sentences in the script and the Kubrick (more)
Irish Odyssey.... 2
machine was in gear. From dawn villages stirred out of their long sleep and leapt
to life with the sound of generators, prop wagons, mobile canteens, cara vans, horseboxes,
camera cars, buses, lorries, jeeps and assorted conveyances.
Huntsmen abandoned the hunt, dole queues disappeared, women abandoned their kitchens
and children their classrooms to work for the famous film-maker from London. His
money could move mountains and almost did.
Pensioners on the way to the post office stopped their bikes and stood in awe as
the English and the French fired volley at each other without a single casualty.
A chambermaid on her morning rounds stood in awe too - before a dressing table that
bore so many pills and bottles that she thought she was in a chemist's shop. It was
a collision of two different worlds - an image which would well be appreciated by
a certain master painter one of many craftsmen who made up the Kubrick battalions.
The man was driving through County Waterford one day. Suddenly a farmer drove his
tractor out of a. gap on one side of the road and disappeared again through a gap
on the other side. The master painter applied his brakes, but impact was inevitable.
Suffering from shock, the man sat in his vehicle until the farmer returned with
his cows. He proceeded to tackle the farmer about the crash.
"Look, my man," said the farmer, "Everybody round here knows that
I have to cross the road this time every morning to get the cows. So, off with you....
It was indeed a collision of two worlds.
The battle of Warburg had to be abandoned because of heavy rain. Cattle bawled behind
battle lines. Tired soldiers were replaced with fresh ones. Yet the cameras always
rolled, for Kubrick always had alternative work and was likely to change his tactics
morning, noon and night.
Every night cans of film were driven up the coast road to Dublin for dispatch to
laboratories in London. And each night the previous night's cargo, now processed,
was driven back to Waterford for viewing by the governor.
Hawk Productions soon took over another vacant factory, this one for the making
of saddlebags, kits, flags, swords, furniture, wagons and dummies. Kubrick's store
houses began to look like art galleries.
The vitality of this human dynamo in an oversized coat could be felt right down
the extended lines. He could spot a watch on a soldier's wrist a mile off. It might
take him days to say goodbye to a scene, yet he could break an actor's heart in an
hour to get what he wanted in seconds. Or he could make
Irish Odyssey.... 3
the actor a star for life.
As scenes were shot again and again, the dialogue was picked up by everyone around.
At night in the local pub, one was sure to hear that day's lines getting better
with the Guinness ale.
Those early days on "Barry Lyndon'were indeed tough, but there was nobody big
enough to call Kubrick "a son-of-a-bitch.'1 His behavior often seemed extravagant,
even cruel, but such may be the prerogative of genius.
Liam Redmond came closest to a confrontation. It was 9 o'clock on the ninth night
of a particular scene. Liam was playing Old Brady of Brady Manor House, and he was
to welcome the gentlemen of the King's army into his house with the words: "Gentlemen,
this is a. very happy occasion...
From behind his viewfinder, Stanley Kubrick shouted "action" for the umpteenth
time. It was as if the previous nine days of this scene ha.dn't taken place. Liam
"Gentlemen, this is gone beyond a. joke...."
The other actors and assembled crew stifled back their laughter and embarrassment
as Liam continued with his lines. Kubrick simply yelled "cut," and added,
"Liam, I don't think you got the first line right."
Singlemindedness. It was seen again in the matter of Captain Fagan, a fatherly
character in the story. Godfrey Quigley, who ha.d played the prison chaplain in
"A Clockwork Orange, " was offered the part, but couldn't take it because
of previous commitments.
Ray McAnally was soon doing riding lessons to play Captain Fagan. He duly arrived
on set, vigorous, battle anxious and fully costumed. Kubrick took one look and said
"no." He rescheduled the picture and waited for Quigley.
These were the days of the long shot. The camera eagled-eyed the route marches
at a safe distance. From the Comeraghs to Moorstown Castle, the 16-stone Quigley
and the stiff-upper-lipped Leonard Rossiter led the redcoats from camp to camp to
the sound of fife and drum.
Then came the day when we almost saw the first army mutiny since the Curragh. A
force of 500 men had marched into Moorstown Castle 29 times since 7 o'clock in the
morning. It was now darkening and Kubrick still wasn't satisfied.
As the soldiers marched in, Ryan O'Neal, a mere private, was to be (more)
Irish Odyssey.... 4
standing at the entrance saluting the officers. Suddenly he was to recognize Captain
Fagan, his old friend from Ireland. It was the moment of mutual recognition that
Kubrick was trying to perfect.
By the 29th march-past, the soldiers were getting a bit frayed at the edges. Expletives,
whistles, jeers and other forms of abuse were rising from the ranks. But Kubrick,
as is always the case, won the day. He wheedled and cajoled the soldiers into staying.
Miles back up the road he has assistants and managers of every description pleading
with the backed-up traffic to hold their hour. And the Kubrick lenses, also called
"the gems," got the sequence they sought.
One day Stanley Kubrick told Godfrey Quigley that he was thinking of killing him.
Godfrey didn't relish the idea, knowing what the director was capable of thinking
up. It was all over in seconds. A few blood bombs burst inside the Captain's immaculate
uniform and he hit the dust, several times, of course, to be comforted by friend
Lyndon. "Any time Stanley wants me back, I'll be back," said Godfrey as
he left for his theatre engagement. "He's the very best there is."
Marie Kean also holds Kubrick in the highest esteem and thought nothing of doing
a scene 30 times. "I was well used to that working for David Lean and Roman
Polanski," she said.
Archie Sullivan amused the governor in the part of an old Irish rogue. It seemed
to be for his own amusement that Kubrick shouted "again," as he smiled
at Archie giving life to the character.
"Where are you bound for, young fella?'~asks Archie of Barry Lyndon outside
a village in Kilkenny. "I'm after coming from Waterford, Sir, and I'm on my
way to Dublin."
Just before Christmas, Kubrick called a break. We all needed time to "rekubricate"
away from Stanley and he probably knew it. Two months later we gathered again, this
time at Ardmore Studios.
Stamina was restored. Smiles had replaced blank stares. People said, "good
morning." It was spring. There were some new faces, new managers, but most of
the sloggers had survived.
The Kubrick family - Stanley, wife Christiane, and three daughters moved into a
house in Leixlip. The O'Neals, Ryan and daughter Tatum, took a place in Leopardstown.
Hardy Kruger and Patrick Magee hired rooms in a hotel in Ballsbridge. As did the
female lead, the beautiful Marisa Berenson.
The stage was set for the second phase of "Barry Lyndon." The soldier(more)
mg days were past and it was now the time of wine and women, elegance and wealth,
gaming tables and duels.
The Slazengers were away when the gates of Powerscourt, County Dublin, were opened
for the Kubrick circus. The 40 Volkswagen vans and scores of other vehicles wound
through the stately grounds on their way to the mansion. The deal had been done for
1,000 pounds a day.
The main hall was soon converted into a German gaming room, lit only by candles
- quite a feat to film in such light, but Kubrick did it. An ocean of wax accumulated
on the floor but Kubrick left the place as he had found it, in perfect condition,
for the fire that was to sweep the house a few months later.
Kubrick was also the last big-timer to take over Dublin Castle before the Europeans.
He moved cautiously here too, like a fawn around an abattoir.
In the castle, he watched a man go to work on the window of the throne room. The
man's methods were not quite craftsmanlike. Kubrick called his art director: "Who
is that guy? Does he want us to be fired out of here before we even begin?"
According to the script, the Castle was the Berlin home of an Irish-born playboy
extraordinary. The part was played by Patrick Magee, who had worked for Stanley Kubrick
in "A Clockwork Orange."
In setting up the illusion, the Castle had lost much of its normal decor. The Round
rooms had suffered most - here the pictures of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation
were stacked up unceremoniously, faces to the wall.
For me, unlike Red Hugh O'Donnell, there was no escape from the Castle. In St.
Patrick's Hall I enjoyed an Irish stew in the company of an aristocratic lady who
protested that her Equity rate was far below her I3ritish rate.
I'm sure the late Viceroy, the Duke of Marlborough, would have raised Kubrick to
the most illustrious Order of St. Patrick for obtaining such beautiful ladies for
Without knowing it, we were now into the last week of shooting in Ireland. The Phoenix
Park was the location for a scene involving Hardy Kruger and Ryan O'Neal riding in
a carriage. Between takes Kubrick was listening to the radio it was a time of endless
bomb scares and similar hoaxes.
Suddenly Kubrick was gone, back to his family in Leixlip. The sun had
Irish Odyssey.... 6
begun to fade before he could be coaxed back to Dublin Castle and then only with
guarantees that civil war had not broken out.
Days of indecision and rejection followed. Ryan O'Neal began to get stomach pains.
Then came the last day.
It was a Thursday morning. The news in Dublin was that buses had been hijacked,
roads had been blocked. There was much confusion. I3ombs went off.
In Dublin Castle, a hairdresser answered a phone, panicked and it was the end.
Stanley Kubrick had slipped out into the traffic in Dame Street and bolted for I~eixlip.
The curtain had come down on Barry Lyndon's adventure 5 in Ireland.
As a smokescreen, Kubrick's people issued a call for the crew to report to Powerscourt
the next morning. In fact, the exodus to England had already begun.
The art director had found Kubrick's immediate requirements in Wilton house in
Salisbury and the real call was for 8 a. m. on the following Monday morning.
Barry Lyn don's premature departure from his native shores had probably cost the
country millions of pounds in all sorts of spin-offs, from an epic film production
such as this.
"Barry Lyndon" is written for the screen, produced and directed by Stanley
Kubrick and stars Ryan O'Neal and Marisa Berenson. For release world-wide by Warner
Printed in U.S.A. 11375