Random Frame (Barry Lyndon)

  • Post category:Art

When I was a teenager I had the flu and I woke up during the night, right about two in the morning, and I went downstairs to watch a little TV. I thought I’d sit there for a bit and then go back to bed. My brother, whose bedroom was on the lower floor, couldn’t sleep either, and he came out to join me. On the TV—this was back in the early days of cable—was a movie with people in period costume, the lead role played by the guy from Love Story, and we watched that film for three full hours, until just past five.

We did not know the name of the film that night or anything else about it but later I learned that we must have turned on the television just after the first minutes of Barry Lyndon began. It’s not so much that it is the kind of film that stays with you as it is the kind of film that tattoos itself on all you think about film. It offers so much to point to, so much to write about: the period costumes (which, on the lead characters, are not costumes at all but museum pieces), the special film stock (made by Kodak to mimic Old Master paintings), the low-light (three-wick) candle shots, the music, the the, the, the. It doesn’t stop.

But none of that points to why you keep thinking about the film, why certain scenes or certain passages of music will just show up in your mind when you are going about your business.

Random Frame (Barry Lyndon) takes each frame from that film and displays it in a (more or less) random order, displaying the frames at half the speed of the original movie so that you have a chance to register the frame, however briefly, giving you a moment, and only a moment, to partake of that image. You probably need to know the original film well in order to make the most of the Random Frame movies—you need to half remember feelings as the images prompt and as they flicker by you at twelve frames per second—long enough to see, long enough to feel, but not long enough to think about.