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These memorable words provide the epilogue to Barry Lyndon (1975), Stanley Kubrick’s monumental drama set in 18th-century Europe. It’s no spoiler to say so. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust – while stories thrive on suspense, we all come to the same eventual end.

Looking for a period subject after his planned Napoleon project failed to get off the ground, Kubrick initially considered William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic Vanity Fair, before being turned off by the announcement of a TV version. Instead, he alighted on the author’s less well-known The Luck of Barry Lyndon, published in serial form in 1844 and telling the episodic adventures of the Irish soldier, spy, gambler then gentleman Redmond Barry.

The resulting adaptation is one of the high-water marks of the period film, an odyssey into the past to rival 2001: A Space Odyssey’s voyage of the future. Fastidious in its historical authenticity, it is simultaneously highly stylised, with compositions self-consciously echoing the great paintings of the era. Meanwhile, there is repeated use of zoom lenses (perhaps inspired by Roberto Rossellini’s similar technique in his 1966 film The Rise to Power of Louis XIV), which drift into and out of each pristinely arranged scene, coolly observing the tragic human drama.

The era of revolutions American, French and industrial, the 1700s have long provided a rich source of inspiration for filmmakers. Alongside Kubrick’s film, these 10 titles below represent some of the most striking examples, but there’s plenty more where they came from. Particularly recommended are Orphans of the Storm (1921), The Scarlet Pimpernel(1934), three very good versions of the Mutiny on the Bounty story (1935, 1962 and 1984), the Tokugawa-era-set Japanese masterpiece Humanity and Paper Balloons (1937), That Hamilton Woman (1941), The Young Mr. Pitt (1942), Fritz Lang’s Moonfleet (1955), the Albert Finney version of Tom Jones (1963), The Colour of Pomegranates (1968), The Madness of King George (1993) and Amma Asante’s recent Belle (2013).

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