Brian Eno is widely regarded as one the greatest living musical pioneers whose influence on the future of music can hardly be quantified by regular measures. From punk to techno and ambient music, Eno’s contributions to his domain have inspired multiple generations of aspiring artists who have dedicated their success to him.
In addition to his own investigations, Eno has also maintained an active interest in film soundtracks. While talking about his favourite soundtracks from iconic movies, he cited David Bowie’s haunting contribution to David Lynch’s Lost Highway as well as Nino Rota’s score in the seminal 1965 film Juliet of the Spirits.
Eno is also a huge fan of the sound design of Stanley Kubrick’s sprawling 1975 opus Barry Lyndon and noted that the use of ‘Women of Ireland’ by The Chieftains in the film is one of his favourite musical moments of all time. During the development of the project, Kubrick had his own ideas about the soundtrack.
In an interview, he elaborated on his thought process and explained: “I thought it was right to use only eighteenth-century music. But sometimes you can make ground rules for yourself which prove unnecessary and counter-productive. I think I must have listened to every LP you can buy of eighteenth-century music.”
Adding, “One of the problems which soon became apparent is that there are no tragic love themes in eighteenth-century music. So eventually I decided to use Schubert’s Trio in E Flat, Opus 100, written in 1828. It’s a magnificent piece of music and it has just the right restrained balance between the tragic and the romantic without getting into the headier stuff of later Romanticism.”
Eno isn’t just a fan of the soundtrack but he also considers Barry Lyndon to be the greatest cinematic masterpiece he had ever seen. A slow and deliberate exploration of human ambition contextualised within a highly specific sociopolitical framework, the film follows the tragic rise and fall of an opportunist whose dreams lead to his demise.
Many scholars have pointed out the thematic similarities between Barry Lyndon and Eno’s 1975 album Another Green World. Not only were they released during the same year, but both Kubrick and Eno also used technical innovations and other advanced gear to invoke images of natural landscapes which might explain Eno’s love for Kubrick’s masterpiece.