Cinema Curiosities: Kubrick’s NASA lenses

Barry Lyndon

In Barry Lyndon (1975) Stanley Kubrick used a NASA special lens, the high-speed Zeiss 50mm f/0.7, designed for the Apollo Moon landing program, to shoot interior scenes.

As he didn’t want to use artificial lighting in order to create a more natural look and recreate candlelit interiors to perfection, he used this lens that captured light better than any other. The lens was adjusted to the camera with a Kollmorgen adaptor.

Besides, the lens also created the effect of bi-dimensional figures, that, together with the lighting, especially candlelight in dark interiors, and the fact that Kubrick made actors pose in a particular position, made the shots look like 17th-18th century paintings, like Rembrandt’s or Delatour’s.