Thanks to a 5.20 Criterion Forum posting by “Gregory”, we have a few comparison shots showing the 1.66 aspect ratio on the DVD vs. the 1.78 aspect ratio on the Bluray. (The latter adds a sliver of information on the left and right sides.) You can shrug and ask “what’s the biggie?” but this is corporate vandalism, pure and simple.
Sampling of Criterion Forum comments: (a) “Christ, the cropping destroys the composition…what happened, where was Leon Vitali?”; (b) “You know what I love about all of the endless Kubrick aspect-ratio controversies? That the films still look absolutely fine in just about every ratio they’ve tried”; (c) “For virtually any wrong presentation of a film, there are inevitably lots of people to whom it looks absolutely fine. What’s the relevance of that? Can you give one good reason why they should go against Kubrick’s established preference, rather than doing the same thing they did with the Lolita BD?”; (d) “Barry Lyndon [is] just about the only one of Kubrick’s post-1960s films about which there’s no doubt whatsoever — the aspect ratio should unambiguously be 1.66:1.”