The life of a Russian physician and poet who, although married to another, falls in love with a political activist's wife and experiences hardship during the First World War and then the October Revolution.
After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.
During the Russian Revolution, Yuri Zhivago, is a young doctor who has been raised by his aunt and uncle following his father's suicide. Yuri falls in love with beautiful Lara Guishar, who has been having an affair with her mother's lover, Victor Komarovsky, an unscrupulous businessman. Yuri, however, ends up marrying his cousin, Tonya. But when he and Lara meet again years later, the spark of love reignites. Written by
We never learn the fates either of Lara's mother or of her first daughter, Katya Pavlovna. See more »
The frame story (where Zhivago's half-brother finds his and Lara's daughter and tells the story) is set in the 1960s, but the daughter, who was born around 1920-1921, is only in her early 20s. In the novel, the frame story is set in World War II, which makes more sense. See more »
There are two kinds of men and only two. And that young man is one kind. He is high-minded. He is pure. He's the kind of man the world pretends to look up to, and in fact despises. He is the kind of man who breeds unhappiness, particularly in women. Do you understand?
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Within the heart and mind of the true poet resides a grasp and perception
of life and the human condition unequaled in it's purity by any other art
form. From Rimbaud to Frost to Jim Morrison, he will in a few words or
lines create or recreate an experience, thereby enabling his audience to
know that experience, as well, albeit vicariously. The poet, of course,
will choose the medium through which he will share his vision. For director
David Lean, that medium is the cinema; and with `Doctor Zhivago,' a film of
sweeping and poetic grandeur, he reveals that within, he harbors the heart
and soul of the poet. Indisputably, this is the true nature of David Lean;
and it is evident in every frame of this film from the beginning to
To borrow a line from the more recent `Moulin Rouge,' this is a story bout
`love.' A love story set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution.
Dr. Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif) is a general practitioner, but he is also a
poet; through his vocation as a man of medicine, he tends to those in need
in everyday real life. But it is through his avocation as a poet that he
expresses what he sees. He marries Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin) and has
children; but the War and revolution intervene, and it is during these
tumultuous times that his life becomes inexorably intertwined with a
government official, Komarovsky (Rod Steiger), a young revolutionary, Pasha
(Tom Courtenay), his half-brother, Yevgraf (Alec Guinness), and finally,
Lara (Julie Christie). It's desperate times for Russians from all walks of
life, and Zhivago does what he can to do what he can to keep the fragile
threads of his life-- and of those around him-- intact. But fate plays a
hand, and in the end, even Zhivago must go where Destiny
With `Zhivago,' David Lean has crafted and delivered a magnificent and
monumental motion picture of epic proportions that at the same time is
disarmingly intimate, rendered as a world within a world, with each a vital
part of the other. Lean blends actors, cinematography, story and music with
his own compassionate perspective to create a true work of art; a work of
true poetry. In telling his story, he offers breathtaking visuals, like the
awesome vistas of the snow-covered Urals, or a long shot of a wide open
Russian plain with a solitary figure in the distance trudging through the
snow, juxtaposed against the enormity of the landscape.
Often, however, what he doesn't show you, but suggests, is even more
effective and emotionally stirring. Consider the scene in which a
complement of mounted dragoons, sabres drawn, ride down upon a crowd
peacefully demonstrating in the city streets; Lean sets it up so that you
understand what is about to happen, then trains his camera on Zhivago,
watching from a balcony overlooking the street as the carnage unfolds below.
And in Zhivago's eyes, in the expression on his face, in his reaction to
what he is witnessing, there is more horror because of what Lean has
established in your imagination-- and which significantly enhances the
impact of it-- than anything the most graphic visual depiction could have
produced. Similarly, when the Czar and his whole family are shot, Lean does
not take you there; instead, you learn of it and realize the impact of it
through the reaction of Alexander Gromeko (Ralph Richardson), Tonya's
father, and it places it into a context that makes it all the more
effective. This is filmmaking at it's best, and an example of what makes
Lean's films so memorable.
Put a talented actor into the hands of a gifted director, and results of
more than some distinction can be expected; and such is the case with Omar
Sharif and David Lean. In 1962, Sharif received a Best Supporting Actor
nomination for his work in Lean's `Lawrence of Arabia,' and in `Zhivago,'
Lean's next film, Sharif gives a sensitive, affecting performance for which
he should have received a Best Actor nomination, but inexplicably, did not
(It was Lee Marvin's year for `Cat Ballou'). Still, as Yuri Zhivago, he has
never been better. Sharif successfully manages to convey his deepest,
internalized emotions, expressing them through the genuine compassion with
which he imbues his character. Lean allows his star the time he needs to
share with his audience his appreciation of the beauty he perceives in the
world around him, and it's in those pensive moments that we, in turn,
perceive the inner beauty and poetic nature of the man. You have but to
look into Zhivago's eyes to know his sense of joy in all living things.
It's a wonderful collaboration between actor and director that so vividly
and poignantly brings this character to life.
1965 was a career year for Julie Christie; she received the Oscar for Best
Actress for her work in `Darling,' yet in this film created an even more
enduring and memorable character in Lara (aided in no small part by the
hauntingly lovely `Lara's Theme,' by Maurice Jarre, which indelibly etched
Christie/Lara in the consciousness of `Zhivago's vast, international
audience). Lara's beauty is obvious, yet of a kind that goes much deeper
than what you see on the surface; her station in life has made her
vulnerable to misuse, but at the same time has endowed her with a strength
born of necessity. And Zhivago sees in her a quality and a resourcefulness
that fulfills his romantic notions of perfection, and with a beguiling
screen presence and a performance to match, Christie makes those notions
credible and believable.
Guinness, Richardson and Courtenay are exceptional in their respective
roles-- Lean without question knows how to get the best out of his actors--
and also turning in noteworthy performances are Siobhan McKenna (Anna), Rita
Tushingham (The Girl) and Klaus Kinski, who is unforgettable as Kostoyed,
manacled and designated for forced labor, yet the `Freest man on this
train!' One of Lean's greatest films. 10/10.
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