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.
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
No wonder the highest directorial achievement for direction of the British Academy of Film and Television is named after David Lean. An artist who knew how to combine great performances, with breathtaking settings, haunting soundtrack, in order to create works of art that are to remain as pillars for the future generations of film-makers.
"Doctor Zhivago" is definitely one of his most outstanding works, a film that breathes with life, and suffers with passion. Neither, though, of the credited people can take as much credit for it, as David Lean. Omar Sharif delivers one of his best performances of his career, Julie Christie has never been as stunning, or Rod Steiger as Komarovsky or Tom Courtenay as Antipov ever left more memorable performances than these ones. Not even Maurice Jarre, who composed one of the most unforgettable themes in film history, or Robert Bolt, for his skillful adaptation on Pasternak's difficult novel, not even Freddy Young's cinematography, can rise above the vibration of genius, which is David Lean. We almost feel the complexity of the universe collapsing on us with a mad power that we instantly become part of it, and fall in love with all its particles.
For those who haven't seen the film, this might make little sense, and it can give a misleading understanding of what one is to expect. "Doctor Zhivago" is a poet, who at the beginning of the 20th Century is caught in the historical Bolshevik revolution. An outstanding doctor, married to his childhood friend, Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin in a warm performance), finds that there is beauty beyond deceit, love beyond commitment, by starting an affair with an enigmatic lady which appears often in his path in the most unnoticeable of moments. Their destiny is as confused as Russia in the turmoil started by the Reds, it is shaped by history without their approval. There is no solution for a country that abandoned its passions in its desire of self-improvement, just as for the two lovers, which find themselves abandoned in the middle of the Siberian taiga.
This is a slow film and for the good reasons. We are allowed to breathe the story, to give it momentum, and to judge it from within, as if the choices were not Yury's, Lara's or Tonya's, but our own creation. And this is the brilliance of Lean's direction. The story transcends time and space, and it melts within the triviality of our life. Beyond it, we are left with nothing but love, pure and blindingly real.
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