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
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Who are you to refuse my sugar? Who are you to refuse me anything?
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I can't remember the origin of the quote, but I remember it distinctly. A Communist Party official of the Soviet Union, justifying the Bolshevik destruction of Tsarist Russia, told a foreign observer, `If you want to make an omelet, you've got to break some eggs.' The visitor replied, `I see the broken eggs, but Where's the omelet?' Dr. Zhivago is set at the time when the Bolsheviks, feverishly ideological, were creating their socialist state. The epochal drama that unfolds is the age-old question about whether the ends justify the means.
As materialists (matter precedes spirit, not vice versa), the Bolsheviks believed that they had found the holy grail of human progress in Marxism-Leninism, and were now able to assume the reins of history in their own hands. They believed that their violence was not only justified, but necessary, oblivious to the fact that they, too, somehow felt the angel of medieval teleology smiling over their shoulders.
In contrast to the Bolsheviks, Zhivago's ethos, if he had one, was almost identical to Kant's `categorical imperative,' which had just one axiom: treat people as ends in themselves, and not as ends to a mean. There couldn't be a sharper moral contrast.
There's a fabulous scene midway through the movie that highlights the difference in moral attitude. Dr. Zhivago confronts a communist functionary who has ordered the destruction of a village, a hamlet suspected of aiding the Mensheviks by selling them horses. To the Bolsheviks, if you weren't 100 percent behind them, you were a `counterrevolutionary,' sorta like Dubya's idea that you're either for us, or against us. And so Strelnikov, the passionate Bolshevik, glibly justifies his actions to Dr. Zhivago as easy as if he were tossing his hair aside, saying that the annihilation of the village, however cruel, is necessary to make a point. Zhivago replies: `Your point; their village.'
I love this film, a timeless epic. If there's a more beautiful heroine in all of movie-making history than Julie Christie (Lara), I'm not aware of it. And Omar Sharif is stunning as Iuri Zhivago, who heals the body with emetics, scalpels, antiseptic, and gauze, while he heals the soul with his poetry. Although the movie is three hours and 20 minutes long, the cinematography is so efficient, evocative, and densely layered that one hardly notices. This is, in my opinion, one of the best films of all time.
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