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
Although publicity material said that the Moscow set built in Canillas was half a mile long, the actual length of the street with tram line was merely 160 meters. To make this short street look longer, they built it on a slope, made the street narrower at the end, and made the height of the buildings shorter there. These are the standard procedures in building movie sets. In addition, David Lean allowed to take photos of the set only with wide lenses not to reveal the actual size. See more »
Lean obviously tried very hard to recreate accurately the period of the story. Unfortunately he commits a mistake very common in historical movies from since the Silent Era: the women wear hair and makeup that is not right for the movie's historical era, but which belongs instead to the mid 1960s, the time the movie was made. See more »
What I want to know is how we're going to stay alive this winter.
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You really do miss something when you see a formatted version of Doctor Zhivago as I recently did. This is the kind of film that was made literally for the big screen. It's what epic movie making is all about.
I also think that you should see this on the big screen back to back with Warren Beatty's Reds. Two very opposite views of the Russian Revolution, one from the inside and one from the outside. You could have a very interesting discussion on which is which.
The title character, played by Omar Sharif, is Dr. Yuri Zhivago who is both doctor and poet. He was orphaned as a child and raised in the house of Ralph Richardson and Siobhan McKenna. He marries their daughter, Geraldine Chaplin who of course he loves, but naturally like a sister.
The real passion of his life is Julie Christie who is married to a committed Bolshevik in Tom Courtenay. Courtenay is also a guy, with shall we say, some issues. She loves him in her own way though and goes to search for him when he volunteers for the army to subvert it as the Bolshevik plan was when Russia entered World War I.
Christie meets Sharif at the front and the passion ignites. But all around them the society they knew and were brought up in is crumbling about them. Their story set against the background of the Russian Revolution is what Doctor Zhivago is all about.
Zhivago knows change was inevitable, the old order in Russia was ready to be toppled. But he's a poet and not one to let his art be subverted for the sake of the state. Fortunately he's also a doctor and his services are needed, in fact the Bolsheviks rather brutally insist on his accompanying one of their brigades as a medical officer.
I still remember as a lad the acclaim Boris Pasternak's novel got world wide when it was published while being banned in his home land. After winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, Pasternak died shortly thereafter. It's a pity he did not live to see this film, I think he would have approved.
From the deserts of Arabia to the steppes of Russia, David Lean certainly knew how to direct a film that involved vastness. Yet the people of his stories be it Lawrence of Arabia or Doctor Zhivago never get lost in the spectacle. Lean makes you care about the characters that Pasternak created, you get involved in the romance of Sharif and Christie, you want to know if they'll make it in this country undergoing revolutionary convulsions.
Other performances of note are Alec Guinness as Sharif's half brother Yevgeny Zhivago, a committed Bolshevik himself and Rod Steiger as the opportunistic Komorovsky.
Doctor Zhivago won a host of awards in several technical categories, strangely enough it wasn't nominated for Best Picture in 1965 though. It is a classic and even now with the Soviet Union a memory, I doubt if even a Russian made remake of Zhivago could equal what David Lean and his wonderful cast gave us in 1965.
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