Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Doctor Zhivago (1965)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
The tale of two people during the Russian Revolution.

Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif) lost his parents at a young age but has since gone on to become a well renowned post and doctor in the years leading up to the First World War. His wife bore their only child, before he was shipped off to war as a medical physician.

Meanwhile, Lara (Julie Christie) begins relations with Komarovsky (Rod Steiger), a master of surviving the changing political landscape, but later moves onto - and marries - Pasha (Tom Courtenay), a revolutionary.

When Pasha is missing in action, Lara goes to find him only to find that her and Zhivago's paths appear to keep intertwining.

Doctor Zhivago is very much like a marathon; horrifically long, when you start you really wonder why you did, in the middle you finally work out what's going on and then finished by the euphoric ending.

The start sees the narrator of the story introduced, and then flits between Zhivago and Lara's individual lives. Because none of these can be focused on wholly, it is desperately confusing and when you realise there are another three hours to go, interest wanes very quickly. Director David Lean also directed The Bridge On The River Kwai which was far easier to get straight into.

As it carries on, and you figure out who is who, the film provides an interesting insight into the Russian Revolution (rarely documented in this Hollywood-dominated era). Granted it is still a fictional story, but the hardships of the time are expertly put across by Sharif and co. and filmed in such harsh winter conditions that it is difficult to not feel sympathetic for the characters' plights.

On the subject of the landscape, it is stunning. Highlights especially are the cross-country train route which sees sweeping mountains dusted with snow, and later when the neglected ice house appears on screen it is truly remarkable. David Lean certainly knows how to mould his set into a perfectly chosen backdrop.

Finally, the ending has a small touch of Citizen Kane about it in its subtlety and nostalgia (albeit on a much less grand scale) finishing off this epic film with a nice touch.

An utter marathon to watch, but overall it's an enjoyable, picturesque epic.

7 comments:

  1. This was one of my mother's favorite movies (for Sharif no doubt). I never had the inclination to watch it.

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    1. I was surprised that both of my parents had seen it - they never had patience for long movies.

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  2. I have only seen bits and pieces of it, really should sit down and watch the whole movie, because I liked the parts I have seen.

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    1. I know what you mean. Three hours (plus) solid is a bit of a marathon.

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  3. I have yet to see this one but it is certainly on my list of films to watch. Thank you for sharing this post today.

    Good luck with the rest of the challenge :)

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    1. Thanks :). It's definitely worth watching once anyway. There probably isn't enough time in life to watch it twice.

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  4. Hi there,
    Great post.
    I am visiting from the A to Z challenge.
    I had never heard of this film until my daughter was born. We called our daughter Lara as we like the name but have been told by most people in their sixties we should watch this. You described the film beautifully and will look to buy a copy now.
    Thank you
    Mark

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