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Drama - Historic, Drama - Romantic

Dr Zhivago (1965)


Duration 3h 13m Rating (UK) A
Source of story A book of the same name by Boris Pasternak publiched in the West in 1955.
Director David Lean
Writers/Script Robert Bolt
Starring Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Alec Guiness, Tyom Courtney, Ralph Richardson, Rita Tushingham, Klaus Kinski, Geoffrey Keen, Ingrid Pitt

Elevator Pitch: In Moscow before WWI relationships develop. Lara a student, who intends to marry Pasha, a young revolutionary is persuaded to become the mistress of Komarovsky her mother’s lover. Meanwhile Yuri Zhivago, a trainee doctor and poet marries his cousin Tonya. By 1917 Zhivago is a doctor at a field hospital assisted my Laura who has become a nurse and learnt of her husband’s apparent death. Zhivago returns to Moscow to find the family house taken over, so they depart for the family estate, eventually resulting in he and Lara being reunited, but the rise of the Cheka and the continuing civil war, separates them again.

Content: This is a movie containing a lot of sweeping vistas, and some rather puzzling intimacy. Lara appears as a mistress in a red dress, and is raped by Komarovsky (unrealistically). A riot is put down by the Cossack cavalry. There is a lot of train travel over desolate snow covered landscapes. Zhivago’s family live in a cottage on the family estate in the Urals. Various groups of soldiers and refugees treck across the landscape and there are occasional battles. Zhivago’s half brother, now a Checka general, interviews a young woman because he believes her to be his niece.

A View: This movie won five Oscars in the more technical areas and won Best Film at the BAFTAs. It was not much liked by the critics, but possibly due to “Lara’s Theme” was gradually made into a hit by the general public. It cost a lot, but made a fortune. My wife and I were puzzled aspects of the plot. The levels of co-incidence required for Lara and Zhivago to keep meeting in the vast country that is Russia was extraordinary. So we were with the original critics, great scenary but to see it you have to tolerate some doubtful plot lines and wooden acting.

Additional Info: A lot of the film was made in Franco’s Spain. Moscow was built on a film lot in Canillas, now a suburb of Madrid, and the the Zhivago estate was near Soria.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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