Doctor Zhivago (1965)
Release year: 1965
Director: David Lean
Writers: Robert Bolt, Boris Pasternak (novel)
Starring: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness, Tom Courtenay, Ralph Richardson
Ratings: 5 Oscars: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score. 5 Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Tom Courtenay), Best Director, Best Sound, Best Film Editing. 5 Golden Globes: Best Picture Drama, Best Director, Best Actor Drama (Omar Sharif), Best Screenplay, Best Score. 1 Golden Globe nomination: Most Promising Newcomer – Female (Geraldine Chaplin).
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #86, week 5 2016
Despite being married to Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin) physician and poet Zhivago (Omar Sharif) falls deeply in love with Lara (Julie Christie) who he meets during the war. Through the years we follow Zhivago and Lara’s attempt to find happiness before the war, survival during and a way to live with the aftermaths of the war.
David Lean’s (The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957) epic adaption of the Russian Revolution is very character-centered but not very character-driven with the focus being on the incidents happening to the people in the movie. As the revolution breaks out we watch the effect it has on people, how it changes them, and their lifes, all brought forward through great performances from a stellar cast. Sharif, who also worked with Lean on Lawrence of Arabia (1962), is well-casted managing a quite silent part brilliantly with his expressive eyes. He has a calm presence that suits the character. Chaplin (The Three Musketeers, 1973) holds up surprisingly well against much bigger stars here in one of her very first parts where Christie (Fahrenheit 451, 1966) looks beautiful and especially delivers a good performance in the last half of the movie. However, she and Sharif never quite manage to capture a passion great enough to convince. While Guinness (Star Wars, 1977) and Courtenay (The Golden Compass, 2007) are both brilliant, with particularly Courtenay giving an intense performance, it is Steiger (On the Waterfront, 1954) who is blessed with the more complex part as the ruthless Komarovsky who influences the lifes of both Zhivago and his beloved Lara with his selfish acts. The movie is beautifully shot, perfectly capturing the vast beauty of winter-clad Russia, as well as the devastation of war and the Oscar winning music by Maurice Jarre is fantastic, but while it is wonderful how the story is never rushed, giving time for the story to breathe, it does at times seem like it has a passivity where the emotions are kept too much at bay and moves from one big life event to another with less passion than could be hoped for. However, there is no way around this being a stunning masterpiece and a sweeping romance, it is just not the best Lean has made.
Both the novel and the movie was banned in Russia where it wasn’t shown until 1994.
The young Zhivage at the beginning of the movie was played by Omar Sharif’s son Tarek Sharif.
The inside of the ice palace was mostly made of specifically formed wax.
Picture copyright: SF Film