David Lean focused all his talent as an epic-maker on Boris Pasternak's sweeping novel about a doctor-poet in revolutionary Russia. The results may sometimes veer toward soap opera, especially with the screen frequently fi... more »lled with adoring close-ups of Omar Sharif and Julie Christie, but Lean's gift for cramming the screen with spectacle is not to be denied. The streets of Moscow, the snowy steppes of Russia, the house in the country taken over by ice; these are re-created with Lean's unerring sense of grandness. The movie is so lush and so long that it becomes an irresistible wallow, even when logic suffers--like Gone with the Wind before it and Titanic after. Sharif, who achieved stardom in Lean's previous film, Lawrence of Arabia, mostly looks noble, but the supporting cast is spiky: Rod Steiger as a fat-cat monster, Tom Courtenay as a self-righteous revolutionary, and Klaus Kinski and Alec Guinness in smaller roles. Geraldine Chaplin, in her adult debut, plays the doctor's compliant wife. Robert Bolt's screenplay won one of the film's five Oscars®, with another going to perhaps the most immediately recognizable element of the movie: Maurice Jarre's romantic music, with its hugely popular "Lara's Theme" weaving in and out of a swooning score. --Robert Horton« less
Joseph C. Jones | Tampa, FL United States | 11/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Both Boris Pasternak's extraordinary novel and David Lean's magnificent film version are among my favorites of all-time. The story is basically about a poet/physician (Omar Sharif) who loves two women--his adoring wife, Tonya (Geraldine Chapin), and his enigmatic mistress, Lara (Julie Christie)--through the events of World War I and the Russian Revolution. Robert Bolt's screenplay balances the political upheaval with exquisite, heartwrenching romance--one of the few films to succeed at this level. Lean, who seemed to make a specialty of making films about illicit love (Brief Encounter, Summertime, etc.), also works a tightrope, giving the film the necessary grandeur and sweep required for an epic while never losing sight of the intimacy of the characters. He is aided considerably by a magnificent cast: Sharif, despite or perhaps because of his Egyptian background, provides the perfect perspective of an individual observing things around him, each time as if it were new--it's a wonderful performance; Christie is simply luminescent; Chaplin nicely understated; and there's terrific support from Alec Guinness, Rod Steiger, Tom Courtney, etc. What makes Zhivago a must on DVD is the awe-inspiring cinematography of Freddie Young, who deservedly won the Academy Award. I was lucky to see Zhivago at a theater, on the big screen proper, several years ago when it was re-issued; unbelievably, the DVD transfer here is even BETTER!!! There are shots in this film that are simply jaw-dropping beautiful.Doctor Zhivago is, like the book it's based on, a challenging film that will reward the viewer with one of their most extraordinary cinematic experiences."
A Tragic Love Story in the deep of winter!
Rebecca Johnson | Washington State | 01/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Film making at its finest!
Boris Pasternak's acclaimed novel could not have been portrayed any more beautifully on screen than in this epic movie drama. The bitterly cold landscape of Russia in the winter contrasts sharply with the fires burning within the characters. Omar Sharif and Julie Christie are magic together. The snowy scenes and sweeping scenery display an unequaled knowledge of cinematography. The popular music is instantly recognizable and winds its way through the movie, making the score all the more emotive.
Every scene in this movie feels real. Omar Sharif and Julie Christie along with the rest of the cast, make this movie so believable, you forget you are watching a movie. You enter their world and become fascinated with their lives. Yuri (Omar Sharif/Dr. Zhivago) is the main character and the story revolves around his passion for Lara (Julie Christie). Through the harsh realities of life during at the time, their lives seem eternally intertwined. Pasha (Tom Courtenay) plays Lara's political activist husband. Victor, an older gentleman, also has a passion for Lara. She is pursued by three men, but only loved by one. These three men, their stories, and the lives of their families fill out the story line in the movie.
The story begins when Dr. Zhivago's brother finds his niece (the daughter of Dr. Zhivago who is a writer/doctor/poet and Lara who becomes the love of his life). The scenes then flash back to the Revolution in Russia. As Red blood spills out onto the white snow, we also see two people needing each other perhaps more then their very life blood. Their desire is only fueled by the fires of the Revolution as they continue to have their lives intertwine in an almost sadistic way. They seem drawn to each other by a magnetic force of passion.
This is story telling at it's finest. Just remember, it is a story and is not meant to revolutionize your thinking on the sanctity of marriage. In desperation to just survive, the characters make many bad judgments. It makes a great story, but is a sad look at character. It is definitely one of the most romantic movies ever made. It will hold your attention for hours and at the end, you will wish it had been a longer movie.
You will love this movie and do look for the Christmas Tree with real candles. I also felt this movie truly brought history to life in a way no book could. Enter the snowy streets of Moscow and be amazed at the ice house in the country. The writers expected the viewer to fill in a few gaps with their own imagination, which makes this movie all the more enjoyable as you are not taken though endless visions of tedium. No moment is wasted. This is the most romantic movie of all time, besides Gone with the Wind.
~The Rebecca Review"
Joseph C. Jones | 10/17/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm an avid movie watcher and when I heard my English teacher recommend this one while reading "Animal Farm", I just had to see it. I rented it, thinking it would be some ordinary movie. Little did I know it was a masterpiece. The academy award winning music score by Maurice Jarre was brilliant (I rushed out and bought the soundtrack). It caught every moment of the movie and added lovely Russian sounds (the balalaika was wonderful) in with it. One can not forget the beautiful & famous "Lara's Theme." The cinematography took my breath away, from showing the vast frozen tundra to the Ural Mountains rising out of the plains. The story was another well done point. It was intelligent and captivating. The acting was superb, the actors made the wonderful characters of Pasternak's novel come alive. All around it is one of the best movies ever made, period. I also learned a lot of historical facts, that helped with a report. The second time I watched it, I rented the 30th Anniversary Letterbox Edition. The theatrical preview and Omar Sharif were interesting before- try seeing that edition."
A BEAUTIFUL AND HEARTBREAKING LOVE STORY
Joseph C. Jones | 03/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the rare times when I actually liked the movie more than the book. Omar Sharif, Julie Christie and Rod Steiger, especially, are just wonderful in David Lean's adaptation of Pasternak's epic love story. The script was beautiful and lacked nothing; the actors couldn't have done a better job at delivering their lines. It was extremely well paced and never lagged or felt rushed. Maurice Jarre's haunting score is just beautiful and weaves throughout the movie like a tapestry. The cinematography is beyond compare. The views of the Urals, the frozen Siberian tundra and the countryside in springtime (especially the daffodils!) will never be forgotten. In my opinion, one of the greatest movies ever, never to be forgotten."
A true classic epic !
L. Da Vinci | New York, NY | 03/12/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One reviewer said this was "a gal's movie". I disagree with that reviewer. There are certain movies that are great in a way that they appeal to men and women equally, movies such as "Gone with the Wind", "Casablanca", Titanic", "Lawrence of Arabia", "Doctor Zhivago", "It's a Wonderful Life" -just to name a few. All of these movies have in common many of the same themes that are part of our lives: love, hate, loyalty, fear, our fate. These themes are part of our lives, whether you are a man or a woman. A great movie will appeal to anyone who appreciates a great script, fine acting and beautiful photography. I could watch all these movies again and again, and never get tired of them. I look forward to seeing the Blu-ray version of Doctor Zhivago."