Doctor Zhivago (1965)

by guest writer

Doctor Zhivago embarks David Lean on a journey that has as background the WWI and the Russian Revolution. As one can expect out of the director’s work, the historical events are punctuated with characters’ dramas in one fine binding picture. The downfall of the Tsarist period is presented in a lyrical manner with powerful scenes such as the devastating slaughter of the demonstrators by the imperial troops, the clash between the communist deserters and the monarch’s army and finally, the long exile of the people being transported by train to the Urals.

But this is not the biggest concern of the movie. Its main subject deals with the emotional involvement of Dr. Zhivago (Omar Sharif) and Lara (Julie Christie) and the private sufferings of a bourgeoisie group. The screenwriter, Robert Balt, has chosen to focus upon the personal dramas instead of concentrating on the social aspect as intended by the author of the book, Boris Pasternak. A plus for the movie’s direction are also the decor and the colour cinematography, which is marvelous. The pairing of Omar Sharif and Julie Christie is most unforgettable, as are the the Oscar winning musical score by Maurice Jarre and costumes, especially Lara’s, creating an incredible depiction of the period’s fashion and helping the plot advance, from the opulent ones at the beginning of the film to the contrasting ones in the latter part when poverty and communism take over.

photos: stills from the film; production credits

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