Starring-Julie Christie, Omar Sharif
Top 100 Films-#47
Scott’s Review #42
Reviewed June 18, 2014
Doctor Zhivago is a great film to watch on a cold winter’s night or throughout the crisp winter or holiday season. The film is a classic masterpiece directed by the talented David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, A Passage to India) whose perfectionism is evident in his epic films. Nearly every scene could be a painting so the cinematography alone is reason enough to become enchanted with the work of art. Of course, the story is also a goldmine as a sprawling decades long love story unfolds amid the ravages of the bloody Bolshevik Revolution.
The film is set in the bitter cold of Russia (though in reality all scenes were shot in Spain) and the bitterness of the cold climate and the war are mixed perfectly with a doomed love story set against the backdrop of the many battles and wartime effects. Nearly all sequences are set in the winter so that the blustery and icy effects are nestled magnificently against numerous scenes of cozy, candlelit cabins or more extravagant glowing surroundings. In this way the viewer simply must be surrounded by a fire, flaming candles, or another form of warmth as a snowstorm or blizzard besets outdoors for a perfect viewing experience. And a large screen television or in a cinema is simply a must to watch this film as it is epic on the grandest scale.
Omar Sharif and Julie Christie (a gorgeous star in her day) are cast perfectly as Uri and Lara, young forbidden lovers enthralled with one another but involved with significant others. The film dissects their initial meeting and their story over the years, experiencing marriages, births, and deaths throughout the ravages of Russia in the early twentieth century. Despite their affairs neither is deemed unsympathetic- quite the contrary as audiences will fall in love with the pair and become enchanted as we watch their love-tortured adventures. Sharif and Christie are just magnificent and completely believable as a couple.
The set pieces are magnificent and flawless in design and detail (my favorite is the ice palace). The cinematography is breathtaking and the content is very close to the obviously superior novel by Boris Pasternak and a feeling of “really being there” encompasses the viewer. Doctor Zhivago is quite simply a brilliant film and perfect for a snowy, winter evening.