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Monday, April 23, 2012


Not Rated

Doctor Zhivago is a 1965 dramatic epic directed by David Lean that is set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution. It tells the intertwining stories of Yuri (Omar Sharif) and Lara (Julie Christie) as they meet time and again over the course of many years. I would go more into the details of the actual storyline, but if I start describing the plot, this post will ultimately turn into something ridiculously long and drawn-out. All you really need to know is that the film, at its core, is a love story, but by setting it against the backdrop of war, we get something a little more complex.

So you'll have to forgive me in advance if this review proves to be rather short. I'm a little bit drained from this particular movie-going experience, considering the film itself runs for over three hours. It's rare to see movies this long nowadays, but back in the day, they were a little more commonplace.

We receive a very good screenplay that won an Oscar back in 1966, and it takes us through nearly every minute detail of the major experiences lived and suffered by Yuri and Lara. The length of the film gives it the opportunity to delve into such detail, and it definitely does well enough to keep you engaged despite its terribly slow pace. At its heart, we get a rather endearing love story, but when its set against the aforementioned backdrop of war, it's almost as though the romance doesn't necessarily take center stage. At moments, it does, but there are definite times within the film where it's difficult to remember that the core element of the story rests with the ever-growing romance between Yuri and Lara. It's like the 1939 film Gone With the Wind, in a way. That film also has a strong romance at its center, but the backdrop of the Civil War starts to take precedence at certain moments. Substitute the Russian Revolution with the Civil War, and you've got Doctor Zhivago.

We get some great performances from our leads, who do their best to remain strong and even-keeled throughout the film's entirety. With a movie this long, it's difficult to remain consistent throughout, but Sharif and Christie succeed in doing just that. We also get a number of great supporting performances, highlighted by Tom Courtenay, who played Lara's husband Pasha and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role. Rod Steiger also gives a good performance in a limited amount of screen-time. And how could I ever forget the power of our fantastic narrator, played by none other than Sir Alec Guinness. He doesn't appear often, but he's probably the best part of the film by far.

Mention should be given to Maurice Jarre for composing a fantastic score that perfectly sets the mood of the entire piece. The sweeping composition brings a true sense of life to the film, and it's the first thing you'll notice right from the opening credits.

Overall, Doctor Zhivago is a long and drawn-out film that's not the easiest to watch if you tend to get bored easily. However, if you are capable of sitting and devoting your full attention a movie for over three hours - a difficult task in today's tech-savvy environment - then I'm sure you'll find great rewards in watching this particular film.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: A-
1.5 Thumbs Up

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