Review by Brian Koller|
2½ stars out of 4
"Doctor Zhivago" is a good, if overlong, film
adaptation of the Nobel prize-winning novel by
Boris Pasternak. While not as good as "Bridge
on the River Kwai" or "Lawrence of Arabia", director
David Lean continued his winning streak, as the
film was a commercial success and received ten
"Doctor Zhivago" has the cinematography of an
epic, but the plot of a romance novel. The story
takes place during the Russian Revolution. Young,
idealistic poet/doctor Yuri (Omar Sharif) marries
Tanya (Geraldine Chaplin), but is frequently separated
from her due to war. Lara (Julie Christie) is a
passionate woman mistreated by her lover, world-weary
politician Komarovsky (Rod Steiger).
Lara leaves Komarovsky to marry revolutionary Pasha
(Tom Courtenay), who conducts a brutal campaign against
White insurgents. The storylines are connected as Yuri
and Lara serve together in the war, and have an affair
afterwards. Yevgraf (Alec Guinness) is narrator and
half-brother of Yuri.
"Doctor Zhivago" goes on and on and on for 197 minutes.
This is shorter than "Lawrence of Arabia", but it feels
longer. Dramatic touches are sometimes laughable,
such as Pasha's entrance after Komarovsky has been
shot, the long-expected first embrace between Lara
and Yuri, Yuri's bad luck upon seeing Lara for the
last time, and Yuri's insolence when his life is on
the line (which occurs often).
The theme music, which won an Oscar for Maurice Jarre,
is hummable but repetitive. Robert Bolt somehow won
Best Adapted Screenplay over "Cat Ballou" and "Ship of
Fools". "Doctor Zhivago" deserved its Best Art Direction
Oscar, as the sets are very impressive, especially a
cottage filled with ice formations. As you would
expect from a big-budget Lean epic, the cinematography
(Freddy Young) is good.
While "Doctor Zhivago" is a competent film, it has
been somewhat over-rated over the years. The characters
of Yuri and Lara do not seem real enough to merit
involvement. Still, the film does get across some of
the horrors of war, and the irony of a 'worker's
revolution' becoming just another despotic dictatorship.
Copyright © 1995 Brian Koller