Doctor Zhivago (1965)
“There are two kinds of women — and you, as we well know, are not the first kind.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Zhivago himself, for instance, is a cipher, with Sharif simply staring out of his liquidy brown eyes most of the time:
… and while it’s clear that Christie’s character (Lara) has gotten herself enmeshed with a sociopathic monster (Steiger), we don’t really understand her back story, including her relationship with Courtenay (whose character is only very loosely limned).
Meanwhile, a major narrative challenge is that Sharif is married to kind Chaplin, and we can’t help disliking him immensely for harming her through infidelity.
While we’re supposed to root for this couple (Zhivago and Lara, who gets her own theme song), we simultaneously feel terrible about it. The gorgeous visuals are the primary reason to check out this phenomenally popular film, which is “the eighth-highest grossing movie of all time”.
Note: Watch for Klaus Kinski in a brief but memorable role as a haunted soldier.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)
One thought on “Doctor Zhivago (1965)”
Rewatch (5/13/22). Not must-see.
I saw this once before, on its release, when I was 10. I wasn’t crazy about it then either (not that 10-year-olds have much critical analysis ability). Several decades later, my opinion hasn’t changed.
I’m fairly familiar with Russian literature by now but Pasternak’s novel is one that I just couldn’t bring myself to tackle. My understanding is that the film brings the massive novel down to the basics. But – as a film, it’s still not all that interesting, outside of a few scenes.
The political backdrop is significantly diluted, which is a shame since that’s a potent element.
Almost all of part 2 is flat and dull.
Overall, a rather inert piece of drama.