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With: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness, Tom Courtenay, Siobhan McKenna, Ralph Richardson, Rita Tushingham, Jeffrey Rockland, Tarek Sharif, Bernard Kay, Klaus Kinski, Gerard Tichy, Noel Willman
Written by: Robert Bolt, based on a novel by Boris Pasternak
Directed by: David Lean
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature themes
Running Time: 200
Date: 12/22/1965

Doctor Zhivago (1965)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Russian Arc

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Just a few years prior, David Lean had directed one of the greatest of all epics with Lawrence of Arabia. With this one, however, he seems out of his element. Perhaps he was more comfortable with British material; this treatment of Boris Pasternak's Russian novel seems airless and out of touch.

The film starts well, with Lean's beautiful, rich sets enclosing upon the characters; consider that blue bottle that pops up in the frame when Zhivago (Omar Sharif) goes on his first house call. But as the war starts, the movie grows sterile; Lean takes a simplistic view of the war as all bad. Zhivago goes off to serve as a medical officer during the Russian Revolution and meets and falls in love with a nurse, Lara (Julie Christie).

After the war, Zhivago and his wife (Geraldine Chaplin) and family flee Moscow and the encroaching communism that has robbed them of their huge house, and he discovers that Lara is living nearby. He fires up a full-fledged love affair, but just after he calls it off -- and just as his wife is about to have a baby -- he's kidnapped to serve as a military doctor once again.

And so on. Oddly, Zhivago is supposed to be a poet, but the movie itself is too controlled for poetry. It's interesting to note that Christie won a Best Actress Oscar that same year, but for the much more vibrant Darling; compared to that, her performance here seems rather thin. Dr. Zhivago was nominated for ten Oscars, and won five, mainly in the technical categories (Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume, Score and Adapted Screenplay). But it was a massive hit. Alec Guinness plays Zhivago's half-brother and Rod Steiger and Klaus Kinski also appear.

Blu-Ray Details: Warner Home Video has released the film in a big, two-disc Blu-Ray set with a hardback book cover. The movie looks amazing, of course, and comes with a commentary track by Omar Sharif, Rod Steiger and Sandra Lean. The main disc also includes a new "celebration" of the movie. Most of the extras are on the second disc, which is a DVD. They include a feature-length documentary and several featurettes, plus a trailer. This also comes with a CD soundtrack "sampler."

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