Winner of 5 Oscar Awards, David Lean's (A Passage to India, Lawrence of Arabia) film has everything going for it. It is based on an epic novel, stars Omar Sharif and Julie Christie, it looks lush, the breathtaking scenery of Russia, and a sweeping romantic score that includes the famous "Lara's Theme". It is a favourite film of many that has stood the test of 45 years.
Yuri (Omar Sharif – Top Secret!, Funny Lady) is a poet/doctor who finds himself in love with two women. On the one hand there is Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin – The Wolfman, The Age of Innocence), his adoring wife. And on the other his mysterious mistress, Lara (Julie Christie – Away From Her, Finding Neverland). Yuri is torn between the vow he made and the passion he feels.
After getting married and having children, Yuri believes that his life will follow the conventional path. But his life is thrown into turmoil by World War I and the Russian Revolution. Everything he cherishes (life, freedom, etc.) is wrested from his during these two wars and nothing is ever the same.
In Lean's hands it seems like a political upheaval makes the perfect partner for an epic romance. He walks that tricky tightrope expertly. Though it sometimes veers off to resemble something like a soap opera, the film will still move everyone who watches it. This director is a pro at handling love stories and especially those that are forbidden ones.
It doesn't hurt when your two leads are Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. Julie Christie is so beautiful in the film it is almost as if she glows. Omar Sharif is as noble looking as ever. When you add in a supporting cast that includes Sir Alec Guinness and Rod Steiger how could you miss? They all make the characters come alive.
The cinematography is beyond compare. Everything looks amazing. You can feel the cold off the frozen tundra in Siberia, smell the daffodils in the spring and get caught up in the views of the Urals.
The story moves along slowly allowing us to take time to absorb what is happening. It allows us to examine the choices made and think about what we would have done in similar circumstances. It really engages and allows you to become involved.
This is one of the rare times where you might like the movie better than the book. A film full of life and passion.
-New commemorative two-part 45th-anniversary retrospective "Doctor Zhivago: A Celebration"
-"Doctor Zhivago: The Making of a Russian Epic"
-Gallery of vintage featurettes, including press interviews and a Geraldine Chaplin screen test