DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965) C widescreen 200m dir: David Lean

w/Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness, Geraldine Chaplin, Tom Courtenay, Siobhan McKenna

The prize-winning novel by Boris Pasternak about life in Russia before and during the Russian Revolution has been brought to the screen by the master, David Lean. This mammoth spectacle, filmed partly on location in Spain and Finland, not Russia, is rather long and episodic, but it's an impressive and consistently absorbing story.

From The Movie Guide: "Lumpy if sometimes sinfully rich borscht. This sprawling adaptation of [Boris] Pasternak's epic novel of the Russian Revolution was director Lean's follow-up to his masterful LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. ...

"Unable to maintain a consistent level of interest through its seat-squirmingly long running time, this typically overblown Lean epic is not as exciting or as powerful as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA or THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. [Robert] Bolt's choppy screenplay leaves out great chunks of Pasterkak's novel, turning the narrative in a bumpy, who-gives-a-damn roller coaster ride in the film's last half. Equally regrettable is the miscasting of Sharif, who had done quite well in LAWRENCE but here contributes a performance with all the sparkle of sawdust. Christie, Steiger, and (to a lesser extent) Guinness, however, imbue their parts with passion and intensity, and the huge supporting cast is generally fine.

"As always, Lean's handling of the purely physical aspects of the material is spectacular, with scenes of the revolution, the harsh Russian winters, and Zhivago's trek across the steppes simply unforgettable. Filmed mostly in Spain and Finland, the cinematography is often stunning even when the effects are pretentious (e.g. Lean's screen-filling closeup of the inside of a flower). [Maurice] Jarre's jarring score, though much praised at the time for the lilting 'Lara's Theme,' now seems repetitive and grating enough to make one want to sabotage balalaika factories everywhere."

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO won five Oscars: Best Adapted Screenplay (Bolt), Cinematography (Freddie Young), Score (Jarre), Art Direction (John Box, Terry Marsh, Dario Simoni), and Costume Design (Phyllis Dalton). It was also nominated for Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (Courtenay), Editing (Norman Savage), and Sound (A.W. Watkins, Franklin E. Milton).