Monday, September 17, 2012

Movie of the Week – Doctor Zhivago

This week’s movie is Doctor Zhivago (1965).

The romantic epic, set during the Bolshevik Revolution, is about Yuri, a young doctor/poet who is torn between his love of two women – his wife Tonya and compatriot/muse Lara, who he connects with during the war. The film is the last in what I call director David Lean’s brilliant epic trilogy (with The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia – all three of which are considered among the 50 greatest Hollywood films). While he made additional epics, like Ryan’s Daughter and A Passage to India, they are not quite of the same quality as these three. Lean brought back his crew from Lawrence of Arabia for the film, including composer Maurice Jarre (whose score was incredibly popular during the film’s release, especially Lara’s Theme), cinematographer Freddie Young, production designer John Box, and screenwriter Robert Bolt. The cast is fantastic as well, featuring Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness, and Tom Courtenay. Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director, the film won four Oscars including art direction, cinematography, music, writing, and costume design. Surprisingly, the film was highly criticized by film critics upon its release, and did not do well commercially either initially. However, the piece of music Lara’s Theme from the film was very popular and spurred on moviegoers into theaters and the film found its audience. As of 2010, inflation adjusted, it is the eighth highest grossing film of all-time. And, it is critically acclaimed today, sitting at number 39 and 27 respectively on AFI’s and BFI’s greatest 100 films lists. Doctor Zhivago is a must-see for fans of cinema and David Lean’s epics. Check out the trailer.

Available on Blu-ray, DVD and Streaming

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