The miniseries treatment is suited to Doctor Zhivago
, the sprawling Boris Pasternak novel
of a Russian physician-poet whose comfortable life is upended by the Revolution. And this near-four-hour British production lucidly demonstrates that Pasternak was one heck of a storyteller: the torment of Zhivago (Hans Matheson) as he must choose between his well-bred childhood sweetheart (Alexandra Maria Lara, real comer) and the tragically beautiful Lara (Keira Knightley, from Pirates of the Caribbean
) remains compelling. The TV treatment can't match the epic sweep of David Lean's feature film
, of course, with its cast of thousands and astonishing production design. Devotees of that 1965 version will undoubtedly yearn for Maurice Jarre's tinkly hit "Lara's Theme," too; here, Ludovico Einaudi's score is serviceable by comparison. Matheson never gets untracked in the title role, but the uncannily gorgeous Knightley and a supremely decadent Sam Neill (as her dreadful seducer) keep their characters vital. The limitations of the small screen duly noted, the frosty location shooting is handsome. Given the choice, see the Lean film on the big screen every time; but this is sturdy introduction to a classic story. --Robert Horton
A man torn between two women amid the chaos and brutality of the Russian Revolution
One of the worlds most famous love stories and half a century of Russian history come to life in this adaptation of Pasternaks masterpiece by celebrated screenwriter Andrew Davies (Bridget Joness Diary, Pride and Prejudice). War and revolution bring poet and physician Yury Zhivago (Hans Matheson) together with the beautiful Lara (Keira Knightley), his muse and all-consuming passion. But both are haunted--Yury by guilt over his betrayal of Tonya, his beloved wife, and Lara by fear of Komarovsky (Sam Neill), the powerful man who means to have her any way he can.
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE 70 minutes of cast and crew interviews, photo gallery, filmographies, Boris Pasternak biography, English subtitles.
Complete UK broadcast edition
RECOMMENDED FOR MATURE AUDIENCES