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325 of 333 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2002
Both Boris Pasternak's extraordinary novel and David Lean's magnificent film version are among my favorites of all-time. The story is basically about a poet/physician (Omar Sharif) who loves two women--his adoring wife, Tonya (Geraldine Chapin), and his enigmatic mistress, Lara (Julie Christie)--through the events of World War I and the Russian Revolution.
Robert Bolt's screenplay balances the political upheaval with exquisite, heartwrenching romance--one of the few films to succeed at this level. Lean, who seemed to make a specialty of making films about illicit love (Brief Encounter, Summertime, etc.), also works a tightrope, giving the film the necessary grandeur and sweep required for an epic while never losing sight of the intimacy of the characters. He is aided considerably by a magnificent cast: Sharif, despite or perhaps because of his Egyptian background, provides the perfect perspective of an individual observing things around him, each time as if it were new--it's a wonderful performance; Christie is simply luminescent; Chaplin nicely understated; and there's terrific support from Alec Guinness, Rod Steiger, Tom Courtney, etc.
What makes Zhivago a must on DVD is the awe-inspiring cinematography of Freddie Young, who deservedly won the Academy Award. I was lucky to see Zhivago at a theater, on the big screen proper, several years ago when it was re-issued; unbelievably, the DVD transfer here is even BETTER!!! There are shots in this film that are simply jaw-dropping beautiful.
Doctor Zhivago is, like the book it's based on, a challenging film that will reward the viewer with one of their most extraordinary cinematic experiences.
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133 of 139 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2000
This is one of the rare times when I actually liked the movie more than the book. Omar Sharif, Julie Christie and Rod Steiger, especially, are just wonderful in David Lean's adaptation of Pasternak's epic love story. The script was beautiful and lacked nothing; the actors couldn't have done a better job at delivering their lines. It was extremely well paced and never lagged or felt rushed. Maurice Jarre's haunting score is just beautiful and weaves throughout the movie like a tapestry. The cinematography is beyond compare. The views of the Urals, the frozen Siberian tundra and the countryside in springtime (especially the daffodils!) will never be forgotten. In my opinion, one of the greatest movies ever, never to be forgotten.
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81 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 1999
I'm an avid movie watcher and when I heard my English teacher recommend this one while reading "Animal Farm", I just had to see it. I rented it, thinking it would be some ordinary movie. Little did I know it was a masterpiece. The academy award winning music score by Maurice Jarre was brilliant (I rushed out and bought the soundtrack). It caught every moment of the movie and added lovely Russian sounds (the balalaika was wonderful) in with it. One can not forget the beautiful & famous "Lara's Theme." The cinematography took my breath away, from showing the vast frozen tundra to the Ural Mountains rising out of the plains. The story was another well done point. It was intelligent and captivating. The acting was superb, the actors made the wonderful characters of Pasternak's novel come alive. All around it is one of the best movies ever made, period. I also learned a lot of historical facts, that helped with a report. The second time I watched it, I rented the 30th Anniversary Letterbox Edition. The theatrical preview and Omar Sharif were interesting before- try seeing that edition.
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109 of 124 people found the following review helpful
Film making at its finest!

Boris Pasternak's acclaimed novel could not have been portrayed any more beautifully on screen than in this epic movie drama. The bitterly cold landscape of Russia in the winter contrasts sharply with the fires burning within the characters. Omar Sharif and Julie Christie are magic together. The snowy scenes and sweeping scenery display an unequaled knowledge of cinematography. The popular music is instantly recognizable and winds its way through the movie, making the score all the more emotive.

Every scene in this movie feels real. Omar Sharif and Julie Christie along with the rest of the cast, make this movie so believable, you forget you are watching a movie. You enter their world and become fascinated with their lives. Yuri (Omar Sharif/Dr. Zhivago) is the main character and the story revolves around his passion for Lara (Julie Christie). Through the harsh realities of life during at the time, their lives seem eternally intertwined. Pasha (Tom Courtenay) plays Lara's political activist husband. Victor, an older gentleman, also has a passion for Lara. She is pursued by three men, but only loved by one. These three men, their stories, and the lives of their families fill out the story line in the movie.

The story begins when Dr. Zhivago's brother finds his niece (the daughter of Dr. Zhivago who is a writer/doctor/poet and Lara who becomes the love of his life). The scenes then flash back to the Revolution in Russia. As Red blood spills out onto the white snow, we also see two people needing each other perhaps more then their very life blood. Their desire is only fueled by the fires of the Revolution as they continue to have their lives intertwine in an almost sadistic way. They seem drawn to each other by a magnetic force of passion.

This is story telling at it's finest. Just remember, it is a story and is not meant to revolutionize your thinking on the sanctity of marriage. In desperation to just survive, the characters make many bad judgments. It makes a great story, but is a sad look at character. It is definitely one of the most romantic movies ever made. It will hold your attention for hours and at the end, you will wish it had been a longer movie.

You will love this movie and do look for the Christmas Tree with real candles. I also felt this movie truly brought history to life in a way no book could. Enter the snowy streets of Moscow and be amazed at the ice house in the country. The writers expected the viewer to fill in a few gaps with their own imagination, which makes this movie all the more enjoyable as you are not taken though endless visions of tedium. No moment is wasted. This is the most romantic movie of all time, besides Gone with the Wind.

~The Rebecca Review
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon December 11, 2001
What a wonderful surprise to discover this film as finally been released in the DVD format. Indeed, absolutely no one was a more masterful film maker than David Lean, the British director of such classics as "Lawrence of Arabia", "Bridge Over the River Kwai", "Ryan's Daughter" and, of course, "Doctor Zhivago" (see my reviews of all these films). Lean's cinematography is always spectacular and breathtaking, for he had a special appreciation for how the nature of one's natural surroundings set the stage and influenced the dramatic proceedings. Thus, Lean characteristically focused his films on the ways in which individuals and their personal characteristics clash and meld with the larger social, cultural, and historical surround in which they are located, and so each film is a uniquely captivating study of the specific dynamics of each particular individual situation. Each of these films is also a well-choreographed and photographed excursion into the topography, climate, and landscape of the geographic location in which the drama unfolds. The eyes and ears are always delighted by what Lean displays.
Here the beauty and innocence of nature is constantly contrasted with the ugliness, artificiality, and depravity of man's environs both under the Czar as well as under the brutally repressive communist regime. Omar Sharif turns on a wonderful performance as young Yuri Zhivago, by turns an orphan, poet, and medical doctor sponsored by the family he will soon marry into. The character of Zhivago is that of an unrepentant innocent, a true Russian peasant transported by situation and circumstance away from his rural origins into the bustling aristocracy of Moscow before the October revolution. All Zhivago wants is to immerse himself wholehearted in the life he has made for himself and his family, yet again and again he is forced by circumstance to serve for forces beyond his doorstep. Unfortunately for Yuri, he is caught in a time and place in which such personal extravagance and private self-absorption is no longer tolerated. Indeed, in the violent and tumultuous Russia of the first half of the 20th century, such a private life was impossible.
When war comes, he is pressed into service as a field doctor. Later, after returning to the streets of Moscow, which is in turmoil and difficulty associated with the social changes forced by the Bolsheviks, he decides to escape the political madness by fleeing with the family to the country estate in the Urals. Once there, however, Yuri is forced once more into medical service by the Reds in their running civil ware against the Whites raging throughout Russia. In all this, he collides fatefully with the beautiful Lara, who is played by the very young and beautiful Julie Christie. In their love affair Zhivago finds the emotional inspiration and solace he has sought through all this but has denied himself for the sake of his wife and family. Against this backdrop of the personal odyssey of Zhivago, the events of the Russian revolution and its aftermath are brilliantly depicted. As in all of the Lean movies, the ways in which each character's nature, individual characteristics, and personal foibles project themselves into the larger social circumstances provides the focus of the unfolding story.
The cinematography here is absolutely breath-taking, and the many spectacular action sequences and memorable musical score by Maurice Jarre (for which he received an Oscar) all contribute to make this one of the most popular and memorable films of all time. The cast is wonderful, with terrific performances by Sharif, Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Tom Courteney, Rita Tushingham (as Zhivago's bastard daughter with Lara), and a number of notable others, including a small part by Sir Alec Guinness as Zhivago's half-brother Yevgrav, who acts as the narrator of the film. By the way, the film has aged very well, and as a piece of history and as a piece of popular entertainment it is easily one of the top ten of all time. Enjoy!
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 11, 2010
One reviewer said this was "a gal's movie". I disagree with that reviewer. There are certain movies that are great in a way that they appeal to men and women equally, movies such as "Gone with the Wind", "Casablanca", Titanic", "Lawrence of Arabia", "Doctor Zhivago", "It's a Wonderful Life" -just to name a few. All of these movies have in common many of the same themes that are part of our lives: love, hate, loyalty, fear, our fate. These themes are part of our lives, whether you are a man or a woman. A great movie will appeal to anyone who appreciates a great script, fine acting and beautiful photography. I could watch all these movies again and again, and never get tired of them. I look forward to seeing the Blu-ray version of Doctor Zhivago.
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72 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2010
THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE DR. ZHIVAGO BLU-RAY, BOOK EDITION: I was very excited about this great movie being released on Blu-Ray and the advertised promise of the superb video and audio restorations it would offer. I couldn't wait to watch the movie when I received it from Amazon yesterday on the day of its release and I watched it in its entirety last evening. The video quality is truly excellent, but I could not believe the poor quality of the DTS audio. In order to get the sub-woofer to kick in I had to boost the volume to a level substantially higher than the range I normally use. Admittedly, this is a dialogue intense movie and not much will be going on with the sub, but one would expect a great deal more "punch" when the "drama emphasis" of the music score kicks in and when watching the sound intense action scenes. I have yet to experience this audio issue with any other DTS Blu-Ray disc in my collection and my collection ranges from very new, latest technology movies to select older classic movies such as Dr. Zhivago.

Overall, this movie as a theatrical experience has improved with age and I continue to rate the movie itself as a 5 Star production, including the wonderful music score. And, as another reviewer mentioned, the movie's subject matter has become more relevant when played against the backdrop of today's political events. So, to sum up here, because my review is intended for the Blu-Ray, Book Edition of the movie my 3 Star rating is based solely on the poor quality of the Blu-Ray's DTS audio which very much fails, as promised, to come across as "restored".
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2010
If you know the history of the critics' reaction to this film, you know that it met with many negative reviews. I, for one, am pleased that audiences flocked to it in all-time record numbers. It deserves to be one of the most popular films ever made. The grand scale of the production, combined with the meticulous attention to detail in every shot is utterly awe-inspiring. Many who are accustomed to the movies of today find it slow-moving. With the development of home theater technology and the glorious new Blu Ray edition which recently became available, it can be viewed with dazzling clarity on giant screens. When seen this way by discerning viewers, it will seem to move a lot faster. The reason for this is simple. If you are confronted with its astounding visual splendor, any shots that might seem to linger too long on a smaller screen will engulf you in their visual wondrousness. Still, there are always critics. I have found numerous comments online by those who find this Blu Ray remastering to be, in one way or another, disappointing. Have recently seen the thing blown up on a huge projection screen, I am astounded by these quibbles. The new version is marvelous! That David Lean and all of those who participated in the making of this picture should have succeeded in arriving at such a level of perfection in every aspect of the production will never cease to strike me as a miracle. I've seen dozens of epic scale movies, boasting casts of thousands, but never a single one that demonstrated such meticulous and tasteful devotion to perfecting every detail. For just one example, watch carefully the treatment of the funeral of Yuri's mother. The way the director devised the scene to enter into the psyche of an overwhelmed small boy at such a terrible time in his life, all framed in the exotic scenic and cultural surroundings of its breathtaking location and long-ago period in time, amounts to such a gift to lovers of great motion pictures as can never be repaid.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2001
Voted #36 on the American Film Institutes (AFI) Top 100 Films of the Last 100 Years now comes to the Widescreen DVD format. Doctor Zhivago can only be appreciated & enjoyed on the largest screen available. It's panoramic splendor captures Boris Pastenaks Epic Russian Novel beautifully under the Direction of David Lean (Oscar Winner - Bridge On the River Kwai & Lawrence of Arabia).
Boris Pastenak was a Nobel Prize winner and Russian writer whose books were banned for years. His passionate writings which were romantic & political were popular on the Russian black market.
Then his book "Doctor Zhivago was smuggled out of Russia and published. Almost instantaneouly became a classic, a world-wide bestseller. Doctor Zhivago is a grand story about young passion & romance from the Russian Revolution to WWII involving unforgetable & timeless characters.
Maurice Jarres Oscar winning Musical score introduced us to "Lara's Theme" and the music of the balalaika's errie sound.
This 2 DVD set provides us with a Big Screen digitally remastered transfer that captures this incredible epic in all its splendor & beauty.
Extras are abundant & nice for background information. A lenghty movie 3 1/2 hours which is needed to spin this complex love & polictical story.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2010
I first saw "Dr. Zhivago" as a teenager at a theater in Reno, Nevada, at the height of summer. Despite the heat, I left the movie frozen; the film is so thoroughly Russian that I saw snowfields and ice-covered rivers and lakes for the rest of the day. The vividness consumed your imagination -- especially at the height of the Cold War. Boris Pasternak's novel couldn't even be read in the Soviet Union, yet I could watch a film about it half a world away, in the mini-sin city of Reno.

That distinctly Russian brutality of politics, soul and season has lost nothing with the passage of years. "Dr. Zhivago" is one of the seminal epics, a film of such vastness, beauty, and precision that you fear it might lose something vital when transferred to a new medium, but in Blu-Ray the experience is, if anything, more overwhelming. The sound is certainly better; a theater in 1965 simply can't compare with what you can do in your home in 2010. And the overpowering vistas look even more overwhelming on a modern digital flat-screen TV.

"Zhivago" is a movie about one of those pivot points in history, but it is a subtle history teacher. It doesn't directly talk about how large Imperial Russia was, or how the serfs and workers were repressed, or the titanic, contrasting struggles between imperialists, traditionalists, democrats and communists. It doesn't directly judge who was right or who was wrong. Instead, it focuses on one good-hearted man, a physician, and how he was swept up by, first, World War I, and then the almost endless battles between various factions in post-revolution Russia. Throughout it all, he is an observer, but rarely an active player. He is able to see the value in almost any point of view, but unwilling to direct anyone to see his own point of view. Like most of us, he is a pawn of history.

But a pawn who loves. Loves deeply and matrimonially. Loves deeply and in sin. These loves, at the core of his existence, are what sustain him as Zhivago is buffeted back and forth by horrendous, wrenching, dehumanizing forces. In this, he makes a choice: he remains human.

Nearly a half century after its release "Dr. Zhivago" remains a powerful, beautiful, ugly, intimate and passionate film, and Blu-Ray makes it shine brighter than ever. If you have a desire to see Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger and Alec Guinness at their finest, watch this, and be captivated.
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