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Doctor Zhivago (TV Miniseries)

4.2 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A man torn between two women amid the chaos and brutality of the Russian Revolution
One of the world’s most famous love stories and half a century of Russian history come to life in this adaptation of Pasternak’s masterpiece by celebrated screenwriter Andrew Davies (Bridget Jones’s 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

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

Special Features

  • Complete UK broadcast edition
  • 70 minutes of cast and crew interviews
  • Photo gallery
  • Boris Pasternak biography

Product Details

  • Actors: Keira Knightley, Sam Neill, Hans Matheson, Bill Paterson, Celia Imrie
  • Directors: Giacomo Campiotti
  • Writers: Andrew Davies, Boris Pasternak
  • Producers: Alison Barnett, Andy Harries, Anne Pivcevic, Giovanna Arata, Hugh Warren
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: November 4, 2003
  • Run Time: 225 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000C2IQG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,403 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Doctor Zhivago (TV Miniseries)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Darren Harrison VINE VOICE on November 22, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It may be somewhat sacrilegious to admit this, but I actually prefer this production to the David Lean classic. That is an admission however that I do not take lightly, the Lean version having left an indelible impression on my younger life and the beautiful Lara's Theme having haunted me since I first saw the original version on television back in the 1980s.
No, when I sat down to watch this 2002 adaptation of the Boris Pasternak epic I was all prepared to be both disappointed and resistant to a newer version of the Omar Sharif/Julie Christie favorite - so what happened? Why am I now sitting here so impressed and involved in what should by all accounts be a poorer step child to the colorful, star-filled 1960s movie.
Simply put this movie has the advantage of time. A whole hour longer than the other movie that extra time gives the production of filling in some of the blanks that inhabited the original and more fully exploring the human relationships and interaction between characters. Matheson may not have the acting ability of Sharif but what he does have is the opportunity to more fully realize the character of Zhivago. In this sense this movie is more faithful to the source material and all the better for it.
Matheson plays the part of Zhivago, a man brought up in the shadow of tragedy who feels the pull of loyalty to his wife (and childhood friend) Tonya and a deep infatuation for Lara. With the violence of World War I and the Russian Revolution as a backdrop, Zhivago travels through life torn by conflict.
Less colorful than the original this mini-series compensates with a strong, well defined script and some star turning peformances by Sam Neill and one-time Bond girl Maryam D'Abo (as Lara's mother).
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have never read the book by Boris Pasternak nor have I seen the original 1965 movie (I plan on reading the book and renting the David Lean version soon, though). That said, I loved it! I was really impressed by Keira Knightley's performance, especially as she was only 16 or 17 at the time. Hans Matheson plays the torn poet/physician to perfection. (Other reviewers who panned the two leads must have a different standard of acting than I have...they were great in my book.) Yury Zhivago and Lara cross each other's path three times b/f they work side-by-side as doctor and nurse during the end of WWI and the onset of the Russian Revolution. Lara peers into the window of a cafe where Yury is sitting with Tonya and his friend, Mischa (the three friends are discussing the nature of love and whether or not it can be analyzed); the future lovers' eyes meet and they exchange smiles. Their second meeting is more dramatic. Dr. Zhivago resuscitates Lara's mother after she attempts suicide. Their third meeting is the most dramatic. Before the Revolution, Lara tries to avenge the seedy Komarovsky, who has misused her. She interrupts an aristocratic party that Yury attends by storming in and firing at Komarovsky; unfortunately, she misaims. Boris Pasternak penned a villain we love to hate in the character of Komarovsky: an opportunist without much of a conscience. His urbane mannerisms do little to compensate for his complete want of emotional intelligence or integrity. Lara feels defiled by the same man who was only a short while ago her mother's lover. When she tries to break with Komarovsky, he won't let her, and from then on, he unrelentingly pursues her.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
Interesting to see all the harsh criticism of the Masterpiece Theatre version of Pasternak's luminous novel DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. Though the 4 hour miniseries now on DVD did not have the wide-angle sweep of David (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA) Lean's epic favorite film (and who can ever forget the sweeping scenes of fields of daffodils, majestic sleigh rides, the ice coated palace-like retreat for Yuri and Lara, etc), this version somehow seems more intimate with more credible character portrayals of the survivors of the wanton confusion of a country which in a matter of a few years passed from the end of the Tsars through destructive revolution and heinous crimes to the gray, bland period of communism.
Hans Matheson relies more on the poet aspect of Yuri Zhivago than the towering hero of his physician nature. Keira Knightly finds more of the innate sense of innocence lost in her Lara. Alexandra Maria Lara finds more credible and three dimensional humanity in Yuri's wife Tonya. Sam Neill takes away the one-sided villain (as Rod Steiger portrayed him in the Lean film) of Komarovsky and shows how a man of such cruelty can still believeably attract not only women but the trust of idealistic men.
The battles are realistically presented, the Urals are magnificently portrayed, the devastation of Yuri's home in Moscow transformed into a grimy ghetto is well shown. For this viewer the story was told more through the eyes of Yuri as Poet - a bit idalistic but at the same time living life for the moment and enduring decisions harsh under anyone's criteria to follow both passion and duty. In the end, Pasternak's story is so profound and sensitive that it would be difficult to demean his intentions. See, and enjoy, both versions.
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