on March 1, 2006
While I will always love David Lean's 1965 film version of Boris Pasternak's Noble Prize-winning novel, this two-part British miniseries has a lot going for it. First of all, it is more intimate, and includes many smaller characters from the novel that Lean's film did not. And the love story between Lara and Pasha, so lovingly detailed in the novel, also gets its turn to take center stage. Keira Knightely is a beautiful, strong and talented actress, and she had some big shoes to fill, but she more than holds her own. Hans Matheson is gorgeous, although sometimes he seems a bit too broody, and it's a bit hard to understand why he would give up his sweet and lovely wife, Tonya (the luminous Alexandra Maria Lara) for his former nurse/helper. I have to say that Kris Marshall is cute and excellent as Pasha, the young revolutionary, whose love for Lara and jealousy towards the despicable Victor Komarovsky (the appropriately slimy Sam Neill), leads him to join the army and ultimately, become Strelinkov. I especially liked the references to him made by Lara later and the meeting at Varykino between Yuri and Pasha, the two men in Lara's life. Again, this is true to the novel, as is Yuri's childhood friend Misha's (the hot and handsome Daniel Liotti) secret, longing passion for Tonya. The affair between Komarovsky and Lara succeeds in being both fascinating and repulsive and the same time. These love stories, along with the upheaval caused by the revolution and WW1, make for excellent viewing. Of course, people have been complaining about the lack of Russian accents or dialogue, and the brief nude scenes involving Lara and Tonya, since Keira Knightley was still a minor when the movie was shot. Please, it's so brief you'll only notice if you zoom in and pause. It's not as explicit as some movies out there. The only complaint I have is regarding the ending. First of all, Yuri and Lara's child was a girl, not a son, named Tanya, after Yuri's wife. And Tonya was not killed, she moved to Paris with her father and her children, son Sasha and daughter Masha (whom Yuri never meets), and Yuri remarries a woman named Marina. And Komarovsky, who succeeds in possessing Lara again, deliberately leaves little Tanya in a burning street, she is lost, and Lara spends the last part of the novel searching for her. The character of Yevgraf, who was Yuri's half brother, doesn't figure here, but he was an important role in both the novel and the 1965 film. The original film ends with Yevgraf having located the daughter, and learning that she has an instinctive talent for the balalaika (again, important in the novel and in Lean's film, but not mentioned here). And when Yuri sees Lara again, they are both senior citizens, but I guess that can be overlooked. And nothing was quoted from Zhivago's poetry either!!!!! But, quibbles aside, it is worth seeing, and get out the Kleenex, and compare with the 1965 version, they are both good in different ways. Enjoy, romantics!!!!!!