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A More Intimate Telling of Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago,
This review is from: Doctor Zhivago (TV Miniseries) (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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Initial post: Jul 9, 2016 8:18:19 AM PDT
Russell Fanelli says:
Hello, Grady. As you point out, Pasternak's book is profound; the film is not. If I had not recently read the book, I might have found more to like in this movie. David Lean captured more of the greatness of the book, I think. Best regards, Russell
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