Doctor Zhivago Movie Review
In Lean's hands, the book is transformed into a sprawling epic and a lot of the subtlety is removed -- but despite all the lurid images and overdramatic camera work, the result is not as overwrought as one might have expected. After all, Russia is a big place, and communism is a big subject. Fortunately, the screenwriters of yesterday were not as heavy-handed as today's, and often the dialogue is nearly as rich as the costumes and settings.
This movie was probably a model for the Merchant-Ivory genre, but you can't blame it for that. The film can be faulted for its moments of sentimentality -- but there is nothing sentimental about the ending, when Zhivago and Lara are long dead and their daughter is accidentally rediscovered, and her identity restored, at a Siberian power plant. In its own way, this movie is as powerful a political statement as anything in mainstream cinema.
The multi-disc DVD release is appropriately grand for a film of this stature, including commentary from Sharif, Steiger, and David Lean's widow, nearly a dozen documentaries old and new, and a music-only track that lets you savor Maurice Jarre's moving score (if controversial during its creation). Highly recommended for fans and casual moviegoers.
Read me a bedtime story, mommy!