Run time: 197 mins
In Theaters: Friday 31st December 1965
Box Office Worldwide: $111.7M
Distributed by: MGM
Production compaines: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 28 Rotten: 5
IMDB: 8.0 / 10
Director: David Lean
Screenwriter: Robert Bolt
Starring: Omar Sharif as Dr. Yuri Zhivago, Julie Christie as Lara Antipova, Geraldine Chaplin as Tonya Gromeko, Rod Steiger as Viktor Komarovsky, Alec Guinness as Gen. Yevgraf Zhivago, Tom Courtenay as Pasha, Siobhán McKenna as Anna, Ralph Richardson as Alexander Gromeko, Gérard Tichy as Liberius, Noel Willman as Razin, Liberius' Lieutenant, Jack MacGowran as Petya, Mark Eden as Engineer at dam, Erik Chitty as Sergei, Klaus Kinski as Kostoyed Amourski
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!