Sunday, February 14, 2016

AFI Top 100, #39: "Doctor Zhivago" (1965)

Movie Stats:
Released 1965 (USA)
American, Italian & British, in English (some non-translated Russian and French)
Director - David Lean
Stars - Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Alec Guinness, Rod Steiger

Plot Summary:
Set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution, Dr. Yuri Zhivago (Sharif) lives and loves two women: his wife, Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin), and his mistress, Lara (Christie). Guinness co-stars as Yuri’s little-known half-brother, Yevgraf, and Steiger as the arrogant, vile Victor Komarovsky.

Very minor blue language; violence; heavily implied sexy times; rape (beginning of it shown, rest is off-screen).

Bad Stuff:
It’s very long and very slow.

There’s something about the dialogue that didn’t feel Russian to me. I don’t think it’s because most everyone spoke with a British accent (although that was annoying). The sentence structures, the cadence, simply didn’t come across as Russian, and I found it very distracting.

As usual, infidelity is neither romantic nor compelling to me. I pretty much lost interest in Yuri once he crossed that line.

Good Stuff:
I haven’t seen a lot of movies that cover this time period, so that was fairly interesting.

Great performance from Sharif, and Alec Guinness makes everything better.

Much of the cinematography was gorgeous, especially the snowy scenes.

The Verdict:
This movie sidelined my blog for two weeks. My first post of February was supposed to be this review, but I kept putting off watching the movie because I knew it was so long. Do you know how hard it is to commit to watching 197 minutes of a film you never wanted to see to begin with? In the end, I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t wowed by it either. I’d put it in the “lukewarm like” category. That is to say, if someone asked me, “Have you seen Doctor Zhivago?” my reaction wouldn’t be one of disgust but rather something more like, “Yes, I’ve seen it. I don’t feel the need to see it again.” Solid performances all around and excellent cinematography are the highlights, but the length and the slow pace definitely hamper it.

I give it 3 stars.


Patricia said...

We watched this in English class, senior year. It took a week. I read the book on my own and the book is even longer. I had a college friend who said in Bosnia, Dr Zhivago was played every year on TV, like The Wizard of Oz here.

The Filmspotting guys watched this movie in the last year or so. They had been putting it off for years for the same reason you were: 197 minutes! Someone had even sent them a copy and then a reminder email that they'd had the copy for years and it was time. So they blocked out an evening and watched it. Right off, they disagreed about fast forwarding (or not) through the Overture. In the end they both liked it. But I don't think they will be watching again.

balyien said...

Wait, why did you watch the movie in English class but not read the book? Lol.