Lumpy if sometimes sinfully rich borscht. This sprawling adaptation of Pasternak's epic novel of the Russian Revolution was director Lean's follow-up to his masterful LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. Told in flashback, the film follows Yuri Zhivago (Sharif) and Tonya Gromeko (Chaplin), who meet as
youths when the orphaned Yuri is taken in by Tonya's parents. Eventually Yuri becomes a physician and marries Tonya, but several times during WWI he crosses paths with Lara (Christie), the beautiful daughter of a dressmaker, and the two fall into a passionate affair that is disrupted by the
Unable to maintain a consistent level of interest through its seat-squirmingly long running time, this typically overblown Lean epic is not as exciting or as powerful as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA or THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. Bolt's choppy screenplay leaves out great chunks of Pasternak's novel,
turning the narrative in a bumpy, who-gives-a-damn roller coaster ride in the film's last half. Equally regrettable is the miscasting of Sharif, who had done quite well in LAWRENCE but here contributes a performance with all the sparkle of sawdust. Christie, Steiger, and (to a lesser extent)
Guinness, however, imbue their parts with passion and intensity, and the huge supporting cast is generally fine.
As always, Lean's handling of the purely physical aspects of the material is spectacular, with the scenes of revolution, the harsh Russian winters, and Zhivago's trek across the steppes simply unforgettable. Filmed mostly in Spain and Finland, the cinematography is often stunning even when the
effects are pretentious (e.g. Lean's screen-filling closeup of the inside of a flower). Jarre's jarring score, though much praised at the time for the lilting "Lara's Theme," now seems repetitive and grating enough to make one want to sabotage balalaika factories everywhere.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Lumpy if sometimes sinfully rich borscht. This sprawling adaptation of Pasternak's epic novel of the Russian Revolution was director Lean's follow-up to his masterful LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. Told in flashback, the film follows Yuri Zhivago (Sharif) and Tonya G… (more)