Doctor Zhivago

Four out of five stars.

A 4k restoration at the BFI and  – wow! – does it deliver.

David Lean’s 1965 epic  literally jumps off the screen with stunning cinematography by the great Freddie Young.

Sure the narrative is clunky at times and you can feel the compression of events from the source material in particular during the last 30 minutes. Characters come and go, but some of these re-appearances are most  welcome. I’d really forgotten what a great screen presence Rod Steiger is and he re-energises the film when he emerges out of the snowy shadows in one of the last sections of the film.

I think Doctor Zhivago has been unfairly criticised over the years. A new review on ‘Little White Lies’ describes it  as ‘like wading through beautifully lit custard’. And noticeably ‘unlean’.

But these criticisms are very harsh.

Sure it’s no ‘Kwai’ or ‘Lawrence’, but those wonderful images stay with you. Dersmullen described them as ‘painterly. It’s a good description.

And then there’s Julie Christie as Lara.

The Film Notes at the BFI described how Lean became obsessed with the desert when making ‘Lawrence’ and likewise with Julie Christie  when he directed ‘Zhivago’.

This filmgoer understands why.




2 thoughts on “Doctor Zhivago

  1. I caught up with Nurse Jackie, The Affair, Elementary, Supergirl and even Alar Carr, Chatty Man. Call me a pleb but I think I know what I preferred doing. And if you say watch dumb crappy TV then you are absolutely spot on.


  2. Patron I would always defend your right to play TV catch up. But I do urge you to watch the last two episodes of Who. Capaldi is at the top of his game.


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