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.