John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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Doctor Zhivago is close to or one of the greatest films ever made, and it's definitely one of the greatest British films ever made. A sweepingly beautiful tale.
One of the best movies I have ever seen
A masterful production. Truly a classic.
The oft-lauded classic "Doctor Zhivago" is an epic telling of love, political turmoil, and the woes that the two can conjure up when combined. Little did I know, however, that one of the other woes involved would be this film's running time. Sitting at a weighty three hours and twenty minutes, this at times searing indictment of 20th century Russian politics certainly got its point across. It was a rough time, man. And no one seemed to realize that more than Boris Pasternak (author of the eponymous novel the film is based on). What the film seems to suffer from, however, is a genuine lack of development when it comes to the relationship between the two leads (i.e. what the movie's kind of actually about). We have this running time for a reason, nay, many reasons. And I'd expected one of those reasons to be setting up the underpinnings of this central romance beyond simply stating "oh, well, this one time they were the only two people standing in this one room for a good amount of time and that's how they fell in love." We're given a montage of the two lead characters working together over a longer period of time, yes, but that development is only implied at best. It's a film with a rather shallow and predictable main plot, yet a fairly outstanding look and feel, featuring some typically brilliant cinematography and music throughout. I only wish I'd cared a bit more overall.
The best, GREATEST epic romance movie ever made! With the best movie score ever composed!
A cold romance during a revolutionary period in Russian history.
Doctor Zhivago (1965) is another epic film from master director David Lean. Lean's own direction is impeccable utilizing Lean's famous far wide shots, perspective obscured by glass windows, clever edits, and massive scope. I do think Lean could have edited Doctor Zhivago down, but I cannot hate on an epic film for having a longer length, however. As long as it is, Doctor Zhivago is directed wonderfully by David Lean.
The pace is set at a slow burn, easing out all the emotional damage and depression from each scene. You feel increasingly depressed watching it as each character is more evil and cruel than the last. You witness horrible atrocities such as rape, incest, war, and mass death during the Communist revolution in Russia. Russia has never looked so harsh and cold. The freezing landscape, starving people, murdered protesters, stolen property, oppressed citizens, and ghoulish aristocracy all make Doctor Zhivago feel like you are watching some frozen Hell.
Due to The Soviet Union remaining Communist during the filming of Doctor Zhivago, David Lean had to enlist many English actors and film the whole movie in Spain practically. This leads to the average Russian characters all having a distinctly British accent unfortunately, like the hopelessly out of place Ralph Richardson with his upper class British accent. You should probably just look past this inconvenience as the accents are not that distracting. This also explains why a very German Klaus Kinski makes a neat cameo as a prisoner on a train. His little performance is very fun and crazy as you would expect from Kinski. Lean still captures the cold heartbroken Russian aesthetic with his chilling weather and frozen characters despite the out of place accents.
The film takes on a historical perspective for much of the run time, going from The Czar era of Russia into The Bolshevik Revolution. You see from Zhivago's more privileged lifestyle to his impoverished one how the revolution effected the Russian populace. Richard Bolt wrote Doctor Zhivago by simplifying Boris Pasternak's novel into a bare bones romantic tale set during a tumultuous time in Russian history. Bolt's dialogue is fantastic, but story ends up feeling too simplistic a build up for how long the film takes to establish such feelings.
Oddly, the historical aspects take most of the focus of the narrative, leading the audience away from the love story. I honestly felt that Zhivago and Antipova's romance felt contrived and sudden compared to the host of other subplots within the film. They are sweet together and start to feel genuine eventually, but the film takes too long to get there.
I love the acting in Doctor Zhivago. Omar Sharif gives an outstanding performance as the long suffering Dr. Yuri Zhivago. His pained struggle is something to behold as you constantly wonder whether he will find his family or love again. The moral dubiousness of Zhivago is fascinating unto itself. Zhivago is adulterous and unfaithful, while having lived a life of relative comfort in the bourgeoisie class. Doctor Zhivago is filled with all selfish, unlikable characters that are no moral example with one exception.
That is, Geraldine Chapline's character Tonya. Her character is a sweet innocent victim to Zhivago's envious lust over Lara. He leaves his wife and is separated from her due to no fault of her own. I felt so sorry for Tonya as Chaplin plays her with such a loving kindness and endearing charm. Geraldine Chaplin is certainly the highlight of Doctor Zhivago for me.
Then, Julie Christie is a complicated performance as she acts the part of Lara Antipova perfectly. Her uncertainly is evident and her arousal by the taboo is clear. I just think her character is so easy to hate. She has an affair with a married man, but she is raped, but she also enjoys the sex, but she hates him, but she goes back to him. It's all so awkward, especially when Rod Steiger;s loathsome rapist politician Komarovsky exclaims it's not rape because you liked it! It just feels gross and reactionary. At least, Tara redeems herself by being loyal to Zhivago, but the film takes awhile to get to such tenderness towards the end when they only have each other.
So the romantic elements feel either genuinely tender to strangely contrived and force themselves upon the audience like Komarovsky does to Lara. Doctor Zhivago should have focused in on either the revolution or the romance, as it skips too much to the other to endear both upon us.
On the other hand, the various supporting roles in Doctor Zhivago are excellently acted. Rod Steiger is completely reprehensible as Komarovsky. Alec Guinness is quite likable and out of place as the Communist Lieutenant with another British accent. Tom Courtenay makes for a fiery protester and a fearsome Communist leader.
Lastly, Maurice Jarre delivers one of cinema's finest romantic scores. The music is hypnotic and mesmerizing with every note. Jarre perfectly fit the tone and atmosphere to each scene of longing, lust, or lavish style. His score remains timeless.
Overall, Doctor Zhivago is a classic film that has a few faults. None ruin the film, but I cannot say this is a flawless masterpiece. Doctor Zhivago is still an excellent epic romance film from the peerless director David Lean.
Saw this again last night. Forgot what an incredible piece of cinema it is. Sweeping scenes and fantastic performances. The music by Maurice Jarre is exquisite, too.
i need to watch this at once every year.
great story and great actors - not least Alec Guiness whose voice makes the story so real
While the history may be a bit jumbled and the pacing not as strong as other David Lean films this is still an all time classic. At its best it is an absorbing and sweeping epic with impressive visuals and characters. Worth a watch for any lover of cinema!