Doctor Zhivago


Doctor Zhivago

Critics Consensus

It may not be the best of David Lean's epics, but Dr. Zhivago is still brilliantly photographed and sweepingly romantic.



Total Count: 46


Audience Score

User Ratings: 45,717
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Movie Info

Based on the Nobel Prize-winning novel by Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago covers the years prior to, during, and after the Russian Revolution, as seen through the eyes of poet/physician Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif). In the tradition of Russian novels, a multitude of characters and subplots intertwine within the film's 197 minutes (plus intermission). Zhivago is married to Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin), but carries on an affair with Lara (Julie Christie), who has been raped by ruthless politician Komarovsky (Rod Steiger). Meanwhile, Zhivago's half-brother Yevgraf (Alec Guinness) and the mysterious, revenge-seeking Strelnikoff (Tom Courteney) represent the "good" and "bad" elements of the Bolshevik revolution. Composer Maurice Jarre received one of Doctor Zhivago's five Oscars, with the others going to screenwriter Robert Bolt, cinematographer Freddie Young, art directors John Box and Terry Marsh, set decorator Dario Simoni, and costumer Phyllis Dalton. The best picture Oscar, however, went to The Sound of Music. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Omar Sharif
as Yuri Zhivago
Rod Steiger
as Komarovsky
Tom Courtenay
as Pasha/Strelnikov
Alec Guinness
as Yevgraf/Gen. Zhivago
Ralph Richardson
as Alexander Gromeko
Emilio Carrer
as Mr. Sventytski
Wolf Frees
as Comrade Yelkin
Bernard Kay
as Bolshevik
Geoffrey Keen
as Prof. Boris Kurt
Klaus Kinski
as Kostoyed
Gwen Nelson
as Comrade Kaprugina
Adrienne Corri
as Amelia Guishar
Luana Alcaniz
as Mrs. Sventytski
Tarek Sharif
as Yuri (age 8)
Gérard Tichy
as Liberius
María Martín
as Gentlewoman
Mercedes Ruiz
as Tonya (age 7)
Erik Chitty
as Old Soldier
Mark Eden
as Young Engineer
Brigitte Trace
as Streetwalker
Lili Murati
as Raddled Woman
Catherine Ellison
as Raped Woman
Maria Vico
as Demented Woman
Dodo Assad Bahador
as Dragoon Colonel
Peter Madden
as Political Officer
Roger Maxwell
as Beef-Faced Colonel
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Critic Reviews for Doctor Zhivago

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (14)

  • Despite the grim and brooding background, Zhivago has a surging buoyant spirit that is unquenchable. Doctor Zhivago is more than a masterful motion picture; it is a life experience.

    Dec 22, 2016 | Full Review…
  • One of those rare film adaptations which, unless you have already read the book, makes you wonder why anyone ever bothered to make the film at all.

    Apr 29, 2016 | Full Review…

    Richard Roud

    Top Critic
  • Epic seems too small a word for the sweeping ambition and romance of Doctor Zhivago.

    Dec 1, 2015 | Full Review…

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Lean and Bolt pay tribute to a Tolstoyan ambition in Pasternak's samizdat novel, and also to a real contemporary relevance: the story of a suppressed writer.

    Nov 26, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Demands everything from the viewer while offering little in return, with Lean coming across like a despised schoolmaster not wanting to open himself up to his braying students.

    Nov 26, 2015 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Yes it's old-fashioned and sappy. But it's impossible not to swoon.

    Nov 24, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Cath Clarke

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Doctor Zhivago

  • Sep 01, 2015
    A big sweeping production that ensnares the senses. While its narrative focus is on the titular character, the backdrop of the Russian Revolution is its own star, essentially turning the film's sequence of events into an effective 'lovers caught in the apocalypse' type scenario. Immensely entertaining, but lacking the same the powerful narrative catharsis of, say Bridge on the River Kwai, which is no fault of the Boris Pasternak novel.
    Paris S Super Reviewer
  • May 12, 2014
    Epic films were a standout aspect of 1960's cinema. Filmmakers took bold risks in telling a great story with their films; hence the decade had some truly unique films. Lawrence of Arabia was one such film, another one was Doctor Zhivago, both films were directed by filmmaker David Lean, who seemed more at ease with himself directing big,, ambitious movies, therefore his work Has been some of the finest in the cinematic medium. His work would only be matched by other filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick and Sergio Leone, and the way he made a film elevated the medium to new possibilities. My favorite film of Lean's will always be Lawrence of Arabia, but with Doctor Zhivago, he crafts another grand epic that is brilliantly directed and acted. The story is set amidst the First World War as well as the Russian revolution, and it's a love story, but the way it's crafted is superb. This is a long film, and I do feel that it could have been shortened slightly. I would say that because of this, David Lean might be an acquired taste, but to those who want n epic picture to watch, Doctor Zhivago is one of the classics in the genre, but personally, I don't think it's Lean's best, like I said, I think Lawrence of Arabia is his finest film, and he delivers something great with that one, but here he nonetheless does some good work, and he manages to craft another worthwhile epic. I loved the film, but like I said, maybe Lean could have cut his film down a bit, as three plus hours of storytelling is a bit much. Doctor Zhivago is a great accomplishment, but it's not a film that demands repeat viewers due to its length, in other words it's hard to get into, and it's not a film that has much action, because it focuses more on its performances, storytelling and it's one of those movies that takes its time for the story to unfold. I would recommend this movie to viewers that enjoy a long, ambitious film, and if you don't mind a long picture, this is worth seeing. With a great story at hand and phenomenal cast of talented actors, David Lean's crafts a great picture that reigns as one of cinema's finest works.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Jan 09, 2014
    From a story perspective, the film is your relatively standard "sweeping romantic epic set against the backdrop of real history" but David Lean directs the hell out of it, per usual. There are too many amazing shots to count and the cast is fantastic from Omar Sharif right down to those that only have a few lines (Klaus Kinski is unforgettable even in a tiny part). I'm still not sure why it was blasted by critics in it's day, but I suspect that they wanted this film to fail because of Lean's past successes. Upon noticing a weaker narrative structure and a love story they began a feeding frenzy of nitpicking criticisms.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 08, 2012
    The biggest problem that "Doctor Zhivago" has it that it feels long just for long's sake; as though David Lean though that by making it almost two hundred minutes long he would somehow make it more of a masterpiece. Of course, he was wrong, and "Doctor Zhivago" ends up being almost a third longer than it needs to be. It contains some outstanding photography from Freddie Young, worthwhile performances from its actors and some memorable sequences, but some more work should have been done in the editing room. Minus an hour and it would been a more enjoyable film.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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