According to Wikipedia, “Doctor Zhivago is a British 1965 epic drama–romance film directed by David Lean, starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. The film is loosely based on the famous novel of the same name by Boris Pasternak. It has remained popular for decades and as of 2013 is the eighth highest-grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation…. Despite being a spectacular box office hit, Doctor Zhivago received mixed reviews at the time of its release. It was criticized for its length and overly romantic…. and almost at the level of soap opera, with the (in their view) syrupy Lara’s Theme at the top of their complaints.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Yd2PzoF1y8.
Although the movie is long and romantic, I disagree that these are flaws. It reminds me of the greatest epic film of all time, Gone with the Wind, another long movie that had its share of romance. And I have such nostalgia for Lara’s Theme because Aneta’s high school choir sang the beautiful, not syrupy, song for many years.
The historical setting for Dr. Zhivago is Russia between its Revolution of 1905 and WWII, and its depiction of the communist takeover seems quite similar to Ayn Rand’s description of the socialist takeover of America in Atlas Shrugged. In an amazing coincidence, both dystopian novels by native Russians were published in 1957, but I have not been able to find any online discussion that contrasts these books. As a conservative, I believe both books make a compelling argument against governments that minimize individual self-reliance.
Rotten Tomato critics score Dr. Zhivago at 85% and the audience gives it 84%. I think it is a bit better and give it four stars out of four. As I previously blogged, modern audiences seem to prefer “difficult men” as the protagonists, but for a change of pace I thoroughly enjoyed having two truly good protagonists dealing with life in difficult times.