Doctor Zhivago: Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Omar Sharif as Yuri
Julie Christie as Lara
Geraldine Chaplin as Tonya
Rod Steiger as Komarovsky
Alec Guinness as Yevgraf
Tom Courtenay as Pasha
Siobhan McKenna as Anna
Ralph Richardson as Alexander
Rita Tushingham as The Girl
Jeffrey Rockland as Sasha
Tarek Sharif as Yuri at 8 years old
Bernard Kay as The Bolshevik
Klaus Kinski as Kostoyed
GĂ©rard Tichy as Liberius
Noel Willman as Razin

Directed by David Lean

Special Features:
Commentary By Omar Sharif, Rod Steiger and Sandra Lean

New Commemorative Two-Part 45th-Anniversary Retrospective

Hour-Long Documentary Doctor Zhivago: The Making of a Russian Epic

Gallery of Vintage Featurettes

Theatrical Trailer

Exclusive to this Release: 8-Track Version of the Grammy-Winning Soundtrack Album

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.40:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS-HD MA 5.1
French and Spanish Languages
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 200 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

“Lara inspires lechery in Komarovsky (her mother’s lover who is a master at surviving whoever runs Russia) and can’t compete with passion for the revolution of the man she marries, Pasha. Her true love is Zhivago who also loves his wife. Lara is the one who inspires poetry. The story is narrated by Zhivago’s half brother Yevgraf, who has made his career in the Soviet Army. At the beginning of the film he is about to meet a young woman he believes may be the long lost daughter of Lara and Zhivago.”

“Doctor Zhivago” is rated PG-13 for mature themes.

Mini-Review:
This was my first time to actually see “Doctor Zhivago.” I had heard about it and knew the theme song, but that was about the extent of my knowledge on the film. Several things surprised me about it.

Being a “Star Wars” fan, I didn’t realize Alec Guinness starred in this movie. It was interesting to see him playing the general Yevgraf. He narrates the film and actually opens and closes the movie. I loved a scene in the film where he meets his half brother Yuri. We never see him deliver a single line of dialogue in the scene. Rather, we hear him providing the narration about what he said. It was an interesting directorial touch.

I was impressed with the other actors, too. I had really only seen Omar Sharif in his more recent, less noteworthy roles. I was also impressed with Julie Christie as Lara. Christie doesn’t look like your typical ’60s beauty. She looked like she could be on the big screen today. Then there was Geraldine Chaplin as Tonya. It wasn’t until I saw the bonus features that I realized she was Charlie Chaplin’s daughter. Then of course there’s Rod Steiger as Komarovsky, a guy who is despicable yet seems to have some redeeming qualities.

David Lean is one of the most celebrated directors of all time and it’s easy to see why. He transforms Spain into Russia and provides sweeping shots of grand scenery. From the opening shocking scene showing young Yuri at his mother’s funeral, we’re treated to memorable imagery. This impressive direction carries on through the whole film, including a dramatic ride on a train, battles in a frozen Russian lake, and a frozen house that looks like something out of a fairy tale.

While “Doctor Zhivago” was over three hours long, it still seemed like it dropped important information. For example, we see Lara’s mother sick (and surprisingly naked) in bed, then she’s never heard from again as far as I could tell. We are also told that Yuri’s wife and children fled to Paris, yet we never hear about them again, either. Bits of information like this seem to be big plot holes in the otherwise epic story.

I was also surprised with the basic story – Yuri is married and has a child with Tonya, yet he is in love with and has an affair with Lara. Take this story out of Russia during the revolution and you basically have a story about Yuri being an adulterer. The movie would like us to think that Yuri is a noble guy and that this his love for Lara is some classic romance, but I couldn’t help walking away from the film thinking what he did was wrong. Tonya was faithful and loving to Yuri, yet he betrayed her by cheating on her. It ultimately makes the movie disappointing when the main character never redeems himself.

It was interesting to check out “Doctor Zhivago” once, but it’s not something I’d be compelled to revisit again and again. This movie is considered a classic, but for me I got “7 out of 10″ worth of entertainment value out of it.

Fans of David Lean and “Doctor Zhivago” should be happy with the Blu-ray. The picture quality looks great and some of the outdoor scenes look like they were filmed yesterday. The disc comes in a hardbound book and includes a CD of the music. There are two new bonus features added to the Blu-ray. There’s a 45th Anniversary retrospective that features a number of directors and writers talking about how “Doctor Zhivago” influenced them. Also included is the “Doctor Zhivago: The Making of a Russian Epic” from the 30th Anniversary. It was included on the 2-Disc DVD released in 2001. Rounding things out are several vintage ‘making of’ featurettes including one on David Lean, one on the creation of the Moscow set in Spain, and one on the author Boris Pasternak. There’s also interview footage with some of the actors as well as promo reels on the cast.

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