Doctor Zhivago

1965 US
Dir:David Lean
Stars:Omar Sharif,
Julie Christie, Geraldin Chaplin, Rod Steiger

Left:Geraldin Chaplin, Right:Omar Sharif

Despite the fact that this long long epic movie is usually refered to as an American product, director David Lean and many players except Rod Steiger in this movie are none-Americans. Probably because of this, I feel something different in it from usual American epic movies. Anyway, I guess that apart from the famous screen music composed by Maurice Jarre evaluation toward this film shall be quite different audience to audience. As a matter of fact, it seems that when the movie was firstly shown, it was criticized by many professional movie critiques so completely as to let David Lean think he would never dare to make another movie though he seems to have succeeded in regaining his confidence after a while and making a couple of other movies. Somehow, the length of this movie, especially when regarded as quite a boring drama without happening in it any special events, might easily lure negative responses. One of the most difficult points in making this kind of long long epic movies is, I presume, that even though 3-4 hours is quite long as a running time of a movie, nevertheless it's quite short for expressing in it the feelings and notions toward eternal and everlasting time in the Bergsonian sense (as I'm not a native English speaker, I'm afraid that the words "eternal" and "everlasting" might not accurately connote what I am thinking they would connote) that is required for this type of epic story. In this regard, if someone should make such a ridiculous argument that it would be quite sufficient for expressing such feelings and notions toword eternal time if the audience could feel dullness of sitting long time by being forced to watch an overlong and insipid movie for more than 3 hours, we could certainly say that he was making a typical case of a complete category error. Because it's not about the time felt and seen from the perspectives of audience, but about the time from the perspectives of characters in the story itself that matters. Therefore, we can easily guess that it shall be quite difficult that we acheive, in making movies where usually 1 or 2 hours quickly passes even before sufficient character studies have been convincingly established to the degree that it can bolster the plot proceedings of an epic story, the same kind of effects as usual epic novels have where there usually is no restraint for time span and enough time to evolve complete character studies required for establishing an epic story. In this respect, somehow I think "Doctor Zhivago" is, amazingly as in a movie media, succeeding in conveying the feelings and notions toward eternal and everlasting time, and I regard this movie as one of the best epic movies ever made for this reason. I assume it is allowed to call this movie a love story between Doctor Zhivago played by Omar Sharif and Lala played by Julie Christie. But, seen as a love story between them, this movie has utterly strange tendency; that is, the amount of time that these two main characters appear simultaneously in the same scene sums up only to no more than 20 minutes (though I haven't measured it accurately with a stopwatch) in this long movie. From the first scene where they catch glimpse of each other in a bus as strangers to the final parting scene, they repeat meeting and parting several times, and the interval duration that they are apart is much longer than the one that they are together. It shall become evident when it is seen from the perspective of a main character in this story, i.e, Doctor Zhivage that this way of presenting a story is quite effective for the movie being conducive to fermenting the feelings of an epic story and the eternal and everlasting time required for constituting it. Against the background of a drastic historical change; that is, the Soviet revolution, under which time passes so quickly that no one knows what the situation of tomorrow will be, if seen from the perspectives of these two main characters who are meeting and parting repeatedly as if by some sort of a predeterminated fate, we will be able to easily feel that the duration that they are apart would be felt like an eternal time by them, and that is more so than the usual simulating time in movie media allows us to feel. David Lean's way of presenting an epic story in this way is definitely effective, and this certainly makes "Doctor Zhivago" one of the most convincingly fabricated epic stories in movie media. Viewing in this aspect alone, even I think this movie is far more effective than another his masterpiece "Lawrence of Arabia"(1962). For the story of the latter is rather driven by the occurences of external events. Anyway, I'm thinking "Doctor Zhivago" is definitely one of David Lean's and epic movie's masterpieces.

All articles are written by Kaminarikozou