Monday, April 4, 2011

Film,Dr Zhivago


Doctor Zhivago (Russian: До́ктор Жива́го) is a 1965 epic drama-romance-war film directed by David Lean and loosely based on the famous novel of the same name by Boris Pasternak. It has remained popular for decades, and as of 2010 is the eighth highest grossing film of all time in the United States, adjusted for inflation

Plot

The film takes place, for the most part, during the tumultuous period of 1912–1923, the years which included World War I, the Russian Revolution and Russian Civil War, as the regime of Tsar Nicholas II was overthrown and the Soviet Union established. A framing device, from which the film is narrated, takes place some time in the 1950s, though a specific date is never mentioned.
The film's framing device involves Cheka General Yevgraf Andreyevich Zhivago (Alec Guinness) searching for the illegitimate child of his half brother, poet and doctor Yuri Andreyevich Zhivago (Omar Sharif), and his mistress Larissa ("Lara") Antipova (Julie Christie). (It is briefly mentioned that Yuri Andreyevich's "Lara poems" are finally back in print after being banned for some time.) Yevgraf believes a young woman named Tonya Komarovskaya (Rita Tushingham) working on a dam project may be his niece. Around 1956, Yevgraf narrates the story for her, periodically appearing in it, though he rarely interacts with any other characters (and never speaks except in voice-over) in the flashbacks.
Yevgraf tells Tonya the story of her father's life. Yuri Zhivago's father abandons the family and Yuri's mother dies when he is a child, leaving him only a balalaika. Left destitute, Yuri is taken in by his mother's friends, the Gromekos—Alexander 'Sasha' (Ralph Richardson) and Anna (Siobhán McKenna)—and their daughter Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin). Gromeko is a retired medical professor living in Moscow. As a result, Zhivago is able to enter medical school, studying under Professor Boris Kurt (Geoffrey Keen). Though he is already a poet of some renown, Yuri does not think he can support a family as a poet and decides to become a doctor. Lara, meanwhile, lives with her mother (Adrienne Corri), a dressmaker who is being "advised" by Victor Ipolitovich Komarovsky (Rod Steiger), a corrupt attorney, who was a friend and business partner of Zhivago's father. Lara becomes engaged to Pavel Pavlovich ("Pasha") Antipov (Tom Courtenay). Originally an idealistic social democrat (Lara teasingly calls him "an awful prig"), Pasha drifts into Left-wing extremism after being wounded by sabre-wielding Cossacks during a peaceful protest. This leaves him with a conspicuous scar across his cheek which marks him for life. The same evening, Komarovsky takes Lara to an expensive restaurant and seduces her.
Lara becomes more deeply involved with Komarovsky, until her mother finally discovers their affair. As a result of the discovery, Lara's mother tries to commit suicide by swallowing iodine. Komarovsky discovers her and summons help from Kurt and his assistant Zhivago, who thus encounters Lara for the first time. When Pasha, now a dedicated Bolshevik, informs Komarovsky of his intentions to marry Lara, Komarovsky is not amused. He tries to dissuade Lara from marrying Pasha, and then rapes her. In revenge, Lara takes a pistol she has been concealing for Pasha, tracks Komarovsky to a Christmas party and shoots him in the arm. Although the diners wish to notify the police, Komarovsky insists that no action be taken against Lara, who is escorted out by Pasha. Although enraged and devastated by Lara's infidelity, Pasha cannot bring himself to strike her. In the aftermath, they marry and have a daughter, Katya Antipova.
The movie then moves ahead to the outbreak of World War I. Yevgraf Zhivago enlists, intending to subvert the Imperial Russian Army for Vladimir Lenin's Bolsheviks. Yuri, who is by this time married to Tonya Gromeko, becomes a battlefield doctor along the Eastern Front. Leaving his wife and his daughter, Pasha Antipov joins a volunteer regiment ("Happy men don't volunteer," Yevgraf is heard to say in voice-over), becoming one of the few officers the common soldiers trust. However, he is declared missing in action and Lara enlists as a nurse in order to search for him. Meanwhile, the February Revolution breaks out and the soldiers begin to kill their officers and desert en masse. Travelling with a group of deserters, Lara again encounters Zhivago, who is with a column of replacement troops marching to the front. Zhivago enlists the help of Lara to tend to the wounded. The two manage a makeshift hospital in a nearby dacha for the remainder of the war and are parted after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
After the war, Yuri returns to Moscow, learns that his mother-in-law has died and that the Gromekos' house has been divided into tenements by the new Soviet government. Yuri meets his son Sasha for the first time since the boy was an infant, and resumes his old job at the local hospital. Angered that his family lacks firewood for the family stove, one night Yuri steals wood from a fence, where he is spotted by his half-brother, Yevgraf, who is working for the CHEKA. Yevgraf follows him home, identifies himself, and informs Zhivago that his poems have been condemned by Soviet censors as antagonistic to Communism. After explaining that this puts their whole family at risk for collective punishment, Yevgraf helps arrange for rail passes for their transport to the Gromeko estate at Varykino, in the Ural Mountains.
Zhivago, Tonya, Sasha and Alexander board a heavily-guarded cattle train which contains a detachment of labour conscripts bound for the gulag—including the hot-headed dissident intellectual, Kostoyed Amoursky (Klaus Kinski)—and a large contingent of Red Guards. At one point, the train passes through the village of Mink, which has been shelled by Red forces commanded by People's Commissar Strelnikov. While the Urals train is stopped, Zhivago wanders away from the train, listens to the sound of a waterfall, and stumbles across Strelnikov's armoured train sitting on a hidden siding. Believing that Yuri is about to assassinate the Commissar, the Red Guards arrest him and bring him before Strelnikov. To his amazement, Yuri immediately recognises the Commissar as Pasha Antipov. After a tense conversation, Strelnikov informs Yuri that Lara is alive in the town of Yuriatin—which is then occupied by the anti-Communist White Army. He then allows Zhivago to return to his family. A casual comment by the guard who takes Zhivago back to his train reveals that most people interrogated by Strelnikov end up being shot.
Zhivago's family arrives at Varykino, only to learn that their house has been boarded up with a sign indicating confiscation by the Soviet State, a.k.a. "the people". Out of fear of being executed as "counter-revolutionaries", they refrain from breaking into their own house and decide to occupy the smaller guest cottage. The family lives a mundane life until the next spring, when Zhivago goes into nearby Yuriatin and finds that Lara is still living there with Katya, and working as a librarian. The two reacquaint themselves and surrender to their longtime feelings, beginning an extra-marital affair. Zhivago feels deeply ashamed and is torn between Tonya and Lara, until Tonya becomes pregnant. Therefore, Yuri travels to Yuriatin and breaks off his relationship with Lara, only to be abducted and conscripted into service by Communist partisans under Liberius (Gérard Tichy) while riding back to Varykino. After serving with the Partisans for nearly two years, Zhivago deserts, walking through the snow to Yuriatin in an attempt to reach Varykino, but learns that Tonya and her father have "gone away -- there's no one at Varykino". He makes his way to Lara's flat, where the two lovers rekindle their relationship; she tells him that Tonya and her father Sasha have emigrated to Paris. Later she gives him a letter from Tonya, in which Tonya tells him that she's given birth to a daughter, admitting at the end, "I must honestly admit that {Lara} Antipova is a good person."
However, Komarovsky arrives one night and informs them that they are being watched by the CHEKA, due to Lara's marriage to Commissar Strelnikov (who has fallen from favour with the Soviet State) and Yuri's "counter-revolutionary" poetry. Komarovsky offers Yuri and Lara his help in leaving Russia, but they refuse. Instead, they go, with Lara's daughter Katya, to the Varykino estate, which has been left open and is frozen inside. Yuri begins writing the "Lara" poems, which later make him famous but incur government displeasure. Komarovsky reappears and tells Yuri that Strelnikov had been arrested and had committed suicide while being taken to his execution. Therefore, Lara is in immediate danger, as the CHEKA had only left her free to lure Strelnikov into the open. Zhivago scoffs at this, but Komarovsky informs him that Strelnikov had been arrested on the road only five miles from Varykino. Yuri agrees to send Lara away with Komarovsky, who has been appointed as Minister of Justice to the White government of Baron Ungern von Sternberg in Mongolia. Refusing to leave with a man he despises, Yuri remains behind.
Years later, Yuri returns destitute to Moscow, where Yevgraf obtains for him a hospital job and buys him some new clothes. While travelling on a tram to his first day at work, Yuri sees a woman whom he recognises as Lara. Forcing his way off the tram, he runs after her, but suffers a fatal heart attack before she can see or notice him. Although denied an official funeral by the Soviet State, Yuri's poetry is already being published openly due to shifts in politics and his funeral is well-attended. Among the mourners is Lara, who is surprised and deeply saddened by her beloved's death. She approaches Yevgraf and informs him that she has given birth to Yuri's daughter, but has become separated from her in the collapse of the Baron's Government in Mongolia. After vainly looking over hundreds of orphans with Yevgraf's help, Lara disappears off the street during Joseph Stalin's Great Purge. "She died or vanished somewhere, in one of the labour camps," recalls Yevgraf, "A nameless number, on a list that was afterwards mislaid."
At the beginning of the film, Zhivago's mother dies and he inherits her balalaika. His adoptive father informs him that his mother had a gift. The theme of artistic talent is repeated throughout the film, as Zhivago becomes a poet of great renown. At the end, set at a hydroelectric dam during the mid-1950s, Yevgraf is growing more and more convinced the young girl Tonya Komarovskaya is Yuri's and Lara's daughter, but she is reluctant to believe it: "I can't be of any use to them now, can I?" Yevgraf offers, "I was hoping I might be of some use to you." The girl ends the meeting, promising that she will "think about it", and leaves with her boyfriend, a dam operator. While walking away, the girl slings a balalaika over her shoulder, which catches the eye of Yevgraf. He calls out to her, "Tonya, can you play the balalaika?" Her boyfriend responds, "Can she play? She is an artist!" "Who taught you?" Yevgraf asks. "No one taught her." Yevgraf smiles and comments, "Ah, then, it's a gift."

Cast

Background

This famous film version by David Lean was created for various reasons. Pasternak's novel had been an international success, and producer Carlo Ponti was interested in adapting it as a vehicle for his wife, Sophia Loren. Lean, coming off the huge success of Lawrence of Arabia (1962), wanted to make a more intimate, romantic film to balance the action- and adventure-oriented tone of his previous film. One of the first actors signed onboard was Omar Sharif, who had played Lawrence's right-hand man Sherif Ali in Lawrence of Arabia. Sharif loved the novel, and when he heard Lean was making a film adaptation, he requested to be cast in the role of Pasha (which ultimately went to Tom Courtenay). Sharif was quite surprised when Lean suggested that he play Zhivago himself. Peter O'Toole, star of Lawrence of Arabia, was Lean's original choice for Zhivago, but turned the part down; Max von Sydow and Paul Newman were also considered. Michael Caine tells in his autobiography that he also read for Zhivago, but (after watching the results with David Lean) was the one who suggested Omar Sharif. Rod Steiger was cast as Komarovsky after Marlon Brando and James Mason turned the part down. Audrey Hepburn was considered for Tonya, while Robert Bolt lobbied for Albert Finney to play Pasha. Lean, however, was able to convince Ponti that Loren was not right for the role of Lara, saying she was "too tall" (and confiding in screenwriter Robert Bolt that he could not accept Loren as a virgin for the early parts of the film), and Yvette Mimieux, Sarah Miles and Jane Fonda were considered for the role. Ultimately, Julie Christie was cast based on her appearance in Billy Liar (1963), and the recommendation of John Ford, who directed her in Young Cassidy.
The final scenes were shot at the Aldeadávila Dam between Spain and Portugal.
Since the book was banned in the Soviet Union, the movie was filmed largely in Spain over ten months,with the entire Moscow set being built from scratch outside of Madrid. Most of the scenes covering Zhivago and Lara's service in World War I were filmed in Soria, as was the Varykino estate. Due to uncooperative weather in Spain, some of the winter sequences were filmed in Finland, mostly landscape scenes, and Yuri's escape from the Partisans. Winter scenes of the family travelling to Yuriatin by rail were filmed in Canada.
The "ice-palace" at Varykino was filmed in Soria as well, a house filled with frozen beeswax. The charge of the Partisans across the frozen lake was filmed in Spain, too; a cast iron sheet was placed over a dried river-bed, and fake snow (mostly marble dust) was added on top. Most of the winter scenes were filmed in warm temperatures, sometimes of up to 30 °C (86 °F).

Differences between the novel and film

The film version of Doctor Zhivago is faithful to the novel in a general sense; the basic plot remains the same, and the story rarely deviates from the novel. However, many of the subplots—particularly regarding the novel's historical/political facets—were glossed over or edited down. Nearly half of the book's characters were excised while others had their parts significantly reduced (particularly Anna Gromeko, Pasha, and Liberius the Partisan commander). Other characters (most notably Kuril, the Bolshevik deserter, Commissar Razin, and Petya, the Varykino groundskeeper) were created as an amalgamation of characters from the book which had been excised from the film version. Many reviewers have criticized the film in particular for reducing the depiction of World War I to a mere five minute narration sequence, and a similar treatment of Zhivago's service with the Partisans, which took up nearly seventy pages of the novel.
Most of these cuts were made or advocated by David Lean; screenwriter Robert Bolt's original screenplay dealt with the political/historical aspects of the book in a more in-depth, if still abbreviated manner. The scenes of Yuri's service with and escape from the Partisans included scenes where Liberius executes mortally wounded Partisans. Zhivago's horse, after the escape, is killed for food by a group of homeless children, and Zhivago comes across a group of children who are, it is hinted, cannibalizing the bodies of their parents.
In the book, Pasha is a revolutionary dilettante and an apolitical military leader; his ultimate fall from grace is because he is not a true Bolshevik. In the film, Bolt depicts him as an activist dissenting from hardcore Bolshevik orthodoxy from the beginning. He becomes a ruthless individual over the course of the story. Bolt wanted to include the book's scene where the disgraced Strelnikov returned to Varykino, met with Zhivago, and then committed suicide; Lean, however, decided to cut it out, and Strelnikov's fate was dealt with through dialogue spoken by Komarovsky.
The present-day subplot involving Yevgraf's interview of The Girl several decades after the story's main events was added as a narration/framing device to help move along the story. Omar Sharif later joked that it was added to reassure the audience that Yuri and Lara would ultimately get together, even though the audience would have to wait until two hours into the film for it to happen.
The film also omits significant happenings in Dr. Zhivago's life after separating from Lara, when he returns to Moscow, abandons the practice of medicine, pursues writing, becomes romantically involved with a third woman (Marina) who bears him two daughters, while his life takes a downward spiral and he ends up impoverished. In the film Zhivago's heart attack on the tram is occasioned by the sight of Lara; in the novel it is her older Swiss nurse companion who is walking along the pavement.
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