Many people donít entirely like this movie, but begrudgingly recommend it. The romance aspect is puzzling. Omar Sharifís Yuri Zhivago and Julie Christieís Lara share so little screen time that the chemistry has no chance to work. Although I cared about both of the characters separately, I was never pulling for them to end up together, which is hell on a supposedly romantic movie. By the end I felt far less sorry for Yuri or Lara than Zhivagoís spurned wife and son.
The Russian revolution is the backdrop in the comedy of errors that keeps the lovers apart. Some complain that the Russian history was relegated to a supporting role, but it made for a spectacular backdrop. Where Lean failed to infuse the story with historical accuracy or details, he certainly got across the sense of devastation.
Still, the film is the work of a visual virtuoso. At least twenty of the scenes (mostly landscapes) had me gasping in awe. And where the story fails, the score excels; the balalaika strains are still running through my head.
Itís not a quick or easy viewing, but there is enough here to make it worth the serious film loverís time.
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Copyright 2002 by Toby Baldwin
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