Doctor Zhivago

Doctor Zhivago

On DVD: 
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Bonus Features:

Interviews, Biographies, Photo Gallery

I remember watching David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago back in High School and it was the first time I had seen a film that had an intermission in the middle of it. I recall loving it so much that I begged my mom to rent it for us so I could watch it again. It was one of those moments in life where I was absolutely fascinated with acting, movie sets, stunt effects, and direction. Doctor Zhivago had it all.

When I threw on this updated mini-series version from 2002 I hadn’t seen the original film in decades. All I knew was that this was a reboot, and I hate those, and the cast wasn’t exactly causing a stir of excitement for me. Fortunately with no coherent memory of the original film to put it up against it made it easier to watch this film as its own entity and see if, like the original, I would end up loving it.

Surprisingly enough I was floored by the amazing acting done in this film. I’m not a huge Sam Neill fan but he makes for an amazing Victor Komarovsky, maybe the perfect actor for the part. He can play manipulatively impassive, deceptively dangerous, and you could really see his character as he progresses from being egotistical to an outright monster following the events of the series. His dialogue delivery still leaves a bit to be desired but if you allow the character to absorb that flaw as natural you tend to forget who you’re watching.

Kiera Knightly does a decent job here. For me, she’s never going to be more then a pouty, perceivably, pretty face. Her acting is stand out, but her acting quirks are still present causing my bias for her as an actor to stagnate my excitement for her part. It wasn’t a deal ender, but you never see anyone other then Kiera Knightly in the part. Still, it works.

The film has some amazing locations, costumes, and sets that really put you in the mindset of being in Russia at the time. From what I read the production had been trying to find a place that had a natural snowfall but couldn’t find a suitable place due to financial reasoning or political reasoning. The production finally landed in Slovakia where there had been a snowstorm that had set them up for exactly what they wanted, but by the time they arrived the snow had melted and they eventually just turned to artificial snow for that location. Still, the film looks authentic for both time and place.

Is it better then the original? Honestly I couldn’t say because I remember so little about the original. To go back and watch all three hours and thirty three minutes of the original seems like a really daunting task after having watched this four hour plus hour mini-series, but all in all this is a mini-series worth visiting. Good acting, beautiful locations and sets, and a great story with pivotal characters.


AJ Garcia
Review by AJ Garcia
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