Okay, this week we’re gonna talk about one of the movies I was dreading watching for this series, MGM’S 1965 epic, Dr. Zhivago.
Why would I dread watching this movie? It’s a classic! Celebrated by generations of movie goers!
Yeah, thing is, I don’t really like good movies. I mean sometimes I’ll enjoy one of them, but in general, the more a film “explores the human experience” the less I care. I’m living the human experience. I don’t need to watch someone on screen going through all the bad shit I just went through.
I want Peter Cushing. And dead people. And Peter Cushing. And old houses with secrets that involve dead people. And those old houses with secrets and dead people need to involve Peter Cushing. A young, super hot John Carradine is also acceptable.
What makes it even worse for me is that this movie is touted as one of the greatest love stories ever written.
Sweet Jayzus I hate love stories! I have an extremely low opinion of love and the role it plays in society so these movies never move me. They usually end up annoying me more than anything.
So I’m in for a three-hour love story that movie snobs tell me is a work of art. Ingrid is an extra so I may not even find her and Peter Cushing isn’t in it.
*head hits desk*
BUT I CAN DO THIS! So I settled myself in and did it.
In all honesty, it took me about four and a half hours to get through because I kept pausing it and wandering off.
But I didn’t have as much trouble as I thought I would. This is 1000% not my type of movie. It is never in a hurry, which I found annoying. It’s a MOTION picture (to borrow an MST3K joke) and paintings exist if I feel the need to just sit and stare at pretty things. I also feel like it would have been better as a miniseries. There were too many characters and plotlines to follow (for a movie called Dr. Zhivago, I’m not convinced we see enough of him to justify the title) that it made the movie feel unwieldy, like there was no through line in the plot. Some people are okay with that. I prefer to have a point to the story I’m watching.
My personal, and quite sick, fascination with World War I buoyed me through the first part, and I was quite pleased that the love story wasn’t actually that big of a deal in the grand scheme of the movie. It also helped a great deal that the love triangle didn’t end up in acrimonious destruction for all involved. There was a marvelous, and I think quite Russian, pragmatism to the whole thing and I liked the fact that the idea was that the heart is big enough for more than one kind of love. For my part, I think Zhivago loved both Lara and Tonya, just not in the same way.
It helped that no one in this movie, besides Strelnikov, is really a jerk. Zhivago, Lara, Tonya and even Yevgraf are all good people just trying to make it in a bad situation. You don’t come to hate any of them, again except Strelnikov who is a straw man for the Bolsheviks in this case.
That brings me to one of the things I actually was really impressed with in this movie. Dr. Zhivago really is a war movie, but without all the war movie trappings we now associate with war movies. It made you understand the cost of war without beating you over the head with an emotional cudgel and making you look at concentration camps and people dying in the mud.
And the performances all around were top notch. I did have a little trouble with Omar Sharif. He was a good enough actor, and I really liked the vulnerability he displayed, but there was a misfire with the make up. Apparently they tried to make his eyes wider so he didn’t look so Egyptian, which totally explains the big-eyed anime child vibe I was getting off him the whole movie. I also really liked Tom Courtenay as Strelnikov. That dude was scary.
I read that Ingrid had five separate roles in the movie, all of them bit parts. I never saw her once. But I did see a welcome face.
That’s Adrienne Corri on the right. You can barely see her, but it’s the only picture of her in the movie I could find.
Of course, there are, like, a BAJILLION people in this movie so you’re bound to recognize everyone anyway.
Anyway, I watched it. There we go. Peace out.