Dr. Jivago (movie)

Doctor Jivago ( Doctor Zhivago ) is an Italian – American historical melodrama directed by David Lean , released in 1965 . He is the adaptationof Boris Pasternak’s novel .

Renewed according to inflation, Dr. Jivago is the eighth biggest success story in cinema history with $ 1.9 billion in revenue 1 .


The film begins in the 1950s near a hydroelectric dam in the USSR ; General Yevgraf Jivago is looking for the daughter of his half-brother, Yuri Jivago, and Lara Antipova. He summons a young woman, Tanya Komarova, whom he thinks is the wanted person, his own niece. Yevgraf questions her, but the young woman does not remember her childhood anymore, nor the identity of her parents. The general then begins the story of his half-brother’s story.

Yuri loses his mother while he is still a small child. He is collected by friends of his mother, Alexander and Anna Gromeko, and grows up with their daughter Tonia in Moscow . The only inheritance of her mother is a balalaika , an instrument of which the latter played with virtuosity.

In 1913 , many years later, Yuri became a medical student and poet. A peaceful demonstration turns into a bloodbath in Moscow ; people fall under the swords of the Cossackhorsemen who came to restore order. Among the protesters is Pavel Antipov, a young revolutionary idealist, nicknamed “Pacha” and engaged to Lara. Wounded in the face in the scuffle, he runs to her to ask for care and takes the opportunity to make him keep a pistol recovered on the ground. Lara is a young and beautiful woman, which earned her the attraction of Victor Komarovsky, the lover of her mother. He is an older, influential man who supports the Liberals, in favor of limited reforms of the tsarist regime. Lara’s mother tries to commit suicide when she discovers the perverse bond between her lover and her daughter. Komarovsky, discovering her lying on the bed, calls on her friend doctor, who happens to be Yuri’s teacher. The doctor and Yuri, his pupil, manage to save the mother and promise not to reveal anything to Lara. When Komarovsky learns Lara’s wedding intentions with Pasha , he tries to dissuade her, then rapes her. In shock, she tries to kill him with Pasha’s revolver in full reception for Christmas Eve. She shoots at Komarovsky, which only hurts her arm lightly. He then asks the police not to sue Lara, lest she reveal her outrages. So Lara leaves the room, escorted by Pasha, while Komarovsky is quickly treated by Yuri. Lara and Pasha get married and they have a daughter named Katya.

The First World War broke out and then the civil war between reds and whites . Yuri is requisitioned by the Social Democrat Party of Russia to treat the wounded of the Russian imperial army . Pasha is left for dead during a heroic charge against the German forces. On the front Yuri finds Lara, hired as a volunteer nurse to find her husband: they treat the wounded together in a military hospital. In the difficult ordeal of war seen from behind, Lara and Yuri fall in love. But Yuri remains faithful to Tonia, with whom he has just married.

After the end of the conflict, Jivago returns to Moscow with his father-in-law, his wife Tonia and his son Sacha and finds his house occupied by proletarians suffering from famine, cold and typhus . His poems, considered anti-communist, put Yuri in danger. Yevgraf, who is in the police force, saves him from a confrontation and organizes a trip to the Uralswhere Yuri is from and where he has a house, so that his family is safe from Bolshevik repression .

During the cattle car journey, Yuri is faced with the misery and violence of the civil war. He then met Pasha chance to become Bolshevik general Strelnikov (a character inspired by Leon Trotsky ). He is still married to Lara, but he has not seen her since the beginning of the conflict. He knows, however, that she lives in the (fictional) town of Youriatine, occupied by the White Army forces . Arrived in Varykino, Yuri and Tonia discover that the family house was requisitioned by the reds . Yuri, Alexander and Tonia then settle in the pavilion next door, where they will lead a peaceful life, living crops from the garden.

Later, Yuri finds Lara who lives with her daughter in Youriatine, the neighboring town. The attraction they feel for each other resurfaces and they become lovers. In a scene with Katya, an allusion is made to the indoctrination of children by the new regime vis-à-vis Tsarism.

When Tonia gets pregnant, Yuri forsakes his adulterous relationship and visits Lara to stop it. On the way back, he is captured by communist supporters and must accompany them to serve as a doctor, without the opportunity to warn his family.

After two years, Yuri finally manages to escape in a snowstorm. After a long and difficult crossing of the white desert of Russia, it is almost dead cold that Yuri finds Lara. She tells him that her family has left for Moscow and that she will live in Paris in the near future. Lara and Youri renew their relationship in the small house in the village of Youriatine. Komarovsky reappears and announces to the couple that the Chekathreatens them both: Lara for his marriage to Strelnikov, hated by the government, and Yuri for his desertion and his counterrevolutionary poems. Komarovsky then offers his help and, playing on his relations, offers them a way to flee Russia from the east. The two lovers refuse and repel Komarovsky in the icy cold of the Russian winter.

Still believing in Komarovsky’s warnings, Lara and Yuri go back to Varykino, in the house once requisitioned by the revolutionaries. Yuri begins writing his poems for “Lara”, which will attract him the sympathy of the people but also the disfavor of the government. Komarovsky rebels, announces that Strelnikov was arrested shortly before and committed suicide. As a result, Lara is in danger of death because the Cheka had only spared her to attract Strelnikov to her. Komarovsky offers the couple a second time to escape with him to Mongolia ; the couple accept this time. At the moment of leaving, Yuri pretends a lack of space in the sleds to join Lara and the convoy later. What he will not do; Yuri is determined to face his destiny, unable to follow a man he despises.

A few years later, during the Stalinist period , the two half-brothers met in Moscow . Yuri is sick and physically weak. During a ride on the tram, he sees a woman in the street who looks a lot like Lara. He gets out of the tramway to challenge him, but fails to shout loud enough; he dies of a heart attack in the middle of the street. His funeral is a lot of people because his poems have won the hearts of the people. At his funeral, Lara Yevgraf meeting and reveals that she has given birth to the daughter of Yuri and asks him for help to find her, lost in the tumult of the occupation of Mongolia by China. She will not find her in Moscow, despite the dedicated help of Yevgraf. Lara then disappears, probably deported or executed as part of the Great Terror .

The film then goes back to the fifties, in the guardhouse of the hydroelectric dam. Yevgraf assumes that Tanya is the daughter of Lara and Yuri and presents him with a picture of his father; but the girl remains skeptical about the true identity of this one. Yevgraf makes her promise that she will think about it in the future.

When she leaves, Tanya puts on her back a balalaika , an instrument that Yuri’s mother played when he was a child and who accompanied him all his life.


The producer Carlo Ponti is given the rights of Boris Pasternak’s novel for the MGM . He entrusted the realization to David Lean . It’s a blockbuster that cost $ 16 million at the time (1965), or about $ 137 million in 2012. The film is shot mostly in Spain (and Canada and Finland) where Lean builds one of the most extraordinary movie sets. Handling the epic scale and psychological refinement, the film gets a huge success (five Oscars). He remains famous for the splendor of sets and costumes, as well as for the melody and accompanying music of Maurice Jarre .

Technical sheet

  • Original title: Doctor Zhivago
  • Title: Dr. Jivago
  • Director: David Lean
  • Director (second team): Roy Rossotti
  • Screenplay: Robert Bolt , from the novel Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  • Artistic direction: John Box , Terence Marsh
  • Costumes: Phyllis Dalton
  • Sets: Dario Simoni
  • Photography: Frederick A. Young and Nicolas Roeg
  • Photography (second team): Manuel Berenguer , Desmond Dickinson
  • Cameramen: Ernest Day and Alex Thomson (uncredited)
  • Editing: Norman Savage
  • Music: Maurice Jarre
  • Production: David Lean , Carlo Ponti
  • Associate production company: Arvid L. Griffen
  • Production company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer , Carlo Ponti Cinematografica , Vaduz Sostar SA
  • Distribution Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • Country: United States , Italy
  • Genre: historical melodrama
  • Duration: 197 minutes
  • Release dates:
    •  United States :
    •  France :


  • Omar Sharif (VF: André Oumansky ) : Dr. Yuri Jivago
  • Julie Christie (VF: Nadine Alari ) : Larissa Antipova (“Lara”)
  • Geraldine Chaplin (VF: Michèle André ) : Tonia Zhivago
  • Rod Steiger (VF: André Valmy ) : Victor Komarovsky
  • Alec Guinness (VF: Jacques Thébault ) : General Yevgraf Jivago (half-brother)
  • Tom Courtenay (VF: Marc Cassot ) : Pavel Antipov (“Pacha”) / Strelnikov
  • Siobhan McKenna (VF: Micheline Dax ) : Anna
  • Ralph Richardson (VF: Abel Jacquin ) : Alexander Gromeko
  • Rita Tushingham (VF: Arlette Thomas ) : Tanya Komarova
  • Klaus Kinski (VF: Jacques Thébault ) : Kostoyed Amoursky (the anarchist on the train)
  • Geoffrey Keen (VF: Jean Martinelli ) : The doctor’s teacher
  • Lucy Westmore : Katya
  • Peter Madden : The Political Officer
  • José Nieto (uncredited): A priest
  • Jack MacGowran : (VF: Maurice Chevit) Pepia the servant



  • Oscars 1966 :
    • adapted screenplay : Robert Bolt
    • best costume design in a color film: Phyllis Dalton
    • best artistic direction in a color film: John Box, Terry Marsh and Dario Simoni
    • best movie music : Maurice Jarre for the musical theme Lara’s Theme ( The Song of Lara )
    • best photograph in a color film: Freddie Young
  • Golden Globes 1966:
    • Golden Globe Award for Best Director for David Lean
    • Golden Globe for Best Screenplay for Robert Bolt
    • Golden Golbe’s Best Actor in a Drama for Omar Sharif
  • David di Donatello of the best foreign production in 1967


  • Oscars 1966 :
    • best film
    • best director : David Lean
    • best sound : AW Watkins and Franklin Milton
    • best supporting actor : Tom Courtenay
    • best editing : Norman Savage
  • BAFTA 1967:
    • best film
    • best actor: Ralph Richardson
    • best actress: Julie Christie

Around the film

  • During the scene in which Omar Sharif and his companions are trying to hoist a woman aboard the moving train, it is rumored that the actress and stunt driver (Lili Murati) passed under the train. It seems like it’s just a rumor. The DVD bonus 40 th anniversary, however there is echo this accident is narrated by Geraldine Chaplin and commentary indicates that David Lean was taking new every day while shooting the victim 2 , 3 , 4 .
  • To give him a more “Russian” physique, the makeup artists stretched Omar Sharif’s eyes with plaster .
  • In the French version, Omar Sharif is dubbed by André Oumansky . Indeed, Sharif could not impose his Franco-Egyptian accent on a Russian character.
  • Concerned with detail, David Lean insisted that the costumes and even the underwear conform to the period models.
  • The producer Carlo Ponti , who had bought the rights to the novel, wanted his wife, Sophia Loren , to get the role of Lara. David Lean refused by stating that she was too big for the role.
  • David Lean first chose Peter O’Toole for the role of Jivago, but he refused, claiming that Lawrence of Arabia’s experience , also directed by Lean, had been grueling for him. A conflict broke out between them, which was never settled later.
  • Omar Sharif had asked David Lean to give him the role of Pavel Antipov. He was the first surprised when he won the title role.
  • David Lean’s first choice for Komarovsky’s role was Marlon Brando, but he did not answer his invitation. James Mason agreed to play it but D. Lean finally decided not to take it because he did not think he could dominate the character of Zhivago. Rod Steiger was hired.
  • Rod Steiger spent twelve months on the set. He is one of the only American actors in the film.
  • The actor who plays Jivago as a child is Tarek Sharif , Omar’s son.
  • David Lean’s first choice for Tonia was Audrey Hepburn, but he was so impressed by Geraldine Chaplin’s performance at the audition that he immediately hired her.
  • Alec Guinness and David Lean often argued on the set, each criticizing the work of the other.
  • The inside of the house while ice was made mainly in wax .
  • The shooting took more than ten months because D. Lean wanted to evoke the different seasons, including the harsh Russian winter. But Spain had a very mild winter that year, which caused serious delays. It was necessary to make plastic snow during the summer. The actors had to remake makeup very often because of perspiration.
  • The film was shot almost entirely in Spain , notably in Canfranc and Soria , but also in Finland and the province of Alberta in Canada 5 . The Ural Mountains that we see there are actually the Pyrenees .
  • The replica of Moscow was built in the suburbs of Madrid . It included a 800-meter high street with a tram and a viaduct, a miniature replica of the Kremlin and 60 shops and houses surrounding a large square.
  • 4,000 daffodils were imported from the Netherlands and planted near the Soria mountain where the Jivago estate was located.
  • In the scene where Julie Christie slaps Rod Steiger , he slaps her in turn. This second slap was not in the script and Christie’s surprise in receiving it is real.
  • When Rod Steiger gives a kiss to Julie Christie for the first time, it struggles for real because Steiger deliberately kissed her tongue in her mouth. [ref. necessary]
  • It was only in 1994 that the film was shown for the first time in Russia .
  • In the plan where the hero returns to Youriatine half frozen (about 2:41:20), two Cyrillic letters are reversed on the sign bearing the name of the station: ЮРЯИТНЪ instead of ЮРЯТИНЪ.


  1. ↑ ” Universal reached the billion with Furious 7 – He was a geek ”  [ archive ] (accessed on st September 2015 )
  2. ↑ ” http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/zhivago.asp ”  [ archive ]
  3. ↑ ” Woman Falling Under a Train in Doctor Zhivago ”  [ archive ] , on www.thingsinmovies.com (accessed July 14, 2015 )
  4. ↑ (in) Gene Phillips , Beyond the Epic: The Life and Films of David Lean , University Press of Kentucky, ( ISBN  0813171555 , read online  [ archive ] )
  5. ↑ Doctor Zhivago on “Locations”  [ archive ]

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