I guess I’m supposed to be all cranked up about Warner Home Video’s forthcoming Dr. Zhivago Bluray. The truth is that I kind of am. Mainly — naturally — because of Freddie Young and Nicolas Roeg‘s 35mm cinematography. My favorite shot is one of the most nonsensical in film history — i.e., the closeup of Yuri’s deceased mother inside her casket after it’s been sealed and lowered into the grave, but with just enough light for the camera to catch her bluish features.
It’s a long and tedious milquetoast “romance” — a chick flick, really — with some elements that mesmerize all the same. The kindly paternal tone in Alec Guiness‘s voice as he speaks to Rita Tushingham. That wall of ice covering the freight-car door during that eternal train trip. That scene when the advancing Russian troops are turned by the deserters, and then the British-accented officer stands on top of a water barrel and tries to persuade them to hold fast in the ranks, and then he falls through the top, soaked, and is shot. Klaus Kinski‘s fury as he shouts “I am the only free man on this train!” Julie Christie‘s blonde hair and gleaming blue eyes. The troops raising their fists and yelling “Strelnikov!” in perfect unison as Tom Courtenay‘s train passes by. Guiness’s final line: “Aahh. Then it’s a gift.”