After the desert grandeur of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962), director David Lean wanted to make a more intimate story. The result was this massive re-creation of the Russian Revolution inspired by a novel banned in the Soviet Union. The tender love story of married doctor Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif) and the beautiful, enigmatic Lara (Julie Christie) was a natural for the screen with its backdrop of world-shaking turmoil. Unable to shoot in Russia, the production moved to Spain, where the crew spent 18 months building a 10-acre replica of Moscow, complete with trolley cars. Lean shot over the course of a year, wanting to capture each of the four seasons naturally. When the Spanish winter proved unusually warm, however, the crew had to make snow out of marble dust and plastic. On its initial release, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO did poorly at the box office, largely because of mostly negative reviews from critics complaining that the grandiose staging upstaged the story. As Maurice Jarre’s soundtrack, with its popular “Lara’s Theme,” started climbing the charts, audiences started showing up, falling in love with the doomed lovers and fascinated by the psychologically complex villains played by Rod Steiger and Tom Courtenay. The film won five Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Score, and remains one of the most popular of all historical romances.
(d. David Lean, 197m, Digital)