Friday, June 26, 2009

I just can't recommend Doctor Zhivago

TCM's lineup honoring director David Lean today included the movie Doctor Zhivago. A lot of people think it's a great love story; but, having read the book, I can't bring myself to recommend the movie. Boris Pasternak's novel begins with Yuri as a young boy, at the funeral of his mother, and goes through his life in a more or less direct manner, ending with his death and then two epilogues. (The second epilogue consists of Zhivago's poetry, and can't really be translated to film.) The movie adaptation, however, begins with the material that's in the first epilogue, which pretty much gives the story away. Never mind that the ending of the movie seems to glorify the Soviet-era industrial projects, while Pasternak was quite ambivalent on Communism; indeed, the fact that his novel contained uncomfortable political messages resulted in its not being published in the Soviet Union for over 30 years after Pasternak wrote it.

If Doctor Zhivago the movie is your thing, however, have at it. Otherwise, read the book, which is quite good.

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