10 October 2008

Tell Lara I Love Her

I sat down tonight to take in a classic, Doctor Zhivago, with my mom. She saw it when it came out, over forty years ago. I saw it maybe twenty years ago, when I was in fifth grade I think. I believe we watched it in class actually. I'm not sure what the teacher was thinking. Sure it's a classic film but was I supposed to get anything out of the film as a ten year old? All I remembered about the movie was the ubiquitous Lara's Theme. Which has kind of haunted me these twenty some odd years.

Well, let me just say after re-watching this thing that it's great. Romantic, gripping, and not what I expected at all. I thought it was just a love story but it's actually so much more than that. The story is set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution and that fact utterly escaped me the first time around. I didn't recall anything about a rape either. Or maybe I didn't even know what the hell had just happened. And while Julie Christie's Lara had always been captivating in this iconic way, I can't say that I really liked her character. She was just kind of there and didn't exactly seem like she was worthy of Zhivago's love. His dutiful wife (played by Charlie Chaplin's daughter), totally gets shafted.

Actually, all the characters were just kind of there. Dr. Zhivago himself didn't really capture the imagination and even though horrible things kept happening to him, he didn't seem to have any real emotions. Throughout the movie I was Wikipedia-ing everything and got more background and perspective on the book, the film, and the history of the Revolution but without all the research, I might have been a tad bit lost. Still, I think I loved the film and would definitely watch it again. Maybe I'd even give this 2002 version a try, which stars Keira Knightley, and um, Bill Paterson. Okay, maybe not.

Apparently the movie was the Titanic of its day. It won multiple Academy Awards, made tons of money, and was loved and hated in equal measure. I can see both sides because it is kind of slow and overly long. Still, I was really drawn into the story and it gave me the same wretched/wonderful feeling after watching any (good) film about unrequited love. A powerful feeling of romance swept over me even if I'd be hard pressed to explain why when looking at the details.

My mom's friend lent her this boxed set of old Oscar classics so I'll probably be working through stuff like Lawrence of Arabia and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in the near future. It's family bonding time!

"There are two kinds of men and only two. And that young man is one kind. He is high-minded. He is pure. He's the kind of man the world pretends to look up to, and in fact despises. He is the kind of man who breeds unhappiness, particularly in women. Do you understand?

I think you do. There's another kind. Not high-minded, not pure, but alive. Now, that your tastes at this time should incline towards the juvenile is understandable; but for you to marry that boy would be a disaster. Because there's two kinds of women. There are two kinds of women and you, as we well know, are not the first kind. You, my dear, are a slut."
-Komarovsky, Doctor Zhivago-