FILMS… Doctor Zhivago (1965)



A Duo of Doctor Zhivago Trailers…


Lean on Russia and a Film Partly Filmed Anywhere But!


Doctor Zhivago – Original Theatrical Trailer, Warner Bros and photos © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer


Today I’m reviewing two trailers on Doctor Zhivago (1965). This as Darlin Husband said part of this movie, was filmed over here in Finland at a location near the Russian border. On research, I found out that Finland is seen in many of the railway scenes, the march of the refugees and much of the winter backdrop in the film.

All these are illustrated in the bottom trailer which was made more recently. I personally feel this trailer is not as charming and informative as the original one above. The film was also filmed in Canada and Spain, with marble used as snow in the latter. These locations were used as the Doctor Zhivago book was banned in Russia at the time of filming.

It wasn’t just Doctor Zhivago where Finland stood in as “Russia” as many movies were filmed here at this time and later. Both the Million Dollar Brain (1967) and Gorky Park (1983) were also filmed in Finnish towns. This as the buildings here are quite similar to Russian architecture and due to the then Cold War restrictions. One of the first films made after the Cold War was The Russia House (1990) and in TV, interestingly Dallas (1978-91). The former reviewed HERE but the latter another story for another day.

Doctor Zhivago is one of those lavish, hours long epics David Lean is so famous for. With this film over 3 hours and 20 mins long. It also has the claim to fame as my gran’s favourite film with her no 1 crush, the always charismatic Omar Sharif in the leading titular role. Omar has both good looks and a lovely accent, so he’s the equivalent of that young Helmut Berger in Dorian Gray (1970) for me (but hearing Berger’s voice, in Dynasty (1981-89) as he was sadly dubbed). Or possibly Outlander (2014-)’s Sam Heughan for many of you.

So in the first truly random review trailer, I’m looking back at both these film’s previews…and first briefly the film plot. Doctor Zhivago tells the tale of KGB Lieutenant General Yevgraf Andreyevich Zhivago (Alec Guinness) who is looking for his half-brother Doctor Yuri Andreyevich Zhivago and Lara’s daughter. He meets a young woman, Tanya Komarova (Rita Tushingham) who he believes may be her, he tells her parent’s life stories. The film telling of pre-World War I Russia to the end of the Russian Civil War.

Over this time Yuri (Omar Sharif) – an aspiring poet – trains and becomes a doctor. Lara has a tempestuous affair with Victor Ippolitovich Komarovsky (Rod Steiger) but marries Pasha (Tom Courtney), an idealistic reformer who becomes a more intense socialist. Yuri marries Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin) the daughter of a family friend. Over the years Yuri and Lara (Julie Christie), cross paths many times, and in time they fall in love and start an affair. But it’s more complicated.

The 1965 trailer is like many trailers made in the 1960s with groovy font, and one of those trailer voices (I miss so much) masterfully mansplaining the film.  The music the more than a memorable Lara’s Theme. It also tells you about the book. This a stark contrast to the newer arty-farty version which should have these attributes, but doesn’t for some inexplicable reason.

The newer tbh kinda lost my interest too quickly after Alec Guinness says he’s looking for someone… but not saying who so could be anyone really. The older trailer, however, captures the ambience easily showing the time, the history and the romance. This opposed to the more bland newer one which doesn’t seem to encompass anything but a kind of a confusing mess of these three factors. This with a more sterile font and a few random quotes.

The original was kind of endearing as it outlined many, many of the characters and the actor playing this role. Most of these characters weren’t even seen or mentioned in the newer one. The original trailer style also reminded me of an 80s mini-series trailer. These including those based on the bońkbusters such as Lace (1984) eg Joan Collins is x, a gutsy determined woman who blah blah.

This original trailer is in the way I’d like to see trailers made now…I’d love to see a version of this kinda trailer if you looking to be inspired, Mr Ryan Reynolds. If you want a 5 times Oscar-Winning film, with an epic history lesson and added romance.. and see a wee bit of Finland. This is just what the Doctor ordered…


Doctor Zhivago (New Trailer 2015) – In cinemas 27 Nov | BFI release, BFI


David Lean Blogathon 2018, No 37

This is the second of two trailer reviews added to Maddy Loves Her Classic Films David Lean Blogathon. Other reviews with this cast include Geraldine Chaplin in The Crown and Chaplin. Omar Sharif stars in Juggernaut and Top Secret. Julie Christie in Billy Liar and Heaven Can Wait. Alec Guinness stars in The Ladykillers and Bridge on the River Kwai.  Rod Steiger stars in Mars Attacks and Columbo. Ralph Richardson starred in The Wrong Box.




12 thoughts on “FILMS… Doctor Zhivago (1965)

  1. Such a stunning and beautiful film to look at. It’s not my favourite Lean film, but it is worth watching as one of the last truly great epics. The music and photography are gorgeous. I think even if someone hasn’t seen this one, then they’ll probably have heard the theme music at some point in their life.

    • Is the newer one the Sam Neill one? I have so many favourites from David Lean. The Passionate Friends, Lawrence Of Arabia, Brief Encounter, Oliver Twist and Summertime are some that I really love. I also think that Ryan’s Daughter gets a hard time (it has its faults for sure)but it isn’t as bad as some people make it out to be.

    • I’ll have to have a look at them. I remember watching the Sam Neill version and not really enjoying it.

  2. Zhivago is not a movie to be taken lightly. I feel like you almost have to be alone for a weekend with the phone off to really enjoy it. You know, it is worth it.

    I don’t believe I ever thought about the locations previously. Kind of cool that Canada has a hand or foot in there somewhere.

    • Definitely agree, seems it was Morley Flats in Alberta…. think the would qualify for the O Canada Blogathon for this alone? (Seems more likely than a Finnish one, but I could be wrong!)

  3. I had butterflies in my stomach the first times I watched this film because I couldn’t wait to see where the film would go next. This film is a tragic love story that is exceptionally directed by Lean with a marvelous cast. Rod Steiger made the character of Komarovski come alive and gave one of the finest performances in the film. Though the run-time is long, I never got the impression that the film dragged on in any way and never once looked at my watch. This is a brilliant movie, the likes of which will probably never be made again.

Love your thoughts... but only if they are spoiler free!

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