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Doctor Zhivago
Directed by David Lean
Produced by Carlo Ponti
Screenplay by Robert Bolt
Starring Omar Sharif
Julie Christie
Tom Courtenay
Alec Guinness
Geraldine Chaplin
Rod Steiger
Music by Maurice Jarre
Cinematography Freddie Young
Nicolas Roeg (Uncredited)
Editing by Norman Savage
Studio Sostar S.A.
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) 22 December 1965 (1965-12-22) (US)
26 April 1966 (1966-04-26) (UK)
10 December 1966 (1966-12-10) (Italy)
28 September 1999 (1999-09-28) (US re-release)
Running time 197 minutes
193 minutes (UK)
200 minutes (1992 re-release)
192 minutes (1999 re-release)
Country Italy
United States
Language English
Budget $11 million
Money made $245 million

Doctor Zhivago is a 1965 epic romantic drama movie. The movie is about life in Russia before and during World War I and during the Russian Civil War from 1917-1922. The movie is based on a novel of the same name. It was written by Boris Pasternak. The movie was banned in the Soviet Union. It could not be made there and also could not be shown in theatres after it was released. It was first shown in Russia in 1994. The movie was directed by David Lean.

Critics complained when the movie was released because its running time was over three hours. Also, critics thought that the history in the movie was not told correctly. Over time, opinions changed. Now it is thought by the public to be one of David Lean's best movies. It was ranked by the American Film Institute in 1998 as the 39th greatest American movie of all time.

The movie won five Academy Awards. It was entered into the 1966 Cannes Film Festival.


Geraldine Chaplin - Omar Sharif
Geraldine Chaplin with Omar Sharif in Doctor Zhivago


The Doctor Zhivago novel was published in 1957 outside Russia, in Western countries. The book caused both praise and controversy. Some of Boris Pasternak's story had been available in Samizdat for some time after World War II. But the novel did not get written until 1956.

The book had to be smuggled out of the Soviet Union, because their government banned it for its views against Communism. It was taken by a trusted friend to an Italian publisher who printed and released it. Many people heard about the book because of the Soviet Union actions taken against the novel. It became very popular in the non-communist world. It spent 26 weeks at the top of the New York Times best-seller list.

A great poet who wrote about how he felt, Pasternak was awarded the 1958 Nobel Prize in Literature. Even though the award was given for his poetry, it was known that the prize was mainly for Doctor Zhivago. The Soviet Union saw this Nobel Prize as a personal attack against their government itself. Pasternak was said to be a traitor by their leaders, so he refused to accept the Prize. The public now thought Pasternak was a Cold War symbol of rebellion against Soviet communism.

The movie plot was the same as the novel in some ways, but some changes were made. Many critics said that the movie gave too much attention to the love story between Zhivago and Lara. This downplayed the events of the Russian Revolution and the civil war that it caused.

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