Doctor Zhivago (1965)

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Released 6-Dec-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Introduction-Omar Sharif
Audio Commentary-Omar Sharif (Actor), Sandra Lean & Rod Steiger (Actor)
Isolated Musical Score
Listing-Cast & Crew
Audio-Only Track-Premiere; David Lean Interview, 2 others
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Behind The Camera With David Lean
Featurette-David Lean's Film Of Doctor Zhivago
Featurette-Moscow In Madrid
Interviews-Cast-New York Press Interviews Julie Christie
Interviews-Cast-New York Press Interviews Omar Sharif
Featurette-Geraldine Chaplin Screen Test
Featurette-This Is Julie Christie; Geraldine Chaplin; Omar Sharif
Featurette-Chaplin In New York
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1965
Running Time 192:05
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (42:09)
FLIPPER (114:41)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Lean

Warner Home Video
Starring Omar Sharif
Julie Christie
Geraldine Chaplin
Rod Steiger
Alec Guinness
Tom Courtenay
Ralph Richardson
Siobahn McKenna
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI $34.95 Music Maurice Jarre

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Doctor Zhivago is a sweeping epic movie and a true classic. It is a love story set during turbulent times of war and revolution. The DVD is truly sublime, both in the quality of its content and transfer.

    In the rich tradition of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, Boris Pasternak wrote the weighty Russian novel, 'Doctor Zhivago'. Inspired by his own life, Pasternak spent ten years writing the novel. It was smuggled out of Russia in 1957 and published in Italian. Soon, however, the novel was translated and published in a number of languages. In 1958, Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his achievement in literature, but the Soviet Government would not allow him to accept the award. The novel was banned in Russia, and it only became available in 1988. Indeed, the movie could only be legally screened there from 1994. The novel 'Doctor Zhivago' is a love story, and not a political story. However, as the story is set largely during revolutionary and post-revolutionary Russia, it caused quite a stir, as the novel did not paint life in the idealised Communist model. Rather, the story featured flawed characters, making do in a flawed Socialist State.

    In 1963, following the release of Lawrence Of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago became David Lean's next movie project. The 700 page novel was adapted into a screenplay by Robert Bolt. Bolt remains one of the greatest screenwriters of all time. He wrote a number of wonderful scripts, including the screenplays for Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Ryan's Daughter, The Bounty, and The Mission. Lean, of course, remains one of the greatest directors of all time, directing movies such as Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, The Bridge On The River Kwai, Lawrence Of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Ryan's Daughter, and A Passage To India.

    In fact, the talent that worked on this movie, in both the cast and crew, is exceptional. The movie was made during 1964 and 1965, and it became a great commercial success on its release. While some critics saw the movie as a glorified soap opera, it won six Academy Awards, including Oscars for its Screenplay, Musical Score, Cinematography, Art/Set Direction, and Costumes (The Sound Of Music won Best Picture that year). Doctor Zhivago also picked up the Golden Globe awards for Best Film, Actor and Director.

    The movie is over three hours long, and it covers a significant period of time. There are a number of characters, so my plot synopsis will be a little simplistic: Set in pre-revolutionary Moscow, Zhivago (Omar Sharif) is a doctor, and a passionate poet. He marries the devoted Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin), and they live a comfortable life of some luxury. WWI breaks out, and Zhivago finds himself as a doctor on the front line. There he meets the beautiful and kind nurse, Lara (Julie Christie), and finds himself drawn to her. The Russian Revolution effectively ends Russia's involvement in WWI, and Zhivago returns home to find that his family are now living in squalor. He and his family flee Moscow for the country. In a small town, Zhivago happens to meet Lara again. She now finds herself in a loveless marriage, with an absent husband. Zhivago, a devoted family man, wrestles with his conscience, as his feelings for Lara deepen.

    As one would expect with a epic story of this scale, there are a number of sub-plots and other interesting characters. There are also great performances from some of the supporting cast, such as Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness and Ralph Richardson. The overall production is detailed and lavish, and the movie is a real treat to watch on this DVD.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer was taken from a telecine of a new internegative, and it is brilliant.

    The transfer presents the movie in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness, black level, and shadow detail are all great. There are many detailed and intricate scenes, and many intentionally dark and shadowy scenes. This movie demands a great transfer, and it got one.

    Colour is used throughout this movie to assist with the storytelling. For example, many of the scenes of Moscow are intentionally muted in colour. The colour throughout is terrific, although the flesh tones appear a little orange or brown. I had expected the image overall to be a little faded, but bright yellows and reds burst forth from the screen.

    There were no MPEG artefacts to complain of.

    In regards to film-to-video artefacts, there was some very slight aliasing in the form of a slight shimmer on certain objects, such as the shimmer on the windows at 20:47. There was also very slight telecine wobble on occasion, such as during the opening credits. I must add, however, that both of these artefacts were so mild that they are hardly worth mentioning.

    This movie is, amazingly, virtually film artefact free. A few tiny black or white flecks appear, but they are few and far between. An example of one of these tiny flecks appears on Side B at 17:15.

    At times there appeared to be slight edge enhancement, but I never found it distracting.

    There are six sets of subtitles present, and the English subtitles are slightly simplified, but accurate.

    This is a dual-sided RSDL disc. There are 114:41 minutes on Side A, with the layer change placed between Chapters 13 and 14, at 42:09. It is very smooth and as it is between scenes, it is not disruptive. I did not spot a layer change on Side B, and suspect that the 77:24 minutes on Side B fitted nicely onto one layer. The time to flip the disc is at 114:41, which is at 'intermission', so it is appropriate.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Originally released theatrically in Magnetic Stereo, with 6-track audio for the 70mm version, this movie has been remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 for this DVD.

    Apart from the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, there are also Italian and Isolated Music Score audio tracks, both in Dolby Digital 5.1. The Audio Commentary is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.

    The dialogue quality is fine, but the audio sync sometimes appears to be very slightly out on the English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. However, I never found this too distracting.

    The Oscar and Grammy winning musical score is by Maurice Jarre, and features the well-known 'Lara's Theme'. While at times becoming a little repetitive, the theme and the instrumentation for this movie certainly give it a strong Russian feel. There are also the lush orchestral arrangements, as befits any epic romantic movie.

    Considering that this movie was originally in stereo, the surround presence and activity is astonishing. The rear speakers are used subtly but effectively to help carry the score and provide ambience throughout the movie. A good example of great surround activity came during the snow storm at 18:43.

    The subwoofer is also utilised very subtly and effectively to support both the score, and the sound effects, such as the rumbling train at 108:49.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras are plentiful and genuine, as evidenced by the extra disc required to hold them. Unless stated otherwise, all extras are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.


    A very simple menu, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Introduction (1:40)

    Omar Sharif provides a brief introduction to the movie.

Audio Commentary

    Omar Sharif provides an enthusiastic commentary, and he is joined by Sandra Lean (widow of David Lean). Rod Steiger also makes a number of interesting comments, although his commentary appears to have been recorded separately.

Isolated Music Score

Listing -- Cast & Crew

    Text-based information about the main cast and crew members.

Audio-Only track

    I assume that these were taken from radio broadcasts, as over a static screen we hear: The Premiere; David Lean Interview; and a few other snippets.

Doctor Zhivago: The Making of a Russian Epic (60:27)

    Unlike the usual advertorial rubbish that parades as a 'making of', this is actually a genuine 'making of', and a very interesting documentary. This documentary is not only about the challenges of making this movie, but of making movies generally. Made in 1995, the documentary includes interviews with many of the main cast and crew, and is narrated by Omar Sharif.

Behind The Camera With David Lean (10:13)

    While this contains a lot of material included in the above documentary, it remains interesting.

Moscow In Madrid (4:28)

    This looks specifically at how the crew created authentic-looking Moscow street scenes in Madrid..

Pasternak (8:51)

    A short but interesting documentary on the Russian author.

New York Press Interviews

    1960s interviews with Julie Christie (10:08) and Omar Sharif (18:54).

Screen Test (3:15)

    Geraldine Chaplin's screen test.

This is Julie Christie; Geraldine Chaplin; Omar Sharif

    Short 1960s promotional pieces on Julie Christie (1:06); Geraldine Chaplin (1:09); and Omar Sharif (1:38)

Chaplin in New York (2:15)

    Short 1960s promotional piece on Geraldine Chaplin visiting New York City.

Theatrical Trailer (3:34)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.


    Text-based information about the movie's awards.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Doctor Zhivago was released on DVD in Region 1 in November 2001.

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    The two versions are pretty much the same, although the R1 reportedly suffers from a great deal of edge enhancement. I would favour the local release anyway for its affordability, and its superior PAL image.


    Doctor Zhivago is a feast for the eyes and ears, and this DVD provides the best presentation of the movie that I have ever seen. In fact, watching this movie in its original widescreen format, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, was like seeing the movie for the first time. If you, like I, love epic movies, then I thoroughly recommend this movie as a rental or a purchase. If you are already a fan of Doctor Zhivago, then run (don't walk) to the shops and snap this up.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is also excellent.

    The extras are genuine, comprehensive and fascinating.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Saturday, May 04, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Thanks to Simon Howson for his contribution - Brandon (warning: bio hazard)