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More Faithful to the Book - Many Performances are Superior to the Corresponding 1965 Performances
on October 25, 2016
This is an excellent retelling of Dr. Zhivago. I understand that this version is more faithful to the book than the 1965 classic film directed by David Lean. This mini series does not achieve the sweeping rush of events surrounding Russia that we saw in the 1965 version and its musical score cannot hold a candle to the majestic Lara's Song of that 1965 version.
However, this 2002 version is more intimate and shows these people more as Pasternak probably intended. For example, Keira Knightley is 17 years old when she made this movie which is the age that Lara is when we first meet her. This is very helpful because Knightley carries off the virginal Lara being defiled by Komarovsky much better than the more worldly Julie Christy played Lara in 1965. Sam Neill's Komarovsky feels much more menacing and reprehensible as he manipulates Lara into an inappropriate sexual relationship. Another point I like about this 2002 version is that Hans Matheson looks like he could be Russian. Omar Sharif who played Dr. Zhivago in the 1965 version is a much superior actor to Matheson but he physically looks too dark for the role. I keep thinking of his magnificent performance in Lawrence of Arabia whenever I see Sharif playing Zhivago. Lastly, I thought the actor who plays Pasha/Strelnikov in the 2002 version much superior to the corresponding performance in 1965. Similarly, I thought the actress who played Dr. Zhivago's wife in the 2002 version is superior to Geraldine Chaplin's performance in 1965.
Also, there are numerous details to the story that are different. For example, Yuri Zhivago loses his father to suicide at the beginning of the 2002 version, instead of losing his mother to an unexplained cause of death in the 1965 movie. I found these numerous details fascinating and it causes me to want to read the book.
On balance, the cinematography and Alex Guiness' performance make the 1965 version of Dr. Zhivago one of the best movies ever made. I think this 2002 mini-series just fills some of the gaps that we do not learn in the 1965 version, but it is still very enjoyable and I highly recommend it.
On balance, the 1965 version is much better because of its cinematography