Monday, May 17, 2010
Contest - "Doctor Zhivago" on DVD or Blu-ray
As mentioned on this post of May 3rd, we’re giving away a copy of director David Lean’s classic “Doctor Zhivago”, in your choice of either DVD or Blu-ray. A new restoration has been released for the 45th anniversary of the film, and this package has a lot of extra goodies.
First, to enter the contest, between now and Thursday noon, Eastern Time, when we pick the winner, just leave a comment below stating you want the movie. That’s all you have to do. The name is drawn out of a hat. Come back Thursday to see if you’ve won, and if you did, email me at:
...with the address to which you’d like your DVD or Blu-ray to be sent. Neither the address nor your name will be published. I’ll contact the folks who are donating the prize, and they’ll ship it to you directly.
This new release of the film by Warner Home Video is stunning. Of course, you’ll probably remember the film was stunning to begin with, and there are so many images from it we may recall long after we have digested the love story, the political angles, and the tempestuous backdrop of the Russian Revolution.
My gosh, the color. The time spent on images in this film is luxury to enjoy. Today we seem to be rushed by the director to hustle the plot along, like an irritable waiter who keeps showing up at your table to move you out of the restaurant as quickly as possible. This film is like an eight-course meal with servants standing silently in the background refilling your wine glass so discreetly that you barely notice. Despite the enormity of the events in the film, there is something relaxing about it.
Oh, yes, we have an Overture. We have an “Entr’acte”, with that haunting, lovely, refrain of “Lara’s Theme”, theme. The snowflakes on the windowpane, the distant snow-capped Ural Mountains burst upon us as we emerge from a dark train tunnel. The delight in observation (which in turn makes us observe) of the lead character, Dr. Zhivago, played soulfully by Omar Sharif. That eyes-filling-with-tears as he watches the street massacre below, and the horror is reflected in his face, but we are barely subjected to any graphic images of violence, only the meaning of it. His horror, and his joys, both are wordless. And the balalaika that follows him like a conscience.
A shaft of sunlight glowing through a dark forest, and a vase of immense sunflowers that drop their petals. A field of yellow daffodils. This is a beautiful, beautiful film.
And how interesting that something so ethereal about a bloody revolution whose consequences were felt by the entire world for decades afterwards could be filmed with such empathy during the Cold War. It wasn’t until the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, that “Doctor Zhivago” was shown in Russia, and the novel by Boris Pasternak, who was awarded a Nobel Prize, was published there in 1988, just before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The special features of this 45th anniversary release alone are worth it. There is a documentary, “Doctor Zhivago: A Celebration Part 1 & 2” (all-new production). Also: commentary by Omar Sharif, Rod Steiger and Lady Sandra Lean, and “Doctor Zhivago: The Making of a Russian Epic” which has candid reminiscences by Omar Sharif, Rod Steiger and Geraldine Chaplin. This is the sort of nuts-and-bolts behind the scenes stuff I love, and it is fascinating. They even explain how they achieved the sunflowers dropping their petals moment.
Eleven vintage featurettes are included, among them New York press interviews with Omar Sharif and with Julie Christie, and Geraldine Chaplin’s screen test. This is really quite a comprehensive package on this film, and provides such terrific background and context for your viewing of a beautifully restored “Doctor Zhivago.”
Let the contest begin.
FTC Disclosure: a review copy of the CD, and the contest prize, are provided by Warner Home Video.