Doctor Zhivago (film)

1965 film directed by David Lean
(Redirected from Doctor Zhivago)

Doctor Zhivago is a 1965 Italian-American film about the life of a Russian physician and poet who, although married to another, falls in love with a political activist's wife and experiences hardship during the First World War and then the October Revolution.

But if people love poetry, they love poets. And nobody loves poetry like a Russian.
Directed by David Lean. Written by Robert Bolt, based on the novel by Boris Pasternak.
A Love Caught in the Fire of Revolution.taglines
Come on! Comrades! Earth-shakers! SHOW THEM! CHARGE!
"This Lenin - will he be the new Czar, then?"
"Daddy - no more Czars! No more masters! Only workers in a workers' state! How about that?!"
"I command this unit!
"We command jointly! The Party bulletin expressly states-"
"Bah! I could have you taken out and shot!"
"And could you have the Party taken out and shot?"

Yevgraf Zhivago

  • In bourgeois terms it was a war between the Allies and Germany. In Bolshevik terms it was a war between the Allied and German upper classes - and which of them won was a matter of indifference.
    • on World War I
  • They [the warring powers] were shouting for victory all over Europe—praying for victory to the same God. My task—the Party's task—was to organize defeat. From defeat would spring the Revolution...and the Revolution would be victory for us
    • on World War I
  • The Party looked to the conscript peasants. Most of them were in their first good pair of boots. When the boots wore out, they'd be ready to listen. When the time came, I was able to take three battalions with me out of the front lines; the best day's work I ever did.
  • Happy men don't volunteer. They wait their turn, and thank god if their age or work delays it.
  • Even Comrade Lenin underestimated both the anguish of that nine hundred mile-long front, and our cursed capacity for suffering.
  • I told myself it was beneath my dignity to arrest a man for pilfering firewood. But nothing ordered by the Party is beneath the dignity of any man. And the Party was right: one man desperate for a bit of fuel is pathetic; five million people desperate for fuel will destroy a city.
    • on seeing Zhivago pulling wood from a fence
  • That was the first time I ever saw my brother. But I knew him. And I knew I would disobey the Party. Perhaps it was the tie of blood between us, but I doubt it; we were only half-tied anyway, and brothers will betray a brother. Indeed, as a policeman I would say get hold of a man's brother and you're half-way home. Nor was it admiration for a better man than me. I did admire him; but I didn't think he was a better man. Besides, I've executed better men than me with a small pistol.
  • She'd come to Moscow to look for her child. I helped her as best I could, but I knew it was hopeless. I think I was a little in love with her. One day she went away and didn't come back. She died or vanished somewhere, in one of the Labour Camps. A nameless number on a list that was afterwards mislaid. That was quite common in those days.
    • of Lara
  • But if people love poetry, they love poets. And nobody loves poetry like a Russian.

Viktor Komarovsky

  • No doubt they'll sing in tune after the revolution...
    • breaking the uneasy silence in an expensive restaurant caused by the singing of a Bolshevik demonstration on the street outside
  • And don't delude yourself this was rape. That would flatter us both.
    • after forcing himself on Lara
  • Yuri Andreievich, you spent two years with the partisans, fifth division. You have no discharge so you are a deserter. Your family in Paris is involved in a dangerous émigré organisation. Now all these are technicalities. But your style of life; everything you say and think, your published writings are all flagrantly subversive. Your days are numbered unless I help you. Do you want my help?
  • But don't you see her position? She's served her purpose. These men who came with me today as an escort will come for her and the child tomorrow as a firing squad! Now I know exactly what you think of me, and why. But if you're not coming with me, she's not coming with me. So are you coming with me? Do you accept the protection of this ignoble Caliban on any terms that Caliban cares to make? Or is your delicacy so exorbitant that you would sacrifice a woman and a child to it?
  • [Reeling drunk] We're all made of the same clay, you know! Clay! Claaaaay!!

Pasha Antipov / Strelnikov

  • There'll be no more peaceful demonstrations. There were women and children, Lara, and they rode them down. Starving women asking for bread. And up on Tamskaya Avenue the pigs were eating and drinking and dancing.
  • You put your knife with a fork and a spoon and it looks quite innocuous. Perhaps you travel with a wife and child for the same reason.
    • while interrogating Zhivago
  • I shouldn't admire it now. I should find it absurdly personal. Don't you agree? Feelings, insights, affections... it's suddenly trivial now. You don't agree; you're wrong. The personal life is dead in Russia. History has killed it. [...] The private life is dead - for a man with any manhood.
    • after telling Zhivago that he used to admire his poetry


  • Long Live Anarchy! Lickspittle! Bureaucrat!
  • I am a free man, Lickspittle, and there's nothing you can do about it. I am the only free man on this train. The rest of you are cattle!


  • A body, styling itself the Yuriatin Committee of Revolutionary Justice, has expropriated my house. In the name of the people. Very well. I'm one of the people too!
    [He picks up a shovel and makes to force his way in.]
  • They've shot the Czar, and all his family. Oh, that's a savage deed.


Engineer: If they were to give me two more excavators, I'd be a year ahead with the plan by now.
Yevraf: You're an impatient generation.
Engineer: Weren't you?
Yevgraf: Yes, we were. Very. Oh, don't be too impatient, Comrade Engineer; we've come very far, very fast.
Engineer: Yes, I know that Comrade General.
Yevgraf: Yes, but do you know what it cost..? There were children in those days who lived off human flesh, did you know that?

Yevgraf: This is a new edition of the Lara poems.
Engineer: Yes, I know. We admire your brother very much.
Yevgraf: Yes, everybody seems to.. now.
Engineer: Well, we couldn't admire him when we weren't allowed to read him...
Yevgraf: ...No.

The Girl: I'm not your niece, Comrade General.
Yevgraf: Well, I'm nobody's idea of an uncle, but if this man were my father, I should want to know.

Lara: I-I'm going now, Viktor.
Komarosvsky: Whenever you like dear. You see, you'll always come back.

[Komarovsky meets Lara's future husband.]
Komarovsky: Pavel Pavlovich; my chief impression - and I mean no offence - is that you're very young.
Pasha Antipov: Monsieur Komarovsky; I hope I don't offend you. Do people improve with age?
Komarovsky: They grow a little more tolerant.
Pasha Antipov: Because they have more to tolerate in themselves. If people don't marry young, what do they bring to their marriage?
Komarovsky: A little experience.

Komarovsky: [speaking of Pasha Antipov] Lara, I am determined to save you from a dreadful error. There are two kinds of men, and only two, and that young man is one kind. He is high-minded. He is pure. He is the kind of man that the world pretends to look up to and in fact despises. He is the kind of man who breeds unhappiness; particularly in women. Now, do you understand?
Lara: No.
Komarovsky: I think you do. There's another kind. Not high-minded. Not pure. But alive. Now that your taste at this time should incline towards the juvenile is understandable. But for you to marry that boy would be a disaster. Because there's two kinds of women. [Lara puts her hands to her ears; he snatches them away] There are two kinds of women and you - as we well know - are not the first kind. [Lara slaps him. He slaps her back, harder] You, my dear, are a slut.
Lara: I am not!
Komarovsky: We'll see.

[the camera shows a group of dejected-looking Russian soldiers in a trench, staring out across a snowy no-man's land during World War I as Yevgraf narrates]
Yevgraf: "By the second winter of the war, the boots had worn out... but the line still held. Their great coats fell to pieces on their backs. Their rations were irregular. Half of them went into action without arms, led by men they didn't trust."
Officer: [leaps up on top of trench with a saber drawn] Come on, you bastards!
Yevgraf: "And those they did trust..."
Pasha: [jumps out of the trench waving his rifle] Come on, comrades! Come on!
[the Russian soldiers hesitantly follow Pasha as the German guns open fire]
Pasha: Come on! Comrades! Earth-shakers! SHOW THEM! CHARGE!
[Pasha is hit by several artillery explosions; the rest of the Russian soldiers retreat back to their trench. Cut to Russian soldiers beginning to leave their trenches and desert.]
Yevgraf: "At last, they did what all the armies dreamed of doing - they began to go home. That was the beginning of the Revolution."

Lara: You know, you often look at me as if you knew me.
Yuri: I have seen you before. Four years ago. Christmas Eve. [when Lara shot Komarovsky at a party which Zhivago was attending]
Lara: Were you there? No wonder you look at me. Did you know Viktor Komarovsky?
Yuri: Yes I did. That young man who took you away -
Lara: My husband.
Yuri: Lot of courage. He made the rest of us look very feeble. As a matter of fact, I thought you both did. Good man to shoot at.
Lara: I'd give anything never to have met him.

Sergei: This Lenin - will he be the new Czar, then?
Kuril: Listen Daddy - no more Czars! No more masters! Only workers in a workers' state! How about that?!

[Yevgraf meets Yuri and his family. Whilst Yevgraf appears on the screen, we never hear his on-screen words but his voice-over instead.]
Yevgraf: "I told them who I was. The old man was hostile, the girl, cautious. My brother... seemed very pleased. I think the girl was the only one who guessed at their position."
Yuri: You're just as I imagined you. You're my political conscience.
Yevgraf: "I asked him - hadn't he one of his own? [laughs] And so he talked about the revolution."
Yuri: You lay life on a table and you cut out all the tumours of injustice. Marvellous.
Yevgraf: "I told him if he felt like that he should join the party."
Yuri: Ah, but cutting out the tumours of injustice - that's a deep operation. Someone must keep life alive while you do it. By living. Isn't that right?
Yevgraf: "I thought then it was wrong. He told me what he thought about the party and I trembled for him. He approved of us, but for reasons which were subtle, like his verse. Approval such as his could vanish overnight. I told him so."
Yuri: Well, of course I can't approve this evening something you may do tomorrow.
Yevgraf: "He was walking about with a noose round his neck and didn't know. So I told him what I'd heard about his poems."
Yuri: Not... liked? Not liked by whom? Why not liked?
Yevgraf: "So I told him that."
Yuri: Do you think it's "personal, petit-bourgeoise and self-indulgent"?
[On the screen, Yevgraf nods and says "yes".]
Yevgraf: "I lied. But he believed me, and it struck me through to see that my opinion mattered. The girl knew what it meant, what it was going to mean. They couldn't survive what was coming in the city. I urged them to leave and live obscurely somewhere in the country where they could keep themselves alive."
Tonya: We have - used to have - an estate at Varykino, near Yuriatin. People know us there.
Yevgraf: "He didn't resist. I offered to obtain permits, passes, warrants; I told them what to take, and what to leave behind. I had the impertinence to ask him for a volume of his poems. And so we parted. I think I even told him that we would meet again in better times... but perhaps I didn't."

[Zhivago has been captured by Partisans.]
Partisan Commander: Comrade Doctor, I need a medical officer.
Zhivago: I'm sorry, I have a wife and child in Varykino-
Commissar: And a mistress in Yuriatin.
[The commander laughs.]
Partisan Commander: Comrade Medical Officer, we are Red Partisans, and we shoot deserters.

Partisan Commander: I command this unit!
Commissar: We command jointly! The Party bulletin expressly states-
[The Commander knocks the Commissar's papers off the table.]
Partisan Commander: Bah! I could have you taken out and shot!
Commissar: And could you have the Party taken out and shot?

[Komarovsky arrives in Yuriatin.]
Zhivago: I think you'd better go.
Komarovsky: Your rarified selfishness is intolerable. Larissa's in danger too.
Zhivago: By association with me?!
Komarovsky: No, not by association with you; you're small fry. By association with Strelnikov.
Lara: I've never met Strelnikov.
Komarovsky: You're married to Strelnikov! They know that.
Lara: I was married to Pasha Antipov.
Komarovsky: I understand, I understand... but they don't.

[Komarovsky returns.]
Komarovsky: Strelnikov is dead.
Zhivago: What?!
Komarovsky: Spare me your expressions of regret. He was a murderous neurotic of no use to anyone. Do you see how this affects Larissa? You don't. You're a fool. She's Strelnikov's wife. Why do you think they haven't arrested her – is this the usual practice? Why do you think they had her watched at Yuriatin? They were waiting for Strelnikov.
Zhivago: If they thought Strelnikov would come running to his wife, they didn't know him...
Komarovsky: They knew him well enough. He was only five miles from here when they caught him. He was arrested on the open road. He didn't conceal his identity – indeed throughout the interview he insisted they call him Pavel Antipov, which is his right name, and refused to answer to the name Strelnikov. On his way to execution he took a pistol from one of the guards and blew his own brains out.
Zhivago: Oh my god... don't tell Lara this.
Komarovsky: I think I know Lara at least as well as you. But don't you see how this affects her position? She's served her purpose. These men that came with me today as an escort will come for her and the child tomorrow as a firing squad! Now, I know exactly what you think of me, and why, but if you're not coming with me she's not coming with me. So – are you coming with me? Do you accept the protection of this ignoble Caliban on any terms that Caliban cares to make... or is your... delicacy... so exorbitant that you would sacrifice a woman and a child to it?

Yevgraf: This man was your father. Why won't you believe it? Don't you want to believe it?
The Girl: Not if it isn't true.
Yevgraf: That's inherited...

Yevgraf: Tonya - can you play the balalaika?
David: [her boyfriend] Can she play?! She's an artist!
Yevgraf: And who taught you?
David: No-one taught her!
Yevgraf: Ah... then it's a gift.


  • A Love Caught in the Fire of Revolution.
  • In a world of guns and ice there is the great noise of battle and the greater silence of lovers.
  • Turbulent were the times and fiery was the love story of Zhivago, his wife and the passionate, tender Lara.