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Facts For Editorial Reference About The Making Of David Lean’s Film Of Boris
Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago
A Carlo Ponti Production Presented By Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
|Read more at|
The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: Text
and images by M-G-M's
Publicity Department. From Sebastian Rosacker's Archive. Prepared for
in70mm.com by Brian Guckian, Ireland
TO THE PRESS: Because of the fame of the novel on which "DOCTOR ZHIVAGO" is based, the
epic scope of the story against a background of one of history's most
crucial periods, and the picture's distinguished producer, director and
cast, the M-G-M Publicity Department has prepared this factual service
Every effort has been made to incorporate in it the source material
uncovered during filming of the spectacular picture on vast locations in
Spain and Finland.
If further information in connection with the material or
production is desired, please communicate with: M-G-M Publicity Dept., 1540
Broadway, New York, N. Y., 10036.
|More in 70mm reading:|
The Latest Word From
METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER on DAVID LEAN’S Film of DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. From The
Novel By Boris Pasternak
70mm Blow Up List
1965 - by in70mm.com
"Doctor Zhivago," suppressed in the Soviet Union, has been called the only
truly great novel to come out of post-revolutionary Russia. Its publication
in translation, after the Soviet government had tried without success to
prevent it, was followed by award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to Boris
Pasternak, generally recognized as his country's finest modern writer. When
he was informed by Russian authorities that if he went to Sweden to accept
the prize he would not be permitted to return. Pasternak remained true to
his native land and regretfully declined the award.
It was Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, of Milan, who defied Russian authorities,
bringing "Doctor Zhivago" to the attention of the world by publishing it, in
Italian, on November 15, 1957. In September, 1958, it was first published in
the United States. Since then it has been translated into 28 languages,
including Arabic, Hebrew and Urdu. Its only publication in the original
Russian has been in a special edition prepared by the University of Michigan
In every country in which it has since appeared, "Doctor Zhivago" has been
acclaimed by critics as the outstanding literary achievement of this
century, written with extraordinary perception and poetic sensitivity. It is
a book in the epic tradition of Pasternak's predecessors, Tolstoy and
Dostoyevski: a drama which details — through its characters — the
environment and lives of the Russian people during the first half of the
twentieth century. As in "Gone With The Wind" and "War And Peace" it is set
against the revolutionary uprising of a suppressed people, and evokes the
complex twists and turns of their lives, the utter humanness of their needs,
in a society over which they have little control. It is a book which
questions the very root of human values and has the courage—despite its view
of suffering, poverty and sharp blows of fate—to make a positive statement
of faith in mankind.
Excerpts From Reviews Of The Novel
'"Dr. Zhivago' is a great novel of our times...unique in concept, poetic in
execution, devastating in power, suffused in delicately mystical philosophy,
deeply tender in romance, nakedly surgical in its dissection of political
folly, and honest in its conviction that man is a simple, if noble, figure
in a complex cosmos...Not since Tolstoy has so passionate a faith been
— THE SATURDAY REVIEW
"One of the most significant books of our time and a literary event of the
— NEW YORK TIMES
"It is a book a reader will never forget — a must for anyone who really
wants to understand Russia and the Russians."
— CHICAGO TRIBUNE
"A sweeping panorama of authentic history and of man's struggles, complete
with scores of characters in a fascinating interwoven tale. You will not
want to put it down until the last page."
— WASHINGTON POST AND TIMES HERALD
"The best novel to come out of prerevolutionary Russia. It is an affirmation
of belief in the individual as opposed to the mass, an article of faith in
humanism. But it is even more than this, it is a novel in the richest
tradition of 19th century Russian literature."
— LOS ANGELES TIMES
"Pasternak has truly achieved a triumph and has established himself among
the other immortals of great Russian and world literature."
— CATHOLIC REVIEW SERVICE
"It stands head and shoulders above anything else that has come out of 20th
century Russia and belongs with the greatest novels of the 19th."
— CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER
"This is not just a story of the Red revolution, it is more. Men and women
in an endlessly fascinating land, remote and exotic, fight the great battles
men and women have always fought, struggle with fate, break under grief and
tragedy, and rise splendidly to moments of ecstatic love."
— ASSOCIATED PRESS
"A truly great novel. Pasternak writes with a superb evocative power."
— NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
"Will...come to stand as one of the great events in man's literary and moral
history. His book is a great act of faith in art and in the human spirit."
— THE NEW YORKER
"Magnificent novel. When the Russian revolution is even further past than
the American revolution, interest in this book will persist because it is
writing of so excellent a quality, its characters will walk so close to its
readers, and the towns and fields of its events will be a part of our own
— HOUSTON POST
"A thrilling reading experience — not only for the insight it offers to the
Western reader, but, more important, it is the work of an artist."
— COLUMBUS DISPATCH
"This novel is a masterpiece of artistry and a monument to the troubled
times or revolutionary upheaval of which its hero, Dr. Zhivago, was a
detached but perceptive witness. It is Pasternak at his best."
— BALTIMORE SUNDAY SUN
"The book is a masterpiece. It has both grace and power. Here is a work of
extraordinary originality, strength and brilliance."
— ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
The Motion Picture
The story of "Doctor Zhivago," filled with the excitement of great events,
the fire and passion of human emotions, and the drama provoked by complex,
fascinating characters caught in the web of these events, is being brought
to the screen in Panavision and color by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Many companies sought motion picture rights to the novel following its
publication. Carlo Ponti, whose film productions have numbered some of the
most successful pictures in recent years, obtained the rights from Italian
publisher Feltrinelli in late 1962. Shortly thereafter he and Robert H.
O'Brien, President of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, began discussions about the
motion picture production. They agreed that David Lean would be the ideal
director to realize on the screen the full potential of the novel, with its
depiction of intimate human relations against a vast background of sweeping
Lean, whose two previous films, "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Lawrence
of Arabia," between them won practically every award in the book (including
a total of 14 Oscars), read the story while sailing from England to the
United States. Before reaching New York, he had made up his mind that not
only did he want to make a film of "Doctor Zhivago," he felt he had to do
so. The fascinating characters and the towering historic events against
which their story is etched made the perfect combination for a motion
picture that, he felt, could become both exciting and significant
entertainment. It was his immediate suggestion that he talk to Robert Bolt
to see if Bolt would be interested in writing the screenplay. Lean stated
that he felt that Bolt was one of the very few dramatists capable of writing
a screenplay from this novel. Bolt, whose play, "A Man For All Seasons," was
an international success, wrote the script for "Lawrence of Arabia" for
Lean. The producers were in full agreement. They had, from the first,
regarded Bolt as the best writer to collaborate with Lean.
More than a year before a camera would turn, Lean and Bolt began the
enormous task of developing Pasternak's highly complex story into a
screenplay, exploring every nuance of every character and the angles of
every situation in the novel. Eventually, Bolt wrote a lengthy treatment
from which a 284-page screenplay emerged.
Long before the script was written, however, John Box had been engaged as
Production Designer. He, too, had worked on "Lawrence of Arabia." Together,
Lean and Box travelled thousands of miles through Italy, Yugoslavia, the
Scandinavian countries and even to Canada, seeking the most suitable places
for filming. They eventually settled on Spain for most of the photography,
with scenes to be made in Finland and Canada.
It was decided to film interior scenes at the modern C.E.A. Studios in
Madrid. And on a ten-acre site in the outskirts of the Spanish capital was
constructed one of the most authentic sets in many years, built to represent
the Kremlin dominated streets of Moscow half a century ago. Other large
exterior sets were built in the mountains near Soria, 175 miles north of
To obtain highly important winter scenes, Lean moved the company to the
northernmost regions of Finland. Operating from head-quartets set up in
Joensuu, less than 75 miles from the Russian border, the unit often worked
in temperatures below zero to capture on film spectacular snow and blizzard
scenes. Additional winter sequences were photographed amid the majestic
Rocky mountains near Kicking Horse Pass in Canada's Calgary.
Determined to have actors and actresses who fitted the parts rather than
tailoring the roles to suit the performers, Lean did not give serious
thought to casting until the screenplay was completed. Omar Sharif, whose
performance in "Lawrence of Arabia" won him an Academy Award nomination, was
the director's first and only choice for the title role. For the two leading
feminine roles, both highly dramatic, two comparative newcomers were
selected. They are Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Charles Chaplin, who makes
her English-speaking screen debut in the role of Tonya; and Julie Christie,
one of the most brilliant younger actresses of the British stage, for the
part of Lara. Rounding out the cast of stars are: Tom Courtenay, among the
finest of England's younger actors; Alec Guinness, making his fifth
appearance in a Lean-directed film; Siobhan McKenna, product of Dublin's
famed Abbey Theatre; Ralph Richardson, also a veteran of several Lean
productions; Rod Steiger, one of America's most versatile stage and screen
actors; and Rita Tushingham who, like Miss Christie, has won praise in a
number of British films, as well as on the stage. Supporting the stars are
well known character actors from various parts of Europe.
Omar Sharif's eight-year-old son, Tarek, makes his acting debut portraying
his father as a young boy.
Chosen to write the musical score was Maurice Jarre, one of France's most
noted modern composers, whose music for "Lawrence of Arabia'' won him an
Heading the list of skilled artisans and technicians selected to work on the
production were many who had been associated with Lean on "Lawrence of
Arabia" or "River Kwai." These included, in addition to John Box, Director
of Photography Freddie Young, Costume Designer Phyllis Dalton and Art
Director Terence Marsh, with their ranks augmented by top Spanish
Arvid Griffen, Managing Director of MGM's British Studios, gave much time to
the project and eventually moved his headquarters and functions to Madrid so
that he could serve as executive producer on the film.
Actual filming began on a location site near Madrid on December 28, 1964.
Moscow in Madrid
When the shouts of Russian Revolutionists, the marching of heavy booted feet
and the chanting of "The Warshavianka" shattered the normal nocturnal
stillness of the tiny Madrid suburb of Canillas during the production of
"Doctor Zhivago," it marked the climax to almost a year of planning and
actual construction of one of the largest and most impressive film sets ever
constructed by a motion picture company for location shooting.
The scenes themselves were an authentic re-creation of one of the typical
demonstrations staged by workers, students and Bolsheviks in Moscow during
the early 20th century, when a rising Revolutionary spirit was sweeping
Russia. But they could not have been realized without the amazingly
realistic background provided by the 10-acre complex of Moscow streets in
which they were filmed.
Before the final scenes were shot, the set had been periodically altered
from its original 1905 snow-covered facades through four seasonal changes
over a 30-year span of the story.
The complex consisted of a half-mile long paved business street, dominated
by the famous Kremlin and complete with half a hundred shops; a tram line,
over which ran trolley cars of the period; a street in the factory workers'
section of the city with a viaduct and railway tracks above it; a square
featuring a statue of Alexander II on horseback; a police station; a church
and, most unusual of all, three complete interior settings and detailed
entranceways to six other interior settings, built on sound stages at the
Among impressive details of the huge street setting were the well-filled
shop windows, each representing a Russian business enterprise, with products
on display changed to correspond with the advancing years of the story.
Exterior signs and window lettering also had to undergo certain revisions to
conform to the minor changes in the Russian alphabet made during the story's
Street car tracks stretched the length of the street, with electricity for
the overhead trolley lines brought into the set from a power plant a quarter
of a mile away. The cars themselves were built in England early in the 20th
century and exported to Spain. From the main business street (of which only the visible sections were built
to give the illusion of actual height and size), narrow passageways led to a
contrasting street in the poor section of Moscow, paralleling its
better-dressed neighbor and terminating in a factory with tall twin
Facts And Figures On The Moscow Streets
Location: Madrid suburb of Canillas two miles from C.E.A. Studios.
Area of set and facilities: 10 acres. As many as 780 men worked on the set
over the 6 months period of construction.
These consisted of:
120 plaster specialists
25 tubular steel specialists
30 painters, including sign artists
10 welders 305 workmen (unskilled)
710,000 linear feet, or approximately 135 miles of tubular steel was used in
the framework. Some 90,000 fittings were required.
The lumber used consisted of:
170,000 linear feet of pine
46,200 square feet of hard board
95,000 square feet of plywood
42,000 feet of laths
44,500 square feet of cane screening (for inside walls)
32,800 square feet of asbestos sheets were used for practical roofing.
For streets and sidewalks a total of 65,000 square feet of concrete, 4
inches thick, was laid.
Approximately 55,000 hollow bricks were used and these were held together
and surfaced by 97,000 pounds of cement.
The mammoth plastering job required 1,110,350 pounds of plaster, 22,300
square yards of scrim cloth and 92,000 pints of Vermiculite. A total of
14,810 pounds of plaster wadding, or hemp grass, was requited and one and
one-half tons of soap paste was used for moulds.
6 tons of nails were used. 57,692 pounds of paint were mixed.
A total of 820 brushes were used, of which 370 were completely worn out on
11,600 square feet of glass was supplied for windows, including
approximately 3,600 square feet of heavy plate for store windows.
Filming in Finland
In order to obtain scenes of deep snows and wintry vistas in simulation of
the Siberia where part of the Russian novel is laid, Lean and his crew
embarked for Finland, the first time a major motion picture company has ever
invaded that Scandinavian country for location shooting.
Headquarters were established at Joensuu, a town of 20,000, located about
400 miles north of Helsinki — not far from the actual Arctic Circle, and
less than 75 miles from the actual Russian border on the through highway to
Leningrad. Temperatures in this snowy region ranged from an impressive 40 to
10 degrees below zero.
Many scenes were photographed on Lake Pyhaselka, which was covered by
waist-high snow on top of its four-foot-thick ice. It was on this huge
expanse of snow and ice that the Russians laid railroad tracks in 1940
during the first winter of their war with Finland. Trains were moved over
them until they were removed by the Russians just before the summer thaw.
For several weeks Lean used bulldozers, trucks and tons of equipment made
mobile on huge sledges in filming scenes showing Yuri Zhivago on his
dramatic journey across the Russian steppes after escaping from
Revolutionists. Each morning a representative of Finland's State Engineering
Department tested the ice to ensure that it would be safe enough for such an
operation. The only mishap occurred when one section of the ice gave way and
a trailer slid beneath the surface. The Finnish driver leaped to safety and
the horse was rescued before the vehicle disappeared into the icy water.
The state-owned Finnish Railways provided the company with 32 freight cars
and two wood-burning engines of historic value. These were revamped to
simulate Russian trains of half a century ago and were moved more than 1200
miles over tracks extending as far as Savonlinna on the remote northern
wasteland and within 10 miles of the Russian border.
One of the biggest problems encountered by the film company was the task of
finding, and hiring extras to appear in some of the mob scenes. There is no
un-employment in Finland, but Lean was finally able to cull extras for the
necessary character parts from the band of Lapland gypsies who wander across
the northern sections of that country. Most of them had never even seen a
motion picture before, but were willing to 'act' for the director and proved
to be perfect types to portray the Siberian refugees during the war
sequences in the film.
In addition to filming scenes on Lake Pyhaselka and on the railroad lines,
other sequences were staged in the forest near Koli and on more than a dozen
other location sites in the Joensuu area.
About Boris Pasternak
The announcement on October 23, 1958, that Boris Pasternak had been awarded
the Nobel Prize for Literature touched off a controversy that focused the
eyes of the literary and political worlds on the quiet, scholarly man, who
had become internationally famous as a poet and translator of German and
English classics, especially the plays of Shakespeare. The honor paid the
author became the "Pasternak Affair". The events surrounding it developed
into a great and moving drama. Inside the Soviet Union he became the center
of a vast political controversy. The communist press turned against him. The
Soviet Writer's Association expelled him. The humiliation and threats he
endured were beyond belief, although his selection for the Award was
Pasternak's acceptance of the prize would have required his attendance at
ceremonies in Stockholm. He was advised that if he left Russia for this
purpose he would not be permitted to return. After much soul searching, he
declined the Prize, explaining in a famous letter to Premier Khruschev: "I
am bound to Russia by my birth, my life and my work. For me to leave my
country would be to die.'' And it was in his beloved land that he died in
his sleep on May 30, 1960, at his home in a writers' colony 20 miles from
Although the Nobel Prize was awarded Pasternak for his literary genius,
there is little doubt that it was "Doctor Zhivago", his first and only
full-length novel, that earned him this honor.
Pasternak was born in Moscow in 1890, the son of Leonid Pasternak, a noted
teacher and painter, and Rosa Kaufman, a brilliant concert pianist. At the
age of ten, he moved to Paris with his parents, who remained there for the
rest of their lives.
Young Boris, however, returned to Russia and in 1909 began to study law at
Moscow University. He soon switched to philosophy. Following a summer at
Marburg University in Germany, he spent time travelling through Italy. The
art, music and literature in these two countries strongly influenced him.
Because of a slight limp, he was not called upon for military participation
in either World War I or the Russian Revolution, but there is little doubt
that these shattering events shaped his thinking for his entire life. During
the War he worked in a factory in the Urals and after the revolution was
employed in the Library of the Commissariat for Education. He began writing
poems during this period and the dozens that he published between 1917 and
1932 earned him a highly respected reputation through much of the world. In
1932 an autobiographical poem, "Spectorsky," resulted in accusations within
Russia of antisociability. From 1933 on he lived a semi-retired life,
devoting his time mainly to translations of foreign poets and playwrights.
In 1954 "Doctor Zhivago" was announced for publication in Russia and the
manuscript was sent to a publisher in Italy, one in France and one in
England. Soviet authorities, however, decided the book was not favorable to
the Communist cause. They ordered the manuscripts returned. Giangiacomo
Feltrinelli, the Italian publisher, refused to comply. And so it was, that
this great Russian classic first appeared. It has not yet been published
inside Russia. Boris Pasternak was not a writer of political ideologies or a
sponsor of causes. Rather he was a man who believed the value of human life
cannot be measured in theories and dogmas. His courage in expressing this in
"Doctor Zhivago" has been rewarded with a success few modern authors have
About the Cast
The actors and actresses selected for top roles in this picture make up what
one commentator has called "The most talented and unusual cast in many
years." Another, referring to the young players in it, headlined his
article: "Doctor Zhivago"—The Film That is Making Stars.
GERALDINE CHAPLIN...The 21 -year-old daughter of
Charles Chaplin won the role of Tonya following a screen test by Director
Lean, which she passed with flying colors. Born in Los Angeles, she moved to
Switzerland with her parents at the age of eight, was educated in a private
school near Vevey, studied ballet in London and danced briefly in a French
ballet in Paris. Miss Chaplin made her motion picture debut opposite
Jean-Paul Belmondo in the French film, "A Lovely Summer Morning."
JULIE CHRISTIE...Born in Assam, India, where her father was a British tea
planter, Miss Christie attended school in England, but at sixteen moved to
Paris to study art. Later she became a dramatic student in London, gained
experience in repertory, and appeared on television before making an
auspicious screen debut in "Billy Liar." She toured Europe, Russia and the
eastern United States with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and has appeared
most recently on the screen in "Young Cassidy" and "Darling." She is seen as
Lara in "Doctor Zhivago."
TOM COURTENAY...won the top acting award at the Venice Film Festival for his
performance in "King and Country" and has scored in "The Loneliness of the
Long Distance Runner," "Operation Crossbow" and "King Rat." He plays the
role of Pasha in "Doctor Zhivago." Born in Hull, England, Courtenay studied
at the University of London and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Joining
the Old Vic Company, he made his acting debut in Chekhov's "The Seagull." He
replaced Albert Finney in the London stage presentation of "Billy Liar" and
starred in the film version.
ALEC GUINNESS...Cast as Yevgraf in "Doctor Zhivago," Alec Guinness makes his
fifth appearance in a David Lean film, after making his screen debut in
"Great Expectations." The other Lean films have been "Oliver Twist," "The
Bridge on the River Kwai," for which he won an Academy Award, and "Lawrence
of Arabia." Born in London, Guinness worked briefly in an advertising agency
before making his debut on the London stage in "Queer Cargo." He has since
divided his time between stage and screen and has appeared in some 30 films.
Last year, his performance on Broadway in "Dylan" won him the Tony Award as
SIOBHAN McKENNA...has an imposing list of credits in the theatre, films and
television here and abroad. Born in Belfast, Ireland, she studied at Galway
University. After her debut at Dublin's famed Abbey Theatre, she went on to
enormous success in London and New York, one of her great hits being in
Shaw's "Saint Joan." She is the only Irish actress to be honored with a full
season at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon. Miss
McKenna made her film debut in 1947 in "Hungry Hill." In "Doctor Zhivago"
she plays Anna Gromeko.
RALPH RICHARDSON...scored one of his greatest screen successes in David
Lean's "The Sound Barrier" and one of his biggest stage hits in Robert
Bolt's "Flowering Cherry." Born in Cheltenham, England, he made his acting
debut at the age of nineteen in "The Merchant of Venice." Since then he has
played leading roles in literally scores of plays in England and the United
States. He is seen as Alexander Gromeko in "Doctor Zhivago."
OMAR SHARIF . . Since his performance in "Lawrence of Arabia," for which he
won an Academy Award nomination, Sharif has starred in "The Fall of the
Roman Empire," "Behold a Pale Horse," "The Yellow Rolls-Royce" and "Ghengis
Khan." He was Lean's first and only choice for the title role in "Doctor
Zhivago." Born in Alexandria, Egypt, and educated at Victoria College,
Cairo's English University, Sharif became one of Egypt's top motion picture
stars, appearing in more than 20 films prior to his selection for a major
role in "Lawrence of Arabia," which made him internationally famous.
ROD STEIGER...won an Academy Award nomination for his performance in "On the
Waterfront," the 1953 Sylvania Award as Best Actor of the Year, and the
Berlin Film Festival Award for "The Pawnbroker." His Italian-produced film,
"Hands in the City," won the Venice Film Festival's Grand Prize in 1963 and
his TV play, "The Lonely Wizard," won an Emmy Award in 1958. The only
American in the cast of "Doctor Zhivago," he is seen as Komarovsky. Born in
Westhampton, Long Island, he studied at the Actor's Studio. He made his
Broadway debut in 1948 in "Night Music" and his film debut in 1951 in
RITA TUSHINGHAM...whose waif like charm brought her international fame in
her first film, "A Taste of Honey," was a student with the Liverpool Players
when she was given the lead in that film by director Tony Richardson. Born
in Liverpool, she has starred in several plays on the London stage and in
six motion pictures, most recently in "The Girl with the Green Eyes" and
"The Knack." In "Doctor Zhivago," she plays The Girl, the character who
opens and closes the story.
About the Director
David Lean and Sir Sydney Samuelson. Image from Sir Sydney's collection
When asked why he chose "Doctor Zhivago," from the dozens of stories
submitted to him each year, for a film-making project that would absorb his
energies for at least three years, David Lean said:
"When I read the book, it was the characters that first captured my
imagination. They are fascinating people, all of them, and their personal
stories are highly dramatic ones. The Russian Revolution itself was a
towering historical event, one which has not yet been truly depicted in a
motion picture. However, this is not the story of the Revolution, but rather
the story of what happens to a small group of people when the Revolution
crashes down on them.
The drama, the horror and the turbulence of the Revolution simply provides
the canvas against which is told a moving and highly personal love story."
"Doctor Zhivago" is only David Lean's third film within a period of ten
years — a fact which emphasizes the meticulous care he devotes to his
The result of such dedicated film-making speaks for itself in "The Bridge on
the River Kwai" and "Lawrence of Arabia," Lean's two previous films. Between
them they have won 14 Oscars. Lean was named Best Director for each, and
each picture was honored as Best Picture of the Year.
Born in Croydon, England, and educated in a Quaker school, Lean began his
film career in 1928 as a camera assistant at the Gainsborough Studios in
England. Part of the time he worked as third assistant director, with duties
varying from running messages to carrying afternoon tea.
He soon decided, however, that he'd like to be a film editor. By studying
the mechanics of cutting and splicing, he developed an eye for the most
effective shots and a gift for combining them into effective continuity.
Progressing rapidly, he soon had such films as "Pygmalion," "Escape Me
Never" and "The Invaders" to his credit and became known as the finest
editor in the business.
Noel Coward gave him his first chance as a director with "In Which We
Serve," one of Britain's outstanding war films. During the next several
years, Lean directed such notable productions as "This Happy Breed," "Blithe
Spirit," "Brief Encounter," "Great Expectations," "Oliver Twist," "The Sound
Barrier," "Hobson's Choice" and "Summertime."
Made in Italy, the latter was his first directorial effort outside of
England. It was "The Bridge on the River Kwai," however, that marked the
beginning of Lean's identification with location films.
About the Writer
Robert Bolt is one of Britain's most literate, successful and highly
regarded playwrights. His plays, "Flowering Cherry", "The Tiger and the
Horse," and "A Man For All Seasons," have earned him high praise on both
sides of the Atlantic, a background which soon led to the impressive task of
writing the screenplay for "Lawrence of Arabia" and establishing a firm
liaison with director David Lean. Early in 1963, work brought them together
again for the herculean task of writing the screenplay for "Doctor Zhivago"
from the Boris Pasternak novel.
Born in Manchester, England, he attended the local grammar school, then went
to work for a year in an insurance office. Following three years in the
Army, he returned to Manchester to take an Honors in history and became a
Bolt's first writing was for radio, but his ambition was to turn out an
acceptable stage play. In 1957, success finally came and has grown steadily
ever since. His enthusiasm and interest in the screen has been so stimulated
that he now plans to divide his efforts between the two mediums.
About the Producer
The name of Carlo Ponti has become synonymous with fine motion picture
entertainment. After producing many of the most successful Italian films of
the past two decades, he has produced, in association with M-G-M, three of
the most ambitious motion pictures in the world. They are: "Operation
Crossbow," "Lady L" and, of course, "Doctor Zhivago." Born in Milan, Ponti
first studied law at the University of Milan. He became interested in films
while still a student, and, after graduation and several years of law
practice, began to acquire properties that might be suitable for films and
then surrounded himself with the finest writing, acting and technical talent
available in Italy. His first film, "Little Old Worlds," made in Milan, was
an immediate success.
Ponti is equally at home in Rome, New York, Paris, London or Madrid. It is
not unusual for him to breakfast in Paris, lunch in New York and breakfast
in Paris the following morning, after having completed arrangements for a
Other recent successful pictures, have been "Marriage, Italian Style,'' "Two
Women" and “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”.
A few of the million words that have been written
about "Doctor Zhivago"
"Lean is, above all, a craftsman, an encyclopedia of technique, and a subtle
manipulator of audience emotions." — NEW YORK TIMES
"Geraldine Chaplin is standing on the threshold of certain screen stardom."
— ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS
"Pasha, the taciturn, sarcastic young revolutionary who almost steals the
book from Zhivago, is a part to fire Tom Courtenay who has said of his
acting, 'I am heart and stomach and soul'." — VOGUE
"Julie Christie is sensational in Pasternak's 'Doctor Zhivago'."
— CINCINNATI ENQUIRER
"Boris Pasternak's novel is a love story set against one of the biggest
social upheavals in history and Mr. Lean is keeping it that way in the film.
Spectacle in this picture is only a frame for intimacy."
— LONDON EVENING STANDARD
"The magic name of Chaplin has returned to motion pictures. Geraldine
Chaplin's role as Tonya will zoom her to stardom."
— ST. LOUIS DISPATCH
"Miss Christie stepped from a year in repertory into the headlines, hurtling
skywards, and now her name dominates the cinema screens."
— NORWICH, ENGLAND EASTERN EVENING NEWS
"Geraldine Chaplin stands shyly on the brink of stardom."
— YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO VINDICATOR
"The casting of Geraldine Chaplin was no publicity-seeking device. 'Zhivago'
makers are two of the best: Britain's David Lean and Italy's Carlo Ponti."
— DETROIT NEWS
"Julie Christie, gay, piquant, attractive, is one of the most famous young
stars of the moment." — CINE EN SIETE DIAS — MADRID
"When she made her first film, 'On a Lovely Summer Morning,' another Chaplin
career dawned. Now Geraldine is living up to those great expectations in her
starring role as Tonya." — NEW YORK SUNDAY NEWS
"Now that movie contracts are piling up, Geraldine Chaplin has entered the
hard life of an artist to get on her own what her father could have given
her without any effort." — LUCHA-TERUEL, SPAIN
"Geraldine Chaplin and Julie Christie are supported by an extraordinary
group of stars. It's a collection to make the cinema connoisseur's mouth
water with anticipation." — BOSTON GLOBE
"With her heritage Geraldine Chaplin should be standing confidently on the
threshold of certain screen stardom." — TORONTO TELEGRAM
"Her father's talent shines through in Geraldine's acting."
— WICHITA SUNDAY EAGLE and BEACON
"Geraldine Chaplin has talent worthy of her name."
— CHICAGO SUNDAY TIMES
"At twenty years old Geraldine Chaplin has arrived where others never will
after a life-time of struggle."
— PATERSON, NEW JERSEY RECORD
"Julie Christie, a freewheeling, grey-eyed British blonde, is probably the
best young actress in films today." — PARADE
"It seems that every top film maker is looking for a vehicle which might
entice Geraldine Chaplin into his fold as soon as she completes her role in
'Doctor Zhivago'." — HOLLYWOOD CITIZEN-NEWS
"... Julie Christie is the rare material of which the memorable stars are
made." — WEEKEND MAGAZINE
" 'Doctor Zhivago' is probably the most important picture of the year."
— GLASGOW EVENING CITIZEN
"Julie Christie has a rare combination of inner beauty plus a highly
disciplined talent." — LOS ANGELES TIMES
"Stardom seems about to come positively and swiftly to Geraldine Chaplin
with her major role-Tonya-in this very major production." — GLAMOUR
"Geraldine Chaplin performed so well, with such depth, grace, and
instantaneous understanding of the lines that Lean declared she was a
natural and gave her the part. Of Geraldine he exclaims, 'I have never seen
stardom come off the screen so positively as in her test'."
— WASHINGTON POST
"All Hollywood says that 'Doctor Zhivago' will be in the same tradition of
'Bridge On The River Kwai' and 'Lawrence of Arabia': sweeping, magnificent,
fully equal to the complexity and subtlety of the plot."
— CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
"David Lean is striving to capture the confusion of a profound intelligence
confronted by events of immeasurable impact, as though through the eyes of
men past who have unknowingly witnessed the most decisive moments of
mankind." — CINE-MONDE
". . . one of the year's most exciting projects ... a rich assortment of
— MEMPHIS PRESS SCIMITAR
"Geraldine Chaplin is starting at the top ..." — LOOK MAGAZINE
"The most prominent actor in the cast is the British Alec Guinness. When
Lean offered him his role, he accepted right away, without knowing who he
was supposed to play. There was a reason for his quick decision: in Lean's,
"Bridge on the River Kwai," he played the role that brought him the first
'Oscar' of his career." —DER SPEIGEL—GERMANY
"... a vast panorama that probes the fundamental values of man's existence."
— SPOKANE SPOKESMAN REVIEW
"It will be M-G-M's most important picture in years."
— DALLAS TIMES-HERALD
"It is powerful stuff. Could have all the appeal of a later-day 'Gone With
the Wind'." —THE OBSERVER
"Director David Lean, after working with Miss Chaplin a week, said: 'She has
that indefinable spark that spells movie stardom. Personality seems to leap
from the screen'." — Hedda Hopper
'Doctor Zhivago' will be one of the greatest films in the history of motion
pictures." — Dorothy Kilgallen
"London critics predict that Julie Christie is destined to be England's top
cinema export." — NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE
"Having just completed her starring role in 'Doctor Zhivago,' it's readily
apparent that Geraldine Chaplin has inherited her father's talent."
— THE CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA OBSERVER
"Everything done by David Lean has been of high quality. He is one of the
few about whom it can be said that he has never made a bad film."
— EKSTRA BLADET— DENMARK
"Geraldine Chaplin emerges from the shadows of genius in enacting her role
as Tonya. She's fantastic, say those in the 'know'." — PAGEANT
"Already this drama of the Russian Revolution is being likened to 'Gone With
the Wind' as a Spectacle." — Louella Parsons
"Bolt's screenplay is highly literate and, in...the tradition of the Russian
novel, its characters and plots unravel themselves at a solid majestic pace.
It is powerful stuff." — SHOW
"His actors are stars upon whom he exercises that magic Lean touch which
makes them better than they are, and turns extras into inspired performers."
— SHREVEPORT, LA. JOURNAL
"Geraldine Chaplin is obviously this year's new big Star." — Sheila Graham
"David Lean's film of Boris Pasternak's much-discussed novel, 'Doctor
Zhivago,' is making a tremendous impact on the Spanish capital. The film has
received nothing but support from the Spanish government."
— SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
" 'There is no question in my mind,' Sharif said. 'Geraldine was born for
stardom'." — RICHMOND TIMES DISPATCH
The Cast / Credits
Geraldine Chaplin (Tonya), Julie Christie
(Lara), Tom Courtenay (Pasha), Alec Guinness (Yevgraf), Siobhan Mckenna
(Anna), Ralph Richardson (Alexander), Omar Sharif (Yuri Zhivago), Rod
Steiger (Komarovsky), Rita Tushingham (the girl)
David Lean’s film "Doctor Zhivago"
Screenplay by ROBERT BOLT.
From the Novel by BORIS PASTERNAK.
Music by MAURICE JARRE.
Director of Photography FREDDIE YOUNG.
Production Designer JOHN BOX.
Costumes by PHYLLIS DALTON.
Directed by DAVID LEAN. Produced by CARLO PONTI.
Presented by METRO - GOLDWYN - MAYER.
In PANAVISION® and METROCOLOR
Printed in U.S.A.
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