Doctor Zhivago

Featured In Issue 148, May/June 2010

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Warner Home Video
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Mature themes
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Not Indicated
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David Lean
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Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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From the novel by Boris Pasternak, David Lean's "Doctor Zhivago" is hailed by critics everywhere as brilliant and one of the most popular films ever. A sweeping epic about one charismatic man's struggle that spans several decades to survive in war-convulsed Russia. That man is Yuri Zhivago (Sharif), a talented poet and dedicated surgeon deeply affected by the war and its victims. His suffering alters the lives of many people around him, including his gentle and understanding wife Tonya (Chaplin) and the extraordinary and fiery nurse Lara (Christie), with whom he falls in love. The film won five Academy Awards® for its sweeping cinematography, screenplay, art/set direction, magnificent costumes, and Maurice Jarre's powerful music score. (Suzanne Hodges)

Disc One of this two-disc release includes commentary by Omar Sharif, Rod Steiger, and Sandra Lean (wife of David Lean) and a two-part featurette: "Doctor Zhivago: A Celebration" (Part 1 SD 23:52) (Part 2 SD 16:13). Disc Two's special features include the same introduction by Omar Sharif that was included with the previously reviewed LaserDisc and the DVD, a 21-chapter documentary "Dr. Zhivago: The Making Of A Russian Epic" (SD 01:00:24), and 11 vintage featurettes. The Blu-ray Book Edition also contains 44 pages of insightful essays, cast photos, historical film facts, and a CD with eight selections from the Oscar®-winning soundtrack that featured "Laura's Theme," and the theatrical trailer.

This is the third rendering of this classic that we have reviewed and the very best picture quality. The picture exhibits an even more pleasing quality than the previously reviewed anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 DVD reviewed in Issue 55. The picture is smooth and absolutely cinematic, with pleasing sharpness and nicely rendered detail. Colors are well balanced, with natural fleshtones and deep blacks. Colors are impressively rich and bold as exhibited in the deep scarlet tapestries and against the cold hues of the Russian exteriors. Unfortunately edge enhancement is still prevalent, though, the ghostly halos are less distracting and obtrusive. At times the enhancement is absent and the true resolution reveals itself, which is wonderfully pleasing against the natural hues. Dimensionality is quite pleasing as well, and the cinematography is wonderful. Compared to the LaserDisc (Issues 17 and 25) and DVD, the Blu-ray Disc exhibits much-improved contrast and vividness. This edition establishes a new reference quality standard, especially considering the age of the film. (Gary Reber/Suzanne Hodges)

This new remastered DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is far superior the the previously remastered Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel remastered soundtrack on the DVD and the 30th anniversary LaserDisc reissue. The sound is far more open in the midrange and fuller, with a more prominent low-end presence. This new soundtrack, as with the previous DVD, has been processed to reduce tape hiss, which was prevalent with the LaserDisc version. Inherent distortion is still noticeable, as expected, but significantly less so. The Maurice Jarre music score sounds wonderful and typically projects a palpable multichannel listening experience, sounding nicely expansive across the screen with stereo surround envelopment and at times a compelling low-end foundation. The dialogue is characteristically directional, but the inherent "looseness" now exhibits a much improved dimensional focus with good spatial integration. Like other magnetic multi-track soundtracks of the period, most of the audio originates from the screen channels, with the exception of gentle atmospheric effects and specific heightened moments, especially during rumbling train sequences. Deep bass is expectedly reserved, except for poignant instances for which some low-frequency content can be readily noticed with .1 LFE activity. Overall, this is a well-restored and repurposed soundtrack that is worthy of commendation, especially considering the age of the film. (Gary Reber/Perry Sun)