Doctor Zhivago (1965) - Digibook [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Drama / Romance / War
Warner Brothers || PG13 - 200 minutes - $35.99 || May 4, 2010
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2010-05-20


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: David Lean
Writer(s): Boris Pasternak (novel); Robert Bolt (screenplay)
Cast: Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness


Theatrical Release Date: December 22, 1965


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Documentary
  • 6 Featurettes
  • Press Interviews
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio CD


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (2.20)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Doctor Zhivago is based upon the book of the same name written by Boris Pasternak in 1957. What follows is a film that spans decades as we see through the lives of several individuals and how their paths cross.

In this 3+ hour film, we get to focus on three characters; Yuri (Sharif) a writer/poet, Tonya (Chaplin) his wife and "sister" and Lara (Christie), a nurse whom Yuri slowly falls mad in love with. Since the film is well over 3 hours long, it can be very tough to follow as we see the characters change very fast - not only physically but mentally. At the start of the film we see a young Yuri grieving over the death of his only real family, his mother, and the next he is being taken in and becomes a brother to Tonya. As Yuri grows into an adult, he finds himself becoming a Doctor in World War One where he once again meets, and falls in love with Lara. The film showcases how far - and how long - a man will go to be with his one true love.

One of the greatest things about this film is the wonderful scenery. Whether it be Russia or any other place we visit throughout the movie, the Director really seems to love showcasing it off. The first hour of the film is truly remarkable. Performances remain very strong throughout the film. By far the standout would be that of Geraldine Chaplin (yes, daughter of Charlie Chaplin), who remains the constant focus throughout the movie (more so than Yuri in my opinion).

Warner has once again brought a classic film to Blu-ray through their DigiBook offerings. This is simply an amazing looking piece - just like the films beautiful scenery. The font is embossed, the book itself has a very nice texture that makes it feel like a classic book (not that slick feeling like most of their releases) and packs in some very well written articles and biographies as well as an Audio CD (stuck to the back). If there is one film that really deserved the DigiBook treated - it's Doctor Zhivago.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All Special Features are Presented in SD.

Disc 1 (Blu-ray):

Commentary with Actor Omar Sharif & Sandra Lean

A Celebration (Parts 1 and 2) (40 Minutes) - As one might expect from the title, this featurette gets together many known filmmakers and writers to discuss Zhivago and the impact it's had on cinema.

Disc 2 (DVD - recycled from a previous DVD release of the film):

Making of Doctor Zhivago (61 Minutes) - Narrated by Omar Sharif (Yuri from the film), this documentary (apparently it aired on television 15 years ago) discusses just about everything in the film - performances, script, sets, setting, key scenes, the soundtrack and more. Looks very dated now, but still a very good watch.

Archived Press Interviews (30 Minutes) - Both Omar Sharif and Julie Christie discuss Zhivago (and boy is this an old set of interviews!)

The rest of the featurettes only run a few minutes or so each, and are pretty self explanatory:

- Pasternak (9 Minutes)
- Geraldine Chaplin Screen Test (3 Minutes)
- This Is Shorts (4 Minutes)
- Moscow in Madrid (4 Minutes)
- Introduction to the film (7 Minutes)
- Behind the Camera with David Lean (11 Minutes)

There is also an Award’s List (text, Cast and Crew info (text) & the Theatrical Trailer.

As mention in my movie review, Warner has turned this release into a DigiBook. It includes 34 pages of wonderful text and high-quality pictures, as well as a bonus Audio CD (which I believe is for a limited time).

My only issue with this release is that Warner has opted to recycle the DVD Bonus disc instead of authoring it on a simple BD25 (which would have increased the visual quality of the SD features just a smidge). Sure, it may have saved Warner some money, but the cost of the Blu-ray has already been inflated since it was given the DigiBook treatment.

Regardless, this is a very complete package and I can't think of anything else that could have been added in.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Doctor Zhivago is presented in (VC1) on a 50GB Disc. A film that is 45 years old and looks this good? Sign me up for more classics on Blu-ray! I don't have the previous DVD version to compare it to, but the film looks simply excellent here on Blu-ray. It appears no icky DNR/EE has been applied to this transfer meaning every little bit of proper grain is present and there are no unsightly halo's surrounding characters. The restoration done here will have this film live on for years to come as no one would ever think this film came out in 1965 - it just looks too damn good. It may not be as razor sharp as some of the new releases (More or less a soft picture), but this is what the format was made for.

Warner has included an English 5.1 DTS MA Track for this release. Very much of the film is dialog driven, so don't expect a whole lot of action from the rear speakers. For the most part, I felt dialog to be well placed and accurate - aside from a few moments where dialog volume would fluctuate a tad.



.::OVERALL::.

There is a reason this film won 5 Oscars, but I'm not sure how the current Blu-ray demographic will handle the film. For fans of the classic, this is a must have not only for the terrific film, but the quality of the picture and audio.