Sunday, March 15, 2020

Maurice Jarre - The music for Dr. Zhivago

Dr. Zhivago is a fascinating film on a whole number of levels.  It was written in the Soviet Union, and banned as anti-Soviet propaganda.  Everyone who was anyone there refused to read it: I did not read Pasternak but I condemn him.  Boris Pasternak's novel won the Nobel Prize for Literature but he was not allowed to accept the money.  Bill Maulden (of "Willie and Joe" fame) won a Pullitzer Prize for this cartoon about Pasternak's plight:

I won the Nobel Prize for Literature,  What was your crime?
And so to the film.  It is very long - over 3 hours.  Despite this, it sold a quarter billion movie theater tickets, in the 1960s when populations were much less.  Adjusted for inflation in ticket prices, it is #8 of the list of top grossing films of all time.  This despite historians' panning the film for misrepresenting the history of the period.

The recently deceased Max von Sydow turned down the lead role, as did Peter O'Toole and Paul Newman.  Omar Sharif gave the performance of his career as Zhivago.

But things get stranger.  It was released in 1965, the same year as The Sound Of Music.  Unexpectedly, The Sound Of Music won the Best Picture Oscar.  Also unexpectedly, Dr. Zhivago won the best musical score Oscar.  That's maybe not much of a surprise since it was written by Maurice Jarre, who won that Oscar 3 times and was nominated another 6.

The music, obviously, is sublime.  Enjoy.

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