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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Doctor Zhivago 45th Anniversary [Blu-ray]


(David Lean, 1965)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: MGM

Video: Warner Home Video



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 3:20:01.559

Disc Size: 43,991,558,380 bytes

Feature Size: 41,071,116,288 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.71 Mbps

Chapters: 60

Case: 50-page Digi-book Blu-ray case

Release date: May 4th, 2010



Aspect ratio: 2.4:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3924 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3924 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio German 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB

Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround



English, French, German, Italian, Castellano, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, none



• Audio commentary with Omar Sharif, Rod Steiger, and Lady Sandra Lean (wife of the late director)

'Dr. Zhivago' - A Celebration - part 1 (23:52) + part 2 (16:12) (both in SD)


Disc 2 (DVD)

• Doctor Zhivago: The Making of a Russian Epic
Zhivago: Behind the Camera with David Lean
David Lean’s Film Of Doctor Zhivago
Moscow In Madrid
New York Press Interviews Julie Christie
New York Press Interviews Omar Sharif
Geraldine Chaplin’s Screen Test
This Is Julie Christie
This Is Geraldine Chaplin
This Is Omar Sharif
Chaplin In New York
Original General Re-release Trailer

8-song CD Soundtrack sampler





Description: David Lean's Doctor Zhivago is an exploration of the Russian Revolution as seen from the point of view of the intellectual, introspective title character (Omar Sharif). Lara inspires lechery in Komarovsky (her mother's lover who is a master at surviving whoever runs Russia) and can't compete with passion for the revolution of the man she marries, Pasha. Her true love is Zhivago who also loves his wife. Lara is the one who inspires poetry. The story is narrated by Zhivago's half brother Yevgraf, who has made his career in the Soviet Army. At the beginning of the film he is about to meet a young woman he believes may be the long lost daughter of Lara and Zhivago.

This epic, sweeping romance, told in flashback, captures the lushness of Moscow before the war and the violent social upheaval that followed. The film is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Boris Pasternak.



The Film:

This sad love affair of two people who have come to their grim Gethsemane in a dismal town in the Urals after going through various personal trials in Moscow and elsewhere is the matter upon which Mr. Bolt has chosen to settle all the tensions of spiritual conflict and personal tragedy that are packed in the Pasternak novel. And this is the weakness of the film. Mr. Bolt has reduced the vast upheaval of the Russian Revolution to the banalities of a doomed romance.


No matter how heartbreaking he has made the backgrounds of the couple appear—with the doctor torn from a promising practice and from a lovely, loving wife by the brutual demands of the revolution and with Lara left on her own after a girlhood affair with an older lover and a marriage with a revolutionist. No matter how richly graphic these affairs have been made by Mr. Lean—and, believe me, he has made them richly graphic; the decor and color photography are as brilliant, tasteful, and exquisite as any ever put on the screen.

Excerpt from Bosley Crowther at the NY Times located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Doctor Zhivago is one of those visually splendorous films that will greatly benefit from the move to Blu-ray. On the Warner, dual-layered, VC-1 encoded transfer a few scenes are softer than I would anticipate but many are just... breathtaking - credit to the film and the 1080P rendering with a modest bitrate for the 3+ hour long film. Doctor Zhivago won the Oscar for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Cinematography (Freddie Young + Nicolas Roeg for some scenes) and Best Costume Design - this is all incorporated in a marvelous presentation from the Blu-ray. The occasional softness looks inherent - NOT DNR based. I wouldn't say that detail is ever staggering excepting, perhaps, Julie Christie's hypnotic visage. Skin tones seem un-manipulated - contrast exhibits dense black levels - and colors - especially the infrequent reds - are impressive. There isn't an abundance of depth and colors are generally flatter than a more modern transfer. Grain seems a shade inconsistent appearing blotchy in some scenes but 'finely appointed' throughout most others. There is some minor noise but nothing to make issue. I suspect that most systems displaying this will produce a memorable and oft-revisited screening. The more discerning the viewer the more he is likely to point out the minor inconsistencies. I don't project but on my 60" display I, frequently couldn't budge my eyes from the screen. This Blu-ray exports the most elegant home theater appearance of this iconic and majestic film - by a wide margin. Visually, this 45-year-old romantic masterpiece, in HD, is an easy thumbs-up.




















Audio :

I'm very happy that Warner have used the lossless DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a notable 3924 kbps. We aren't talking about an aggressive mix but rather a lilting, gently sweeping one with the unforgettable Maurice Jarre score giving further buoyancy to many scenes. Separations exist but aren't overly dynamic with some subtleties reaching the rear channels. It's a very good rendering - sounding, I expect, as good as the film can. The film's music is so wonderful I'm thankful that a CD Sampler is included but the lossless mix is, obviously superior. Warner have included multiple DUB and subtitle options and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Note: the Overture, Intermission, Entr'acte score is available - as it was theatrically.



Extras :

The supplements seem to have everything from the last 2-disc DVD Edition excepting the ability to access the Isolated Score. There are additions - on the Blu-ray disc is a new two-part, 40-minute, documentary entitled 'Dr. Zhivago' - A Celebration. It has input from an extensive line-up of filmmakers, historians and authors extolling Lean and highly lauded film with a backdrop of many scenes. This is unfortunately in SD and comparisons of said scenes to the 1080P are dramatic. The previous commentary with Omar Sharif, the occasionally frank and amusing Rod Steiger, and Lady Sandra Lean (wife of the late director) is still available. The entire second disc of the two-disc DVD edition (with 2001 VOB file dates) is included with no omissions. It constitutes 11 shorts featurettes on production, screen tests, bios, the re-release trailer etc. Warner have included an 8-song CD sampler (good for the car!) and lastly the discs are housed in a large 50-page Digi-book with beautiful color photos, essays and bios. It's quite thick and befitting the grandeur of the film. So, in short - there is new material and the CD and the booklet! 



It's been quite a long while since I had seen Doctor Zhivago. Wow - it has 'Lean' all over it and is a mesmerizing politically charged romance epic. You really wish it would never end. It is one of the most attractive pieces of cinema that I've ever seen. It walks a fine line between enveloping emotion and stark beauty. Warner's Blu-ray covers all the bases - the A/V transfer does the film justice supporting the cinematography and unearthed moods of the score with the persistent Lara's Theme imbedding itself in your brain. There are new extras and it's all housed a substantial package. We recommend! 

Gary Tooze

April 19th, 2010



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze








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