Tonight I was supposed to write about RUSH HOUR. I had decided that this morning. I was going to go out with friends, check out DR ZHIVAGO and come home and write up the world premiere of RUSH HOUR.
How anyone could go see DR ZHIVAGO and come home to write about anything else I will never know, because I certainly can’t. So I’m hoping, that by exorcising my thoughts on DR ZHIVAGO, I may find the ability to write about other films, as I do have many reviews I need to write.
Usually, as you know, I write about my day before the review, but here... here I have but one thing to write about.
I saw this film, this day, with Dad and Tom Joad. We were in the minority in the audience. Most everyone was a lady or a couple, very few single guys. We guys are tougher than Zhivago we like to think. We like to call it a girly movie. DR ZHIVAGO is, in reality, a lover’s film. And I mean that in the sense that anyone who loves, will love or wants a love, loves DR ZHIVAGO.
The three of us walked into the Paramount Theater, a place built to show movies like this one, and I found my way to my usual aisle, only to find a lone woman sitting there. I don’t know her name, I sat slightly behind her and to the left. No husband came to her side, no boyfriend. She sat closer to the screen than any other, she sat center. Who is she? I don’t know, but she haunted me throughout the film.
You see, for me, DR. ZHIVAGO is a film about regrets, missed opportunities, tragedy and love. She caught my eye, because as I entered my row our eyes met, just for a bit, but they met all the same. The opening music played upon a blank screen, and I shut my eyes. I’ve seen this film perhaps 30 times, it’s a movie that was meant to be seen often.
The music carried images of beautiful snow drenched landscapes, of moisture upon Julie Christie’s bottom lip, and a wine droplet hanging from her chin. The music carried the snow cracked face of Omar Shariff, the timbre of Alec Guinness’ voice and of course the frozen hand with the barbed wire above. Memories of Zhivago, that’s what this music was. I opened my eyes, and there was the girl. She sat there... eyes closed. Was she thinking the same things I was, seeing the same images? Or was she remembering past loves and the hopes of everlasting loves? That too was there in my lobes.
As the film begins, I edge to the front of my seat. I rest my arms on the back of the chair in front of me, and my chin upon the crossed hands. I love this film. Not in a trivial, one night sort of way. There are several types of movies, but I’m going to talk of two. The one night stands and the everlasting loves. The first happens most often. It’s the film that comes along and hits you atop the heads and shoulders. It dangles there and your eyes open wide to take it in. You find yourself enraptured by it, you go home that night filled with wonderful things to say about it, you call your friends, you tell them of the film describing each and every little nuance of it to them. You have an excited tone in your voice. But as the days drip by, you find yourself not mentioning it. You stop thinking about it, you can’t remember the lines, you can’t hum the tune. If someone mentions it, you talk well of it, but not with that tone you did that first night.
Everlasting film loves... well... they are quite a bit different. With them you love longer, deeper and forever. For me, Dr Zhivago is one of these. It’s a movie I can’t imagine not being fed into a projector every second of every day of my life. It’s a movie that makes life better. You see, I don’t want to live the life of Dr Zhivago... no... And I don’t think very many want to live Lara’s life. But what this movie does make us lovers do is stay alert.
Sitting one row behind me and on the end was a lady I’ve known for years. We’ve been friends for years. Our lives intertwine for moments, usually at film screenings. Often we see each other at film lover’s films. The last time was THE TINGLER, the time before that was TIME BANDITS, and now here with ZHIVAGO.
There’s a part of me that during this film wandered along the parallel thoughts, the ones that run while the majority of your brain watches the film. These parallel thoughts were wondering if perhaps this person was that Lara. Then I wondered if Lara lived in Oklahoma, or perhaps the row in front of me, or perhaps she was the girl at the RUSH HOUR party that ‘Loved my movies’.
You see, that’s the real plotting of the film. It’s reason for being. It’s there to make you think about the direction your life is headed. Sure we aren’t in a revolution, and we haven’t been recruited by the Bolsheviks to mend wounds. However, we are humans... we do love... and we think about love.
What is it? Do we have it? I would hope that if I were married and I saw this film, I would look at my wife and say to myself, this is my Lara. And if I looked over and I didn’t would I try to fool myself into thinking I have, and what then. What then if I do find Lara, and I’m married and I have a kid? Do I leave them behind to pursue that perfect love or do I go about my life... typing...writing...digging a ditch..whatever my life may be, but knowing that my life, whatever it is, is my life without Lara.
That’s the key. If you hear a tune when you think of them. If you think of her/him when you see the sun peak out from behind a cloud, when you see an old couple snuggle. When birds fly, and children giggle. When you look at a blank page do you see their name. This... This is what this movie means. It’s about Love, it’s about those moments where you think of love, about living without it, and pursuing it.
This is a movie for every moment of your life. It’s there tucked away for me. I have it with me. I’m one of them suckers that believes in destiny, that believes I wouldn’t have sat one seat too early. That I won’t be trapped on a trolley. I want a true love. I haven’t had it yet. I’ve fooled myself a couple of times, I’ve thought it was there, but so far... no.
Will I go about life without true love, I hope not, I don’t think so, but do any of us truly think that we won’t find it? Perhaps I missed it tonight. Perhaps that lady sitting there by herself, one row up. Perhaps she was the one and my cowardice.. my procrastination.. my lack of initiative has cursed me forever.
Jesus what an evil movie DR ZHIVAGO is! It gets you introspective as all hell. It makes you ponder the issues closest to your heart, and it makes you doubt the direction of your life. These are not trivial things. They are of the most dire consequences. It’s about you. Where you are.
All three of us left the theater. We watched the beautiful women walking by, and we thought. My father remembered his love of long ago, before my mother. Joad... he didn’t speak of it. And me. Well, you see where I’m at.
I love this film because it forces me to look at myself. It is fuel for the soul. It makes you want to love, no matter how hard it may be, no matter what you must climb and endure, love is there...somewhere, and you must find it. Why? Because it’s why we breathe, why we exist from one instant to the next.
The movie? Well, it’s brilliant. It’s the film that casts a shadow over TITANIC. You all know how much I love that film, but really... DR ZHIVAGO exists on a higher ethereal plane. Why?
Watch for the moments that carry no meaning, but mean everything to you.
The moment where Omar Shariff is completely enveloped in shadows, and just a glisten of light is visible...just the vaguest of shadows define his being. And Lara... she’s in Technicolor. Omar defines the look of love here. This shot kills me. Buckets of tears, a trembling bottom lip, and a glance at the girl in front of me, who has a hand stilling her heart, clutching her chest. Yes, it is this moment that rules the film.
The scene where the wolves howl, where he sees them and waves them away to return to the lone flame of the candle, the blank page of paper and his thoughts for Lara. This... this is what love is.
To close this out, this is what I’m hoping PRINCE OF EGYPT is. I know I’m probably setting myself up for a letdown, but dammit, this is what I’m hoping. I hope this is what I get... a movie that I carry all the days of my life, and I won’t know that for sure till I die. That’s the real list of films. The ones you take with you in your thoughts.
I love movies. They can contain such magic. Recently I was talking to a studio guy, a person that makes decisions that affect what gets made. This person hadn’t seen DR ZHIVAGO, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA or SPARTACUS. When I chastised him for this, he said, “We don’t make movies for the sixties.”
“We don’t make movies for the sixties”
The funny bit is, neither did David Lean or Stanley Kubrick. This person, though, was making movies for the nineties. And that... that is the problem. Lean and Kubrick, they made movies for all time. That’s why we still watch them.
If you haven’t seen DR ZHIVAGO, do. Every video store in the civilized world has a copy. There’s a reason. Go find out.
As for me, I’m here in my room alone with my thoughts. Scanning my life, thinking of every lady I’ve ever thought about. What a wonderful thing to have on your mind. I hope... someday.. to think of only one. That would be the greatest thought of all.