BFI rerelease David Lean’s epic romance Doctor Zhivago
‘An epic romance set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution, director David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago, based on the novel by Boris Pasternak and featuring a standout cast led by the late Omar Sharif alongside Julie Christie, is one of cinema’s greatest and most epic love stories.
On 27 November 2015, in celebration of the film’s 50th anniversary and as part of the BFI’s new blockbuster Love, the BFI will bring it back to big screens across the UK in a beautiful new 4K digital restoration.’
The film went on to win five Academy Awards, one of which went to my father, John Box, for production design.
With my father working away so much of the time, most of my school holidays were spent visiting him on location. One of those summer holidays was spent in Spain, in Madrid, where ‘Doctor Zhivago’ was being filmed. Early one blazingly hot morning, heat already shimmering off the pavements, we set off from the cool, dark apartment my parents were renting to visit the unit filming on the other side of the city.
An hour later, I was standing, up to my ankles in snow, in ‘Kropotkin Street’ in Moscow. And it was still over 100 F! And there wasn’t just one street but several, with trams clanking up and down, even a cathedral and in the far distance the crenellated walls of the Kremlin – the Magician, as my father was known, and his team had been at work again.
‘It became such a little town that people moved into the back of the buildings, and there were several tapas bars, a shoe repairer and a knife sharpener. They all had their signs up and you could have a fundador and a shrimp at the back of a Russian house. The extras and the crew used to drop in and it became a real village.’
Ian Christie, author of ‘The Art of Film : John Box and Production Design’ has written ‘Doctor Zhivago’, published by Palgrave as part of the BFI Classics series, to tie in with the rerelease of the film.
‘In this illuminating study of the film’s production history, Ian Christie explores how it finally came about, largely in Spain, including recent revelations about the CIA’s involvement in the novel’s publication, and places particular emphasis on the contribution of production designer John Box to its spectacular and deeply evocative imagery. Tracing the film’s reception across fifty years, Christie shows how it has had an enduring influence on film, music, fashion and popular culture.’