Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper Mersey Beat
Zhivago’ was the most popular film of 1965 and one of the greatest successes
in cinema history. Sadly, the success of ‘Doctor Zhivago’ came too late
for Boris Pasternak, author of the novel on which the film was based, or
for the tragic woman who inspired him. Much of the novel was based on real
events and is the story of a young doctor, newly married, who meets and
falls in love with a beautiful, penniless woman, against the background
of the Russian revolution.
Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was born in 1890 and became an acclaimed poet and novelist. He embarked on his major novel in 1945, a year before he met Olga Ivinskaia, daughter of a schoolteacher, who had spent her childhood in Kursk. Pasternak fell deeply in love with Olga, who became his inspiration for Lara, heroine of ‘Doctor Zhivago.’
years after meeting Pasternak, Olga was interned in the KGB prison Lubianka
and interrogated about her lover’s alleged anti-Soviet activities. When
after a year she refused to implicate him, Olga was sent to a concentration
‘Doctor Zhivago’, Pasternak describes Lara’s disappearance: “She vanished
without a trace and probably died…in one of the innumerable mixed or women’s
concentration camps in the North.”
The Soviet authorities considered ‘Doctor Zhivago’ to be anti-Communist and refused its publication in Russia. It first appeared in an Italian edition in 1957 and on 23rd October 1958 it was officially awarded the Nobel prize for literature. Pasternak was warned that if he flew to Sweden to accept the prize he would never be allowed to return to Russia. As he loved his country, the author remained in Moscow and never received his prize. Olga was eventually released in 1953 following Stalin’s death. In May 1960, two months after Pasternak’s own death, she was accused of currency offences and sentenced to eight years in a Siberian camp. She was released in 1964.
The film adaptation of Pasternak’s book, directed by David Lean, was made purely with profit in mind and it went on to become the biggest film of 1965, despite adverse criticism. One reviewer wrote: “David Lean’s ‘Doctor Zhivago’ does for snow what ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ did for sand.”
felt the film was a clumsy adaptation of the complex Nobel prize-winning
novel. Yet, in addition to an enviable clutch of Oscars, it made more than
$100 million within a few years and became one of the all-time box office
hits in cinema history. At the 1965 Academy Awards both ‘Doctor Zhivago’
and ‘The Sound of Music’ received ten nominations – and they finished neck-and-neck
with five awards each. The film was heavily criticised, with reviewers claiming
it was too long. Lean was so incensed that he vowed he would never make
another film. However, he went on to make ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ in 1970 and
‘A Passage to India’ in 1984.
The title role was played by Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, who many critics believe was miscast. He was born Michael Shalhoub in Alexandria on 10th April 1932 and was the number one male cinema attraction in Egypt between 1956 and 1961.
Sharif, who had progressed to international stardom after appearing in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, for which he garnered an Oscar nomination, heard that Lean was to film ‘Doctor Zhivago’ and requested that he be given the part of Pasha/Strelnikov. He was surprised when Lean gave him the role of Yuri Zhivago instead. It had previously been offered to Peter O’Toole, who turned it down.
|Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.|
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