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Doctor Zhivago

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Doctor Zhivago
updated 12.08.2003

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
It has been many years since I've been caught up in excitement over a movie. My question is why wasn't this movie shown in wide-release? The academy would have given it Oscar nominations! Thank you Masterpiece Theatre for creating this epic movie...

Gilda Almeidag
Ashton, MD

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Thank you Masterpiece Theatre for your wonderful presentation of Doctor Zhivago! I had not seen the 1965 version, but my husband had; he convinced me to rent it to compare the two. I admit that I may be influenced by having seen your film first (and thinking Neill and Matheson are quite attractive!), but your version is the best, hands down! Not only were the characterizations much deeper, but the additional storylines made it much more interesting, realistic, and believable. I preferred the music, scenery, romance, and actors in your version as well. Not to knock what was done in the 60s -- I know there were limitations as to what could be put onscreen then as well as political restrictions. Your Doctor Zhivago was far more enjoyable overall. Bravo, Masterpiece Theatre! An award-winner!

Catherine Boyd
Royal Oak, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Very disappointed with the sensationalism -- violence and nudity. So unnecessary. Compared to the original with Sharif and Christie, this production was third rate. Apparently even PBS has stooped to the gratuitous violence and flesh that characterizes the movie industry today.

Karen Blakney
Portland, OR

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Absolutely the best Masterpiece Theatre I have ever seen! The production was mesmerizing. The actors were superb, the scenery beautiful -- I actually loved this production more than the original movie. Thank you for never disappointing those of us who are Masterpiece Theatre lovers.

Barbara Haworth
Fredericksburg, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I'm only 17 and am not easily caught up in love stories but Doctor Zhivago was the most romantic, moving, and beautiful movie I have ever watched and I can't wait to read the book and be caught up in this story again!

Kristen Myers
Freeland, PA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Doctor Zhivago was not the kind of entertainment I appreciate or want. Pornography is not high quality entertainment. It is sickening and vile to have to be subjected to such base entertainment. I don't want to see standards of moral decency go out the door with Masterpiece Theatre. God have mercy on our souls if children happen to see the lovemaking scenes of this movie! Please, wake up people! We do not want R-rated movies on prime-time television!

Laura Cummings
Minneapolis, MN

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have just finished watching Doctor Zhivago through a veil of tears, very nearly consumed by the raw emotions evoked by this sterling adaptation. The ending scenes of Yury's death, Lara's arrest and of Yury's son running from the police made a startling impact on me.

I have only seen parts of the Omar Sharif/Julie Christie version, mostly because it failed to pique my interest. Conversely, this Granada/PBS version was brilliantly cast, acted and executed from start to finish. This production has stirred me to buy and read Pasternak's novel.

Pete Laframboise
Montreal, QC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Because the original Doctor Zhivago by David Lean is my all-time favorite movie, I was doubtful that I would enjoy this new adaptation by Masterpiece Theatre. I was pleasantly surprised by the new storylines and the different scenes in this new version.

Hans Matheson is a credible Yury, if a bit young. He became the romantic, idealistic poet completely. And Sam Neill was even better in his role as Komarovsky than Rod Steiger in the original. He could be charming and chilling all at the same time. Many of the actors in this new version gave marvelous performances that added dimension to the story. However, I was totally disappointed in Keira Knightley's portrayal of Lara. She was too young in the beginning and never matured. Some of her facial expressions were just too weird for the action taking place. She is about as sexy as a limp dishcloth. What was casting thinking when they chose her?

Apart from the female lead, this version of my beloved Doctor Zhivago earned my respect and admiration.

Teresa Rouzer
Burlington, NC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am amazed that the new rendition of Doctor Zhivago seems to have lost the entire thread of the book. The liberties taken with the story line are a travesty. What is a great epic has been turned in to a sappy romance. Pasternak must be turning in his grave. I wonder if the screenwriter actually read the entire book!

Christine Zachary
Portland, OR

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I almost didn't watch Doctor Zhivago because I couldn't imagine it could be as good as the one starring Omar Sharif. However, I enjoyed it very much. I always enjoy Masterpiece Theatre and look forward to more great shows in the future.

Diane Mabry
Radford, VA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I feel this is one of the most romantic pieces of work that has been produced in a long while; the actors were extremely entertaining. They made me feel everything they were going through in those trying times. I feel this was so rewarding and I hope to see and read this over and over again.

Jean Fulford
Fitzgerald, GA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have just finished watching your production of Doctor Zhivago -- it was wonderful. I must confess I was prepared for a copy (for the most part) of the film. I was delighted to find a more in-depth version of this great story. I was totally absorbed for the entire time, and cried during the ending. What a show! I am a long-time viewer and find Masterpiece Theatre a shining star in a very bleak sky of TV drama. Bravo!

Jean Younh
Shreveport, LA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I could not believe how awful the film turned out to be. First of all, the character Lara was not at all attractive; she had neither substance nor style. The character of Dr. Zhivago was another joke. He was short and boyish-looking, not at all the tall, dark and handsome Yury played by Omar Sharif. This film reminded me of a high school play. We just could not take many of the characters and some of the scenes seriously. Then on top of that, there were some changes in some of the scenes that took away from the "romance" of the film. And lastly, need I make mention of the ending. My husband and I laughed throughout the movie calling it the "Comedy of Doctor Zhivago and Friends". It was poorly and cheaply done! Some classics need to be left alone.

Long Island, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
How do you retell, or remake The Godfather? How about Lawrence of Arabia? Can anyone dispute that these films (and a few others) occupy a special film vault reserved for the perfect? How, and why, would anyone throw money and bother to sully a classic? We're not talking about a remake of The Out-of-Towners. We're talking about Doctor Zhivago!

Well, this version of Doctor Zhivago more than proves itself and stands alone! I was captured by the production, and was left begging for more! I of course drew comparisons to certain scenes with the original, but I never found myself feeling it suffered by comparison.

Excellent! Many kudos to this Doctor Zhivago. I will purchase the DVD for future viewings.

A. Manuel Nieves
Hartford, CT

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I thought this was brilliantly done and the actors were outstanding, especially Lara and Yury. The film version of yesterday haunted my memory but this is great. I love the author and think a lot of the characters were true to his life in his own time.

Dot Ladner
Franklinton, LA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Once again you have produced absolutely incredible television. This is my favorite movie/book of all time and I didn't think it possible that it could be improved upon. I was in heaven watching this amazing piece of literature brought to life once again. Thank you Masterpiece Theatre! PBS makes TV worthwhile.

Amy Van Rossum
Suamico, WI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The currently airing adaptation of Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago has to be the worst piece of work It is, indeed, very, very bad. Good photography and suitable faces cannot compensate for or hide the fact that a profound masterpiece has been given the "treatment" of the thinnest of soap operas. It is a shame, a shock to see such capable actors forced into a script of vapid characterizations and empty storyline. Lean may well have butchered and misrepresented the last third of Pasternak's work and, in so doing, lost a great deal. Yet, his film is a far superior piece than this sad, thin soup.

Nina Kalinyak
Conemaugh, PA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
After seeing Doctor Zhivago, I must say that what amazed me most was Hans Matheson's incredible acting. I've never heard of him before, but I really was impressed by his looks and acting skills. Such a cute boy! I do hope we'll see more of him. Overall, Doctor Zhivago was a very touching and wonderful story, and I truly enjoyed watching it.

Kiri Sen
Phoenix, AZ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Doctor Zhivago was exceptionally well cast, and the score was lovely. It made my heart ache, and I thought it was much better than the Sharif/Christie/Chaplin version. I'll be buying this one on DVD.

Danny Gotham
Chapel Hill, NC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have been a long-time fan of the original Doctor Zhivago starring Omar Sharif; the first time I saw it in the late 60s, I was about 18 years old. Now, at 51, I am delighted with Masterpiece Theatre's adaptation!

Keira Knightley and Hans Matheson are the perfect Lara and Yury. The casting is fantastic with each character so wonderfully believable. Although the original production will always live in my heart, I must admit that I'm having a really hard time waiting to see the conclusion of this most wonderful love story! Thank you PBS!!

Bonnie Annis
Byrnedale, PA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
When I saw the first part, I was hooked. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who took part in making this movie. The ending literally brought me to tears. I am quite pleased to say that I thought the movie was wonderful. It will stay with me for a very long time.

Erin Mc Clain
New Rochelle, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
After watching Masterpiece Theatre for years I was so looking forward to Doctor Zhivago. What a disappointment. I have read the book many times and I can't believe how they butchered it. From the funeral in the beginning it was obvious that the book was not read or even referred to. Maybe it was legal issues that caused such confusion but this thing should be shelved never to be seen or heard from again.

Sharon Jeffrey
York, PA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I was named after a character from the Lean film; my mother and I have watched the original version countless times. I am greatly impressed with the quality and care that has been given to this remake. The new version has a very nice flow and somehow allows the viewer to feel more in tune with what is going on in the film. The choice of actors was brilliant. They all had great chemistry. As a child watching the original version, I thought that the doctor and Lara were not "age appropriate" for each other. I felt he was too old.

How do you improve on a classic? I don't know, but you seem to have done it. Bravo! Will need to add this one to my movie collection. Thanks for this opportunity to share.

Tonya Skaggs
Nampa, ID

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This is what I call a wonderful movie! Doctor Zhivago rules!

Jessica Smith
Nashville, TN

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Wow! This is magnificent! Thank you Masterpiece Theatre and ExxonMobil for bringing this to PBS.

Lainie Friedman
Laguna Niguel, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have read the book a dozen times through the years, and have seen the movie endless times. I didn't think that this adaptation was going to be easy to pull off nor did I give it much of a chance of succeeding. After all, redoing a classic can be dangerous and, at times, doomed from the onset. But this adaptation has potential, and if the second part is as refreshing as the first it will be a success. I like the concentration on characters and less on history. To create such an epic film would require a much bigger screen in order to capture the times when the story takes place. To capture the essence of the character is much more important when doing an adaptation for TV.

I look forward to the conclusion, and hope that the direction this adaptation has given us so far continues to be as interesting, as well as refreshing.

Pete Panagis
South Amboy, NJ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
What a waste of talent and money. The original movie was superb. Nothing new was added by this production. Instead, this money and talent could have been applied to other, hitherto uncovered subjects. It is a shame.

Raad Herms
Chicago IL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I was flipping through the channels one day when I came upon this movie and I began to watch it. I didn't know what it was called and I didn't catch the beginning but I still got caught up in it. I felt Lara's pain and I cried (and I NEVER cry during a movie). (I'd like to mention that I am only 16). It was just so moving and the love was so touching. I have been waiting anxiously all week to see Part Two.

Another good thing about it was that it had no commercial interruptions. You are able to get more caught up in the story when there are no commercials. I can't wait to see the next one!

Jessica Norton
Stafford, VA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Your Doctor Zhivago puts you on top of the movie game! What a show, what performances! Keep up the stellar work!

Ester Hudson
Half Moon Bay, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Doctor Zhivago is one of my most favorite stories and I have it on VHS and have seen it many times. I was excited when I learned through your magazine that you were showing a different Doctor Zhivago tonight.

I watched part of the show and then came the scene when the soldiers were riding through the town and the scene showed amputated legs hanging from the underside of a shed and then a man, minus his left hand and both legs crawling out of a door. It was at that time I decided the graphic scenes were entirely out of character with Doctor Zhivago and Boris Pasternak, as well as PBS.

Bud Kenan
Gold Canyon, AZ

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Why in the world would you want to make such an awful remake of an original that is light years better? And why would you air this third rate series on PBS? Is there any accountability?

Mario Pinot
New York, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I thought the character playing Dr. Zhivago revealed his shallowness and selfishness far more so than in the original Doctor Zhivago starring Omar Sharif. It is hard enough to develop much sympathy for an adulterer who betrays his wife and child, but this guy evoked real anger and pure disgust. With Omar you could feel for the guy; this actor was smarmy and repulsive. I felt only compassion for the women he used and the children he abandoned.

Victor Knowles
Joplin, MO

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