Waking this the last April Sunday morning of 2014 to snow flakes was truly a discouraging thing. The cold damp air as the cat slid out the door came rushing in at me… and as I held the door my thoughts once again flashed back to the Boris Pasternak novel and the film Dr. Zhivago. This cold year is now 116 days old and it seems there is no respite in sight.
The scenes from the movie at Varykino and all the ice hanging inside the old mansion has made me smile with remembrance as all winter my house has been so cold that the windows were frosted over in the unheated majority of the old structure.
Thoughts of Boris Pasternak and Russian politics have been pushed to the front of the news with the Olympics, the Ukrainian situation and Putin... it is bringing to life with his divorce and actions a new novel that would rival Zhivago in a more modern way.
The novel itself covers the years from 1905 - 1920, years of revolution … White Armies…Red Armies and shows the feelings, poverty, hardship and pain that it wrought in the Motherland. Banned in Russia the novel was finally published in 1957 in Italy after it was secreted out. It became a monumental success and actually won the Nobel Prize for literature for Pasternak in 1958... against a backdrop of fear for he, his lover, his wife and his family's well being as the novel in Russia and was claimed to be subversive.
Banned from accepting the award and threatened... writing to the Academy he said, “In view of the meaning given by the society in which I live, I must renounce this undeserved distinction which has been conferred on me. “
In 1960’s Carlo Ponti, the husband of Sophia Loren, bought the screen rights to the novel and offered it to David Lean to make into a film. Lean felt that in no way was Lara, the main character, able to be played by Loren... and produced the movie using Julie Christie and Omar Sharif. The movie of course became a classic and the struggle of the Russian people became a widescreen success that humorously had to be filmed in Spain!
Lara’s theme became a hit that the music director had to record using Balalaika players from a local Russian Orthodox Church who could not read music… this to make it realistic…It won the Academy award.
And those pictures of Varykino - that are forever in my mind…phony. To make it look like ice the mansion and sets were sprayed with white wax and then coated with water… yes…wax!!!