DVD & Blu-ray

This is the one “Classic Hollywood Film” that I have never seen…yet I too regard it as a classic.

Revolutionary technology restores ‘Zhivago’ to glory
In following Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), both of which earned best-picture Oscars as well as Academy Awards for director David Lean, Doctor Zhivago was called soap-operatic and plodding. But the 1965 film weathered those attacks to become a classic.
The 45th anniversary edition, out Tuesday on DVD ($25) and Blu-ray Disc ($36), offers a reason to revisit Zhivago. The restoration improves on the 2002 DVD by preserving the lighting and color palette intended by Lean and cinematographer Freddie Young.
Lean’s trademark spectacle shots, shot in Finland, Spain and Canada, are sharper. Shadows that foretell the revolution are more ominous. And Julie Christie’s Lara is even more luminous.
Colors had faded as the film aged. By correcting that, “you notice subtleties which were not apparent previously, such as when Zhivago (Omar Sharif) encounters Lara at the library in Varykino,” says Ned Price, vice president of Warner Bros.’ mastering. “You will notice that the light subtly changed to warmth. It happens a number of times when he sees her. And when they are saying goodbye in the hospital where she is ironing and you see the sun go behind them and there is this beautiful yellow wash that slowly occurs. Those color transitions were much more apparent.”
Much of the original negative was too fragile when making the earlier DVD, so a duplicate was used. This time, technology allowed the delicate negative to be scanned at a higher resolution.
The sprocket holes for the negative, used for making 70-millimeter blowup prints, were worn, which prevented traditional digital scanning. Restorers used a modified flatbed scanner to get a stable image, Price says.
Digital scanning was done at 8K resolution, 16 times that of HDTV. “This restoration not only resulted in a Blu-ray Disc release but also, finally, a new film negative that will go into our vault and has a life expectancy of over 300 years,” Price says.
New to both the DVD and Blu-ray is Doctor Zhivago: A Celebration with filmmakers including Gary Ross (Seabiscuit), Taylor Hackford (Ray) and Martin Campbell (Casino Royale).
They touch on the historical context of the film, a Russian epic released at the height of the Cold War, and the novel Doctor Zhivago, written by Boris Pasternak.
The hit score by Maurice Jarre earned the film one of its five Oscars; it was nominated for 10, including best picture. The American Film Institute put Zhivago at No. 39 on its Top 100 list in 1998. The film was dropped from the 2007 list but is No. 7 on the AFI’s list of cinematic love stories.
Rita Tushingham, who played the younger Tonya, said that during production, “people absolutely thought (the film) was something special.”
This restoration “enriches the film,” she says. “People who love the film will want to have (the new) version.”