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Dr. Zhivago - Term Paper Example

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Russia’s Geography as Presented in Dr. Zhivago As the largest country in the world, Russia’s geography consists of various landscapes – from mountain ranges to plains, from rivers to frozen desert, from archipelagos to islands…
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Dr. Zhivago
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Russia’s Geography as Presented in Dr. Zhivago As the largest country in the world, Russia’s geography consists of various landscapes – from mountain ranges to plains, from rivers to frozen desert, from archipelagos to islands. It has volcanoes, snow-capped mountains and an extensive coastline. It is a country with a wide range of natural resources, including major deposits of natural gas and other minerals, arable land and fresh water. Because it is located in the most northernpart of the Earth, winters in Russia are severely cold while summers are hot and dry. In Dr. Zhivago, one gets a tour of the vast Russian landscape, and discovers how this environment has shaped culture and society. Through the geographical analysis of Dr. Zhivago, the viewer gets an insight on how David Lean used the topography and the seasons to mark important parts of the story. After a brief scene at Moscow, the movie shows snow-capped mountains and vast plains before it. The trees still have green leaves but the surrounding plains are all brown; which shows that it is summertime. Despite these, one will also notice that people wore thick clothes, gloves and bonnets. From this scene alone, one can already see that the setting for this movie is a cold place but we do not know where exactly in Russia this was. Dr. Zhivago, shown in this scene as a child, has come to bury his mother, but against the dreary background, it seems as if he has come to bury something else. With the magnificent mountain ranges towering above and around him, it looked as if something amazing was going to happen to him in the near future. This was immediately revealed in the next scene where Yuri is told that he can go to Moscow, a place described by Anna Gromeko as “a long way from here” (Lean 13:42). From this part of the story, we can now make sense of Comrade General Zhivago’s question to “the girl” whom he believes is his niece “Does the name ‘Strelnikov’ mean anything? ‘Strelnikov’... ‘Varykino’. That’s a place, not a person”(Lean 8:37-8:48). Looking at the map, we can see that Varykino is located in the west of Moscow, near the European Plains. We know that Yuri is not from Moscow, though he spent much of his life there. With the conversation between “the girl” and Comrade General Zhivago, we can deduce that Varykino the land west of the Ural Mountains, and a few kilometers away from the European Plains, is Yuri’s birth home and the setting of the first scene described in this paper. The scene moves forward and Yuri is now a student of medicine in Moscow, where the landscape is different. Instead of trees, plains, and grasses we see buildings, trains and more people. This was a different place, with a different culture. From the close-knit community where he came from, Yuri has entered a new world where life is much more complicated. People wear black as mandated by the communist party; but it was also a way of protection from the cold. However, unlike the garb of the people from Varykino, clothes and lives in Moscow were more complicated as evidenced by the lives of Lara, Yuri and the people around them. Those who had money could dress up during parties but people like Lara, who had very little, wore modest clothing. Yuri’s life has been uneventful up to this point, as shown by the season - he left Varykino in winter, and this new scene opened with winter. The topography says nothing of what is happening in Russia, but David Lean uses the season to show that something else has happened. From the peaceful revolution where Pasha came out wounded, to the rape of Lara, we know that new things will be happening to the characters. From the civilized world of Moscow, Lara is next shown in a valley where there is lush vegetation. In a previous conversation with Komarovsky, we know that they are in the Gradov in the Urals. Pasha signs up with the Bolsheviks and is seen next in a sea of snow, where trees have already lost their leaves. Some of them have been burned down – an evidence of the death that surrounds him. As the season changes, and the situation of the revolution changes, armies start marching back from the frozen desert or tundra. Again, David Lean strengthens the message, a long, fruitless war is about to happen. In addition, in the middle of this war Lara and Yuri will find a love they will cherish forever. At 1:20:30 of the movie, Lara and Yuri receive the message that Lenin has been captured and is already in Moscow. This strengthens the previous scenes where the two are shown travelling in a vast plane with the Ural Mountains in the background. This effectively marked the start of a new story. It was also the point where new geographic features were shown. In a distant area from the hospital where Lara and Yuri were assigned, one will see a body of water. How large this was, we cannot identify, but throughout the next half of the movie, one sees a lot of water features like beaches and lakes. Much of the civilizations in Russia are found in plains, the mountains offered a break in the routine. In most of the movie, the mountains were used to depict something “different” or unexpected is about to happen. It was used as a symbol for a “potential”. The deserts were the killing fields; it was the venue of pain, suffering and death. Meanwhile, the seasons carried with them specific messages. Winter was a dismal time – all unfortunate things happen during winter. Summer, on the other hand, created a light mood, which in turn gave good tidings to the characters. Meanwhile, beaches where idyllic, they served to reinforce the traditional way of living, which can no longer be found in Moscow, or have been totally destroyed by the wars in the plains. Conclusion For most of the film, the characters are unaware of the changes in the geography and climate. They lived their lives normally – they did their daily tasks, as most people are apt to do. Meanwhile, David Lean used the topography and seasons to reinforce his message and strengthen the story. Every geographic feature signified a different “incident” happening in the lives of the characters while the seasons created different emotions. We know from reviews that this movie was shot in different locations. Except for the interior of the homes and some scenes in Moscow, one cannot discover that the setting was merely a studio or that it was shot in Spain or Finland, but this was perhaps due to the fact that I am unaware of the entire expanse of Russian geography. But for the story unfolding the way it did, the geography and seasons strengthened the emotions and the messages of the story so that the movie is not only wrought with substance, but also of love and beauty. Works cited Lean, David. “Dr. Zhivago.” Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1965. Theater. Read More
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