Doctor Zhivago: The story of the indomitable spirit of man

Directed by Mr. David Lean
Cinematographed by Mr. Freddie Young
Movie Analysis by Ms. Aradhana Srivastava

A few weeks ago, while relaxing on a warm Saturday night, drinking coffee in a roadside café, I heard a familiar tune reminding me of snow-capped mountains, breathtaking scenery, a palace frozen in ice and time, and the beautiful forever hopeful eyes of a man; a poet- doctor. The tune was from the soundtrack of the 1965 classic “Doctor Zhivago” based on a novel of the same name, written by the famed Russian poet-writer Boris Pasternak.

Doctor Zhivago was directed by the celebrated director Mr. David Lean and was cinematographed by the highly acclaimed Director of Photography Mr. Freddie Young. Doctor Zhivago could be characterized as an epic, a romance, a war or even a history film. It would fit any of the four genres. Yet, it is a movie about life, eternal hope and the indomitable spirit of man against all odds. Incidentally, the literal translation of the word Zhivago means “life”. So, when the director asks the cinematographer to translate life & hope caught amidst war & revolution on film, how does the DP achieve such a tall task? Mr. Young not only accomplished it with great élan but he did that on a 70 mm canvas.

The movie begins in a very somber mood. Yevgraf is shown as a high-ranking officer looking down from a glass window in a darkened tunnel as the employees slowly start streaming in. It is interesting to note that the only color inside the tunnel is a red star above the entrance symbolizing the Russian revolution and its victory. Light is streaming though the entrance into the tunnel creating shadows of the people on the opposite wall. On one side, there are real people moving and on the other it is just their shadows. (Low Lighting Tunnel). When Tonya first comes to meet him, she is shown standing behind bars of the door as if she is caged in her confused memories. (Caged Young Tonya) When he meets Tonya for the first time, the camera is positioned in a way that Yevgraf is on one side and on the other, Tonya and Yevgraf’s reflection are both seen together in the dark window. The audience is told that Yevgraf is a part of Tonya’s life although she is unaware of it and he hasn’t told her anything yet. (Mirrored Reflection - Yevgraf With Tonya).

Also, during their scenes, Yevgraf is in visual dominance and is placed close to the camera, both because he is the person in authority and also because he knows more about the girl than she knows about herself. The audience connects more with Yevgraf this way and is interested to know what is he going to say next. (Yevgraf Close Up)

Inserts have been used very effectively for Lara and Yuri’s photos in Yuri’s book to introduce them for the first time. This way, the audience is a given a clue that they would be together sometime in the movie since the story in the beginning takes both of them on two very different paths. (Lara Insert)

As soon as the movie goes back into flashback, the first scene begins with a wide angle shot of the Urals in the background, a cross in the foreground and a group of people in the snow. It is interesting to note that the Urals are forever shot with the sun shining on the very top even if it is in shadows at the bottom. It signifies life & hope that is eternal and is forever present in nature & in the heart of the main protagonist. (Establishing Shot Urals)

Following are few of the themes that have been treated very effectively as a narrative tool through the camera:

Ø      Yuri: The Hero/ The eternal optimist à Yuri Zhivago is a poet and a doctor, which makes him a person who tends to both, the soul and the body. (Lighting On The Doctor's Eyes) He is a bourgeois and has access to all the upper class in Moscow. Yet, he belongs to no class. He is free in his soul. (Free In Soul) He adjusts to all the changes around him, through war, revolution or strife. One might even consider him a passive protagonist. Yet he is the most alive of all, who dares to have a personal life when others call it dead; who can write poetry when the whole world around him is going to pieces; who can look at the moon on a chilly night and be happy that it exists. The first time Yuri’s character is introduced in the film, he is shown listening to the tune of his heart looking at the trees full of life & music while the others prepare for his mother’s burial. He is shown standing all alone on one side while everyone else is on the other side. (Yuri - All Alone) From the beginning itself, the audience knows this is the journey of this one child/ man against the whole world. The stage is set to respect this little child who sleeps all alone looking at his balalaika in the night (Balalaika Lighting) and when the wind howls, he does not duck for cover. He rushes to look out his window at the snow and the rustling of leaves. (Young Yuri Framed) It is interesting to note that not once in the movie does the audience see Yuri descending any stairs. He is forever shown climbing the stairs or running towards the camera, always ascending in the eyes of the audience. (Yuri On Height) He dies the same way he lived, full of hope of seeing Lara once again.

Ø      Curtains and starkness: Two worlds compared à the two eras; pre and post the revolution are beautifully framed between curtains. The houses of the upper class of Russia are framed in rich tapestry & curtains and are saturated with deep reds signifying luxury. Also they are brightly lit such as the house for Christmas celebration, to the point of being garish as the place where Komarovsky takes Lara for dinner. (Contrast Between Two Worlds) Before the revolution, Moscow is forever shown in snow. (Establishing Shot Lara's Moscow) The stark difference between the two worlds is dramatically captured between the curtains in a way that from inside a house, the black and white street outside looks like a different era. (Two Worlds) In fact, the first time the audience sees a street without any snow in Moscow is when Yuri returns back after serving in the hospital and the revolution is over. (Empty Windows And No Snow) The Moscow after the revolution has no curtains framing the windows. The lighting is neutral to low. Everything is the same and equal for every one. They share the same houses, food, rations and the same fate.

Ø      Windows: The objective and subjective à A very effective tool in cinematography in this movie has been the window. It has been used a number of times to suggest two different worlds on both the sides and hence creates a transparent barrier. It also represents the division between romanticism and reality. Several scenes in the film are shot through windows. The camera hovers outside the window panning from one window to the other making the audience suddenly uncomfortable that they are peeking into the private happenings of other people's lives. But then the camera glides in inside the room and the scene changes from just being an objective observer to being a part of the happenings. Yuri sees Lara for the first time across a window. The audience looks at Lara confiding about her affair to Pasha from across the window, (Tracking From Outside) and then Lara almost looks at the camera suggesting either she caught the audience listening or she heard a sleigh carrying Yuri and Tonya on the street. (Candle Reflection On Window) It is interesting that the camera never looks at Yuri from outside the window. It always involves the viewer by framing from behind Yuri looking out the window as in Varykino. (Yuri Behind Window) Similar is the case with Yevgraf in the beginning of the movie. Strenlikov practically looks like a prisoner behind the glass window of his red train looking at the receding back of Yuri who has just been freed under his commands. (Framed Strelnikov) He is a prisoner of his ideals while Yuri is forever free in his heart. When Yuri and Lara meet again in Yuriatin, the camera follows them for a long time, and when they reach Lara’s house, it precedes them and cranes up looking at the balcony. (Camera Outside Lara's House In Yuriatin) The audience expects it to again enter through the window. But this time, the camera goes straight inside the house, looking at the door as Yuri & Lara enter. (Entering Through The Door) There is no barrier between the audience and Yuri & Lara.

Ø      Yuri and Lara’s homes: a class apart à While Yuri is shown belonging to the upper class, his home is as neutral as him. So, there are curtains framing the window but they are of muted colors. There are books everywhere. The home is brightly lit but not garish. It is a cheerful house with things of comfort but is not loud or gaudy. (Yuri's Home) Lara on the other hand is shown living with her working mother in poor conditions. (Lara - Framed In Poverty) The rooms are only lit as required. Hence, there are areas of shadows or areas of high key lighting signifying the shaded life she and her mother lead. (Selective Lighting On Lara)

Ø      Practical lighting: reality illuminated à A number of times in the film, practical lighting has been used in the form of street lights, lamp shades, candle lights, moon light etc. (Practical Lighting On Streets) The street lights and moon light illuminating the peace marchers and the Tsar soldiers mounted on horses at two ends of the road gave the scene a sense of foreboding and fear for the empty handed marchers. (Czar's Army) Also, effect of their clash is shown through the emotions on the dimly lit face of Yuri; a witness to the extreme atrocity.

Ø      Mirrors: a reflection of the true-self à Lara is shown a number of times reflected on one side of the mirror. She leads a double life in the beginning, first exploited by Komarovsky and then by the high-minded Pasha. (Split Into Two Through Mirrors) Both claim to love her, yet her reflection in the mirror yearns to a faraway tune of freedom. When Komarovsky looks at Lara’s reflection in the red dress, the viewer only sees her body and no face in the mirror, which is how Komarovsky sees her; an object he seduces and exploits. (Object For Komarovsky) She herself is again shown split in two through her alter ago visible in the mirror. (Red Dress Lara - Split In Two) Once, Komarovsky and Pasha exit Lara’s life, the viewer does not see her looking at her reflection again. She no longer leads the double life she was forced to live. Zhivago is shown looking into the mirror only once, when he returns back to Yuriatin after a long time; disheveled, cold and haggard. (Yuri In Mirror) He has been through a tough journey through war & conflict and what he has seen is too much for even him to take.

Ø      Candles: Beacon of hope àCandles have been used to suggest life. Lara’s house is the only one lit when she lives in Yuriatin. (Beacon Of Light) Similarly, when Yuri and Lara go to the ice-palace, Yuri writes his famous poems by the side of a single candle. (Lighting The Way To Immortality) It is just that one candle burning high up in Lara’s window that he looks at when he is in Moscow riding in a sleigh with Tonya on the Christmas night. It is also to suggest that while Lara is impure from Pasha and Komarovsky’s standards, Zhivago looks high up at her window. (One Light In The Window) For him, she symbolizes hope and love.

Ø      The march: the beginning of a revolution à The march scene of the film reminds me of the famous “Odessa Steps” sequence from Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin. The low lighting, the long shots of the peace marchers shrouded in gray, the red banners symbolizing their quest for life on one side, (Peace Protest) the Tsar soldiers mounted on horses glittering in the dark on the other side, (Czar's Army) and Zhivago in the middle standing as a witness to the atrocity, have all been framed in a way that the viewer realizes the terrible truth of the situation in advance. The emotional impact of the eventual clash (The Clash) is captured through the emotions playing on the face of the doctor. (Yuri's Reaction - Peace Protest) The shot of the red blood glistening on the white snow is an extremely effective composition suggesting the now imminent clash between the white and red army. (Blood On Snow)

Ø      The war: frozen in time à The long shots of the war through wide angle, the army shivering in the cold (War In Snow), the ice cracking under the boots of the soldiers, (Ice Cracking) the dead soldiers frozen in the snow and time (Buried In Snow) are just few of the very effective shots of the war. One shot that stands out is the war scene through Pasha’s broken glasses lying on the ground as a bomb explodes near him. (War Through Glasses)

Ø      Lara: The sunflower à Lara is synonymous with the sunflowers and light in Yuri’s life. She is after all the Lara in “Lara’s Theme”. (Lighting On Lara'sEyes) She symbolizes Russia who is mistreated by both the red and the white. It is only the artist and the poet who can really value and love her. In the beginning, she is confused and the two men in her life namely, Pasha and Komarovsky have visual dominance over her. However, at the Christmas party that she gets visual dominance over all others, even Yuri. (lara\visualDominance_Lara.jpg) Just like Yuri, she has the courage to withstand all the odds in her life. One very interesting composition used on Lara is the shadow of a chain across her face as she stands next to Yuri nursing a patient. (Chain On Lara's Face) But for Yuri, she resembles the sunflower of his soul, hence a number of dissolves have been used from a sunflower to Lara’s face as Yuri remembers her. (SunFlower Dissolve To Lara's Face)

Ø      Relationships: the way they are connected à Yuri and Tonya share a love almost that of siblings. Yuri loves Tonya but they are still distant from each other. So while they sit together as lovers on the stairs listening to the music, there is a space for one more to pass. (Yuri And Tonya Relationship) Pasha lives for his ideals. It is against his high moral ground that Lara would have an affair with Komarovsky. Although he marries her, he can never accept such a severe blow to his principles and enlists in the army leaving Lara and his earlier life forever. Yuri and Lara are one and the same. They have hope under the direst of circumstances. The first time the adult Yuri is shown, his hands grasping the microscope are shown first. (Yuri Hands - Close Up) The first time Yuri sees Lara in her home, he looks at her hand. (Lara Hands - Close Up) The first time they both see each other, it is in the middle of war, across a number of dead soldiers, but they are turned towards each other and they walk closer. (Lara And Yuri - From Two Sides Of War) It is interesting to note that they are also lit in a similar way with a key light lighting their eyes. Another fascinating fact is that in the very beginning of the movie, when Yevgraf is talking to young Tonya about her parents, he first tells her about Yuri and then Lara. However, visually it is opposite and Lara is shown before Yuri’s picture in the book. That is how their love story and relationship is initiated visually.

Ø      Trains: Seasons change à the first shot of the train is shown when Tonya comes back from Paris. It is a sunny day and the composition is brightly lit. The next time the train is shown is after the revolution in the middle of night. It is low lit with hundreds of people sleeping on the train station under the watchful eyes of Lenin and the guards. (Waiting For The Train) The times have changed. It is a different season and a different era.

The various elements of cinematography in Doctor Zhivago are as follows:

Ø      Lighting à The movie starts with a night shot and low lighting inside a tunnel signifying trying times, hardships and secrets to the viewer. As the movie proceeds, the lighting during pre-revolution period can be divided into two classes just as the society was; the upper that was brightly and cheerfully lit sometimes to the point of being garish and the lower class that was lit in a dark and moody fashion. Sometimes the sole lighting for the lower class would be a single candle or the street light or even the moonlight. Once the revolution was over, the houses and streets were lit similarly as if there were no more divides, no more secrets, the public owned everything. (Yuri's POV) The very low lighting in the library where the serendipitous meeting of Lara and Yuri takes place is extremely effective and poignant. (Selective Lighting On Yuri In Library) A number of times the sunlight glistening between the trees or the moon light peeping from behind the clouds (Moon Between Train Smoke) has been shown along with the leitmotif tune to Yuri to describe the eternal hope and sunshine inside his heart. The movie ends during daytime in sunshine with a rainbow over the dam suggesting the end of misery and a happy resolution. (Rainbow Over Dam)

Ø      Colors à The bright red curtains and décor inside the upper class are highly saturated signifying the falseness and unreality of such a lifestyle. (Opulence) In stark contrast is the low contrast outdoors, mostly in shades of black and gray, a sign of their gray life. (Establishing Shot - Moscow) In all times, Yuri’s home has balanced contrast just like himself. The surroundings for Lara on the other hand, always have one patch of high contrast area, mostly flowers, standing out amongst the drab and the gray. The colors of her red dress are extremely saturated. When she works as a nurse with Yuri in the hospital, there is a vase of bright yellow sunflowers placed in visual dominance signifying the life and hope she brought to her surroundings and to Yuri. (Lara With Backdrop Of SunFlowers) A similar kind of vase can be seen later in her home in Yuriatin. (Yellow Flowers In Lara's House In Yuriatin) Once she meets Yuri, the flowers change to shades of red; the color of passion. (Red Flowers In Lara's House)

Ø      Interiors and Exteriors à the movie has been shot at various interior and exterior location as needed. The exteriors range from the dimly lit streets of Moscow to sweeping vistas of snow capped mountains (Urals) to green valleys to frozen battlefields. (People On Snow - Wide Angle) The interiors too range from the homes of the main protagonists to hospitals cramped with patients to the extremely sparse home of Yuri and Tonya in Varikino. The sun forever shines through one of the window’s of Lara’s home in Yuriatin.(Sunflowers Bedroom And Sun) In fact, this film has few very interesting and breath-taking interior locations. The interiors inside the train compartment have been filmed in low light, suggesting realism into the scenes. The red stove burning in the middle is the only source of warmth for the people inside. Another interior is the ice palace. The frozen palace is like layers over layers of memories of happier times where Lara and Yuri come to stay and enjoy the limited time in the present that they have for each other before destiny pulls them apart once again. (Ice Palace) It is at this place that under the light of one candle burning in the night, art comes out of Yuri’s soul and he writes his famous poems. (One Candle)

Ø      Faces à Yuri and Lara’s faces are lit in a similar fashion most of the times. It is their eyes that the viewer sees instantly. (Lighting On Yuri's Eyes) and (Light On Lara's Eyes In Library) Infact at times, the audience only sees Yuri’s eyes glistening in the dark such as when talking to Lara while she is ironing the clothes in the hospital. (Selective Lighting On Yuri And Lara) His heart has secrets wishes with Lara, hence he is not shown in light. Only his eyes can be seen looking at Lara taking in all he can in the limited time they have together. Strelnikov/ Pasha has generally been lit evenly. As he says, the personal life is dead in Russia, he has no secrets to hide, nothing to hold back in his heart. His heart is devoid of passion or feelings. Tonya has been lit in a similar way as Pasha without any hard edges on her face. She has been depicted the sweet trusting wife of Yuri who loves him unconditionally amidst all difficulties. There is an instance when she reads Yuri’s letter out loud to her father. The camera is on Medium shot of her and her father. As soon as she starts reading about Lara’s description in the letter, the camera goes to a close-up of her face, showing her reaction about a woman her husband is so impressed with. Komorovsky on the other hand has been lit very interestingly, at times from the side or from under his face. (Shaded Komarovsky) He is a devious person and most of the times, the audience does not know what he is up to. He is evil, full of hatred & jealousy and wants to manipulate Lara’s life. For him she is just a girl he can take advantage of. That is why there are a number of shots where the camera is placed at a low angle as he looks down upon Lara in a high-minded way. (Low Angle Camera - Komarosky) When Lara’s mother gets ill before going for the ball dance, he is framed between the mother and daughter depicting their relationship. (Framed Between Lara And Mother)

Ø      Camera movement à Few unusual camera movements have been used in this film. One example could be the case where the camera cranes up to the window of a character and keeps hovering outside as if peeping into the private life of the person and see what they are up to. The viewer sees the camera hovering outside Lara’s window where her mother is tossing and turning in the bed and Komarovsky is shown rushing from one side to another. The camera is motivated by his movement and pans outside from one window to the other. Another similar instance is when Lara reveals her secret affair to Pasha. (Tracking From Outside) The viewer again looks from outside the window, first looking through fog and the light of one single candle. Slowly, Pasha is revealed reading Lara’s letter. He gets angry. She cries. And then they unite. It could be a more subjective shot. However, since the viewer is a witness to the society and culture of that time, he is not an actual participant unless it is from the point of view of the artist, Yuri. Another camera movement that has been used at a number of instances is where the camera is stationary in the beginning, starts panning with a person, leaves him and starts following another. An example for this type of movement is seen early the film where the camera starts with focusing on Yuri, (Establishing Shot - Moscow In Snow) leaves him as soon as Lara gets off the tram and starts following her (Establishing Shot - Lara's Moscow) till she meets Pasha distributing flyers for the meeting. There are a number of crane shots where the camera comes down to show the wintry branches of the trees and the soldiers shivering in cold and then the camera cranes up to reveal acres and acres of greenery depicting a season change and passage of time. (Crane Down Showing Season Change) Another impressive movement was on the train station after the revolution where the camera cranes down from Lenin’s poster on the wall looking at hundreds of people waiting for the train in the dead of the night in Moscow. In fact, the cut back and forth to Lenin’s picture (Two Lenin) and the people; sleeping, (Waiting For The Train) playing music, Zhivago with his family constitutes a powerful montage where everything is being watched even if it is late at night. Tracking shots have been used especially to follow people of importance as in the case of Pasha entering the Christmas party (Camera Following Pasha) or Yevgraf coming inside Yuri’s home in Moscow after the revolution. (Visual Dominance - Yevgraf) The most emotional camera movements were inspired by the leitmotif music playing in the background and Yuri looking for the source of the music in his soul be it the sun glistening through the tress, the moon hiding behind the clouds or Lara sitting in total darkness with only her hand visible to him. (Sun Behind Trees)

Ø      Lenses à In my opinion, this film has few of the most stunning wide-angle vistas ever shot. A sunset on the snow capped Urals in the background with a steam train chugging along in the foreground, (Sunset On Train) a sleigh-ride on the snow in Varikino leading to the ice palace (Ice Palace) and innumerable shots of the beautiful landscape. But that is not all. While on the one hand wide angle has been used to photograph the uncorrupted landscape in full glory, it has also been used as a tool to show the cruelties & miseries of a nation in war & revolution up close and personal. There are wide shots of barbed wire, white snow and human bodies, few alive and the other frozen forever. (Lonely Man On The Road) There are other shots where under the command of one person, thousands jump on cracking ice and run to fight an unnamed enemy. The long shots of the streets of Moscow reek with poverty and are filled with beggars. The interiors of hospitals cramped with beds after beds of wounded show the inhuman treatment they suffer where there is no cost of human life. There are few shots where the wide angle has been used with deep focus (Deep Focus) as in the shot of the empty hospital where a burst of sunflower in a vase has visual dominance while the viewer sees the receding back of Yuri explaining the loneliness he feels. (Deep Focus - Sunflowers In Visual Dominance) Long lenses on the other hand were used to provide shallow focus and bring attention to the character in the foreground as in the case of Yuri’s eyes glittering in the dark while looking at Lara ironing the clothes in the hospital. (Lighting On Eyes - Shallow Focus) He has hidden feelings and the camera focuses just on his face and eyes. Long lenses were also at times used to focus on inanimate objects like the bottle of iodine in a prior scene. The viewer does not understand the significance of that shot until the bottle is shown again, this time empty since Lara’s mother has tried to commit suicide by swallowing the contents of the same bottle. (Iodine Bottle)

Ø      Angles, composition and framing à Various compositions, framing techniques and camera angles have been used to describe the current state of events. Sometimes the framing is used in a way that is very disturbing. In the scene where the young Zhivago is introduced working in lab, he is framed in a way that the statue of a princely horse grows out of his head. (Yuri Studying In Moscow) Yuri belongs to the upper class and he is apparently carrying the weight of it. He is an aristocrat and that is why he is always framed between curtains and windows in the first half of the movie. During any marches or rallies, his house is always in the center, placing his character caught in the middle of the revolution. He, however, is always framed high up in the balcony looking at all the proceedings. (Yuri On Height) Also since he is the eternal hero, he is always shown ascending stairs and rising up in people’s eyes. Yuri and Lara have mostly been framed in a medium to close shot since they are close to the audience and the viewer cares about them. Few POV shots have been used for Yuri as he looks around and tries to understand. (Yuri's POV) Visual dominance has been used to suggest who is the most important as in the case of Lara being forever in the shadow of Pasha and Komarovsky in the first half of the movie. Glass doors (Lara Pasha - Opposite Side Of Door), mirrors and windows have also been used a major component of composition to provide a barrier between various classes or between the audience & the characters in the movie or just to hide secrets. There is a composition where Lara and Pasha are both framed in a way that the camera can see them directly as well as their reflection in the mirror. They are both hiding something from each other, while Pasha wants her to hide the pistol; she is also hiding a secret of her affair with Komarovsky. (Split Into Two Through Mirrors) After Pasha has left the frame, Lara is the only one reflected in the mirror showing that she is split in two, torn between the decision to hide the pistol making her a part of Pasha’s conspiracy or stay away from it. Few compositions are really expressive as the scene where Yuri sees Lara in her house for the first time. The viewer sees the black shadow of Yuri looking for Lara, a train passes nearby, the whole house shudders and shakes along with the chandelier in the dark. (Selective Lighting On Yuri) The leitmotif music begins and the viewer along with Yuri senses that something of importance is going to happen. It is interesting that the music stops if Yuri advances in the wrong direction. Yuri is reflected in the same glass across which Lara is sitting in darkness and the viewer along with Yuri sees her one hand illuminated. (Close Up - Lara Hands) There is another scene in which Lara looks directly at the camera (Lara Looking At Camera) and the audience is shown a close up shot of the pistol (Insert - Pistol) reminding one of Kuleshov effect. The audience realizes Lara’s next step before she takes it. The church scene first puts the bible in visual dominance in front of Lara and the priest (Visual Dominance - Bible) and then there is plongee shot from the top of the church at the tiny frame of Lara putting her under the weight of the entire church and its traditions. (Plongee - Lara From Church Top) Life after the revolution uses compositions suggesting poor living conditions. The house is now devoid of any finery, Tonya is in a plain black & white dress. There is not much furniture except books. (After The Revolution - Inside The House) The revolution has been portrayed as red flags being in visual dominance in a scene where a train travels over snow filled tracks. (Red Flags On Train)

Ø      Unusual shots or techniques à During the scene where the red army is firing at young schoolboys of the white army, there is a shot where the corners of the frame are dark/ black that suggest vignetting. (Vignetting) There are a number of other optical effects such as a sunflower dissolving into Lara’s face (SunFlower Dissolve To Lara's Face), iris effect on Yuri when he loses consciousness and is in delirium (Iris Effect) etc.

The theme of the movie was eternal love & hope amidst war & strife. Mr. Young filmed this beautifully through the juxtaposition of wide sweeping shots with closer shots. An example could be a wide shot of a train chugging along with the Urals in the background depicting peace & quiet in nature & the invincible human soul. It is only when the camera goes closer, inside peoples houses or the train compartments that there is misery and despair. This despair is so potent that it transcends all boundaries of celluloid and touches any audience watching this film. Yuri’s journey through Russia has an epic feeling because he travels through a world that is in striking contrast to him. He remains uncorrupted by the violence surrounding him and wishes to find a place away from it all, which drives him from Moscow to Siberia and eventually back to Moscow. He is the poet – doctor who remains hopeful till the end. It is interesting to note that the movie tries to express the inner life of a poet without using a single line of poetry. The movie accomplishes it by writing poetry on the film canvas…!