Dr Zhivago: Venus In The Midst Of Mars
Like flowers the ice crystals on the window sparkle in the winter sun, transform into a sunny field of daffodils. Spring.
Early-morning, low sun between rows of straight, rough-barked pines flashes as the camera moves.
Treeless, snowy, dead flat land with a horizon straight as a ruler. A single tiny black dot is the only thing that moves: a troika carrying away love.
Lingering images like these tell us that Yuri Zhivago is a poet, and that David Lean is a great film director.
I watched Doctor Zhivago this weekend for the first time in decades. We cried and cried. It is so beautiful and passionate, and it has gained layers of meaning through the years.
Based on the bestselling novel by Boris Pasternak, the film was released in December 1965. The novel had been smuggled out of Russia and published in the West in 1958, gaining Pasternak a Nobel prize nomination, which he had to turn down because the Soviet authorities hated the novel so much.
The heart of the film is the story of an impossible, fated love, set against the Russian revolution and the civil war that followed.
It is a story of Venus set in a time of Mars.
Venus is love, art, beauty, tenderness: all represented by the figure of Lara, played by Julie Christie. Zhivago, played by Omar Sharif, is famous because of the slender volume of poems in which he immortalised her and their passion.
As the embodiment of Venus naturally Christie has Venus at the very top of the chart on her MC. Is there any actress who so perfectly exemplifies Cancer rising with her wide, emotionally-open, luminous face?
Omar Sharif, embodying the poet, has a sensitive, romantic Venus-Moon conjunction in Gemini, the sign of the bard. His Sun-Mercury in Aries is in the seventh house of lovers and conjuncts Christie’s Sun-Venus conjunction exactly.
These two Aries actors worked with Aries director David Lean, channelling the vision of an Aquarian writer. You can see in Boris Pasternak’s own chart the fight between Venus, planet of love and Mars, the planet of war. They are at a hostile angle.
Lean takes those deep feelings that Pasternak expressed in words (look Mercury-Jupiter conjunction) and makes them materially visible in the film, look at how his Mars-Venus conjunction works so well with Neptune, the film maker’s planet, in Cancer, a sign of profound visual sensitivity.
The movie is a song in images, story and music to the endurance of personal, sensual experience in the face of tyranny.
I won’t ruin it for you by telling you the end but I could not help thinking of Syria and Ukraine. Lives are broken, families destroyed, lovers heartbroken, children lost in the storm of history. There is no point pretending that all will be retrieved in this lifetime. It won’t. But we are all part of the great river of human feeling and that feeling flows on from one generation to the next, despite history. Love continues. Art endures. Each of our small lives matters.
data from astrodatabank.