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Doctor Zhivago Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

Epic drama combines romance, politics, mature themes.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this epic historical film traces the tumultuous events of the Russian Revolution through the eyes of a noble doctor and poet. Dr. Zhivago’s ideals, and his very-personal poetry, have made him a marked man in the socialist state, and he and his family are forced to make some very difficult choices to survive in the new regime. He also must choose between his wife and mistress, though ultimately the decision is forced upon him by the tragic circumstances of the period. There are several significant battle scenes, but little explicit violence. And while Zhivago’s long-running affair is a key part of the story, there is no onscreen sex. Expect a good amount of smoking and drinking, especially vodka.

  • Families can talk about Dr. Zhivago’s romantic choices. Did he love his wife? What about his mistress? How did he become entangled with both? What do you think about his choices?
  • How does this film explain the events of the Russian Revolution? Did you learn anything new about this turbulent period? Do you think it is accurate?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: Sometimes people get caught up in events greater than themselves, and must do what they can to survive. During the Russian Revolution and the ensuing years of chaos, Dr. Zhivago is forced to choose between his wife and his mistress, and ultimately must make a difficult sacrifice to protect the woman he loves.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: The main characters struggle to get by after being swept up in the cataclysmic events of the Russian Revolution. Dr. Zhivago is noble, earnest, and uncompromising – not the best traits for the time. Though he seems happy with his wife, he also carries on a long-running affair with another woman.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Several major battle scenes that leave people maimed or dead, though little explicit violence. Some intense arguments, and one nasty rape scene.

  • sex false2

    Sex: No nudity or sex, but couples are shown in bed under the covers. The main character carries on a long-running extramarital affair. An older man seduces the teenage daughter of his mistress.

  • language false1

    Language: Little coarse language. One man calls a woman a “bitch” during a heated argument.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Plenty of scenes feature drinking at parties, at meals, or other social events, or just to fend off the brutal Russian cold. Many people smoke cigarettes, and a few men enjoy their cigars.