We all have our favorite scenes from Doctor Zhivago. For this author one scene lived on forever.
Posted in , Nov 6, 2012
I got my first job at the concession stand at the Golf Mill Theater in Niles, Illinois. Mom worked there too, selling tickets, and one of the fringe benefits was that we could see any movie for free. One night after our shifts, we stayed for the late show: Doctor Zhivago—all three hours of it.
I don’t think I’d ever seen anything more romantic.
Here was the story of the dark-eyed Doctor Zhivago (dashing Omar Sharif) and his love for the nurse Lara (gorgeous Julie Christie) set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution—wrenching shots of soldiers being treated by Zhivago and Lara, and heart-stopping scenes of revolutionaries in the Moscow streets.
We saw the glamour of Russian society with their rich sables and silks, especially a ravishing red dress worn by Julie Christie.
But the scene that took our breath away came near the end when Zhivago made a brutal trek across an icy landscape to meet his beloved Lara again. All at once the snows are gone and the screen melts into a field of jonquils fluttering in the breeze.
Lara’s theme, the song I came to know as “Somewhere My Love,” swoops in, and you know that for all the misery the couple has faced and all the sorrow still ahead, their love will survive. Love would always triumph over the dark forces of history.
After that my heart would stir every time the strains of Lara’s theme would reach to the candy counter. From my perch I could picture Julie Christie in her fur hat with her love, Omar Sharif. And I could see the jonquils!
One night Mom came by. “It’s break time,” she said. “Come with me.” We climbed the stairs and stood in the doorway. I looked to the screen and there they were—a whole field of yellow flowers swaying to Lara’s theme.
For the rest of the long run Mom and I took our breaks so we could watch that one moment in Doctor Zhivago when the snows melt and spring bursts through.
Things were hard at home. Money was tight and we ate a lot of sandwiches, but that shared moment of springtime in the back of the theater gave us hope. We had our love for each other and knew that God loved us too. We would get through—and we did.
For Mom’s birthday I bought her the soundtrack to Doctor Zhivago, and long after the movie stopped playing at the Golf Mill Theater, she’d listen to it. Time and again I’d find her sitting next to the stereo, murmuring the words of the song.
We watched the movie too whenever it turned up on TV, the two of us waiting for the golden jonquils in the field.
Years later Mom was in the hospital, fighting an illness she wouldn’t survive. Sitting by her bedside, I searched for words of comfort.
As her breathing slowed I hummed the song we both loved. Then I whispered: “The breeze is warm and gentle, the snows are gone and the jonquils are swaying, extending as far as the eye can see...”