Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dr. Zhivago

I saw Dr. Zhivago and had some musings which I thought I'd post:

The argument against Communism is compelling and original. The usual line is it is bad b/c it is against private property. This is true, but in the end not ‘personal’ enough-to use an oft-mentioned word in the film. Pasternak’s objection is aesthetic: Communism’s abolition of the private sphere would remove love and poetry from the world. Dr. Zhivago is a poet who writes “personal, bourgeois, and self-indulgent” verse. The work has to be censored for awhile since it conflicts with the ideology of the new regime. The New Man does not have time for such things. As Strenlikov says, “the private life is over.” Another character adds, “I once had a wife and four kids.” What happened to them? It doesn’t matter anymore.

On the other hand, in the name of love Dr. Zhivago has a wife and mistress which only leads to heartbreak for all three. Love is personal and can be bourgeois, but self-indulgent it is not. Pasternak doesn't recognize the self-sacrificial aspect of love and that makes it difficult to enjoy the story in the end.

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