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Dr. Zhivago for the Day

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 17 years ago, in 2006, on the World Wide Web.

Claire Wolfe watched David Lean’s 1965 film of Dr. Zhivago again the other night, and she posted a couple of favorite quotes–one from Uncle Alex, and the other from the anarchist Kostoyed Amourski. Wonderful lines, both of them. Here’s my favorite, though, from Zhivago’s meeting with a feared Red Army commander. I just wish that they were not so relevant to the daily business of politics in our own time:

Strelnikov: The private life is dead — for a man with any manhood.

Zhivago: I saw some of your manhood at a village called Mink.

Strelnikov: They were selling horses to the Whites.

Zhivago: No. It seems you burned the wrong village.

Strelnikov: They always say that. And what does it matter? A village betrays us, a village is burned. The point is made.

Zhivago: Your point. Their village.

3 replies to Dr. Zhivago for the Day Use a feed to Follow replies to this article

  1. Dain

    Wasn’t Strelnikov supposed to be the equivalent of Trotsky?

    What a film. I remember when Strelnikov said to Zhivago: “There is nothing in this world more important to me than the revolution, even Lara”. I’ve known that personality type, so single minded as to renounce love and friends and all those things thae make up a full life. But at the same time I can sympathize…

    I’ll have to watch it again. I don’t remember any anarchists.

  2. Rad Geek


    Strelnikov incorporates a lot of elements from Trotsky, but has some substantial personality differences and at least in the movie he’s portrayed as somewhat more of a loose cannon rather than the chief of the Red Army apparatus (I haven’t read the novel, so I wouldn’t know if that’s a faithful translation). Of course he also ends up differently from Trotsky; partly I guess because the character never attained the power that Trotsky did. I think that Strelnikov, as a personality, probably also has a lot to do with Pasternak’s take on the revolutionary-fanatic-ascetic ideal that Chernyshevsky immortalized, and that many of the Russian revolutionaries (especially but not only the Bolsheviks) tried to live out.

    The anarchist appears briefly in the scenes on the train to Siberia, where he’s chained into a bunk for transport to voluntary labor in the camps. The character’s played by Klaus Kinski, taunts the guards, shouts Long live anarchy! etc.

  3. L.

    “It’s the system, Lara. People will be different after the revolution.”

    I don’t have anything clever or illuminating to add; just wanted to confirm that I love that movie. And Strelnikov is totally Chernyshevsky’s ideal revolutionary (“They say he lives on bread and water!”) made monstrous by power. Also, Klaus Kinski’s anarchist is practically worth the entire running time of that movie all on his own.

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