I had an absolute treat last night, for my last bit of work before heading home for Xmas tomorrow. We screened the BFI's new re-release of Doctor Zhivago, and to a busy audience to! I know I've seen the film, or certainly parts of it, in the past, but I recalled so little it was as though I was watching the whole thing for the first time.
I'm so pleased I had the opportunity to experience it on the big screen! Ours is hardly the biggest cinema screen in the world but even so the vistas were spectacular. I really enjoyed the film, and I'm glad to tick it off my 'why haven't I watched this yet' list. I've enjoyed a lot of David Lead films when I was younger (I'd often watch them when they screened on TV at Xmas time!), but somehow missed out Zhivago.
One of the most interesting things about the screening was watching people react to the four-and-a-half minute overture that opens the film...it really throws people! It got me thinking about re-releases, too, as in this particular version the BFI logo played first, followed by the overture, then the MGM (the film's original distributor) logo, then the opening titles. Would people have reacted differently without that first logo? Would we have exhibited it differently (house lights still on a bit, rather than full down)? The film also included and intermission, and while I intended on keeping the house lights down for the 30-second or so 'intermission' card, the audience clearly really needed the intermission as many of them were up on their feet as soon as that card appeared, so up the lights went with them!
I spoke with one lady after the film who hadn't really enjoyed it, finding it too over-blown, but I must say I found myself quite engrossed in the melodrama of it all. Given that the film's release formed part of the BFI's Love season, I was expecting a bit more schmaltz from the film, so I was pleased that actually, although overall melodramatic, the romance played out in quite an under-stated way.