Movie Review: Doctor Zhivago

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Hi everyone! Here I am again. Today I want to talk about a movie I saw the other day. The movie is “Doctor Zhivago” and it’s based on the novel from Boris Pasternak.

It’s one of those famous classic movies that everyone has seen but for some reason, I had never seen it before, even though I’m a classics lover.

Before I get into it let me just say that this was one of my grandmother’s favorite movie, along with “Gone with the Wind”, every time they showed this movie on the TV she just stopped whatever she was doing and started watching it until it was done, no matter what time it was. So, out of curiosity, my sister and I decided to watch it. Before we started I said to her that if we got bored or if we didn’t like it we could just stop it.

I wasn’t expecting to get so much into it the way I did. The story was captivating, and even if we started watching it late at night I just didn’t want to go to bed until we finished it.

For those of you who did not watch the movie, it’s a love story between a doctor, with the heart of a poet, Yuri Andreyevich Zhivago, (played by Omar Sharif) and a young woman named Larissa or “Lara” (played by Julie Christie). The story is set in Russia during the years going the First World War, the Soviet Revolution and the Soviet Regime, the two protagonists have to go through a vast number of obstacles and tribulation during the course of their lives. I don’t want to reveal too much, in case you haven’t watched it but it’s one of those epic movies, with a lot of hardship and struggles, but also with a lot of beautiful and poetic moments.

Now there is one thing I’ve found particularly interesting about Pasternak’s novel. As it turns out the novel was banned from the USSR, probably due to the fact that it portrays the revolution and the following years in an unflattering light.

The book was smuggled to Milan in 1957 by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, a very famous Italian publisher, and activist. The Italian Communist Party even expelled Feltrinelli for publishing the book. The following year Pasternak was even awarded the noble literature prize, which angered the communist party of the Soviet Union even more.

Now here is the interesting part: apparently in 2014 some declassified documents showed that the CIA used this novel as an instrument to cause discontent inside the USSR, they describe the novel as having “great propaganda value”.

This goes to show how powerful books truly are. It is something I’ve always known, but finding out this information got me thinking about how books and novels are viewed by governments and people in power.

Well anyhow, I’ve found the story particularly interesting and fascinating, I haven’t read the book yet but I will definitely add it to my long Russian Literature reading list. One thing that really stuck with me though was the captivating main theme. Here’s the link if you want to listen to it: https://youtu.be/4T3SUjwrsEo. It was truly fascinating.

This is it, for now, I’ll be back here soon with my weekly Game of Thrones episode review. If you want to let me know in the comments what you think about this movie, please do. I’m also interested in knowing how the book is compared to the movie adaptation, if some of you have read the book please let me know what you think about it.

Book Review: The Captain’s Daughter by Alexander Pushkin

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Hi everyone! Guess what I was finally able to finish in the last few days? … *drumroll*… “The Captain’s Daughter” by Alexander Pushkin!

I know it has been a while since I had promised you a review but for a number of reasons I wasn’t able to finish the book up until now.

The book itself it’s not long at all, you can easily read it in just a few days, and as I said in one of my previous posts, the reason why I wasn’t able to finish it was that I wasn’t actually reading it, I read the first chapter and then I stopped. By the way the version I’ve read was the Italian translated one.

As for the story, I wasn’t expecting how engaging and captivating it could be, I swear that in some parts I just couldn’t wait to turn the page and find out what was going to happen. I was deeply invested in those characters, which was something I wasn’t expecting since it’s just a short book.

This is a historical novel, set during Pugachev’s Rebellion against Catherine II of Russia, during the second part of the 18th Century. The main character, Pyotr Andreyich Grinyov, is a noble young man who gets sent to the army by his father in order to strengthen his character. During his service, he meets Masha, the daughter of Captain Ivan Mironov, the commanding officer at Fort Belogorsky, which is the place where he is serving. The two fall in love and their love story is the main theme of the whole story. Things get complicated when the rebel Pugachev and his army of Cossacks attack the Fort and manage to kill Masha’s parents in the process.

I won’t reveal the ending, if you are interested I strongly advise you to read it, because I  found it to be a very interesting and compelling reading. I learned a little bit more about Russian history, and in the book edition I got there’s also another historical novel, also by Pushkin, called: “History of Pugachev” which I’m currently reading now. It is a less romanticized and more historical description of the events that led to the Pugachev’s Rebellion.

This was also my first book by Russian writer Alexander Pushkin. I was curious to find out whether I would like his style or not, and I have to say that I really, really like it. I know he is considered one of the greatest in Russian literature, like in Italy we have Dante, in England there’s Shakespeare and in Russia there’s Pushkin, so I know he was one of the big ones. I have to say that I’m truly enjoying my journey through Russian Literature, I have yet to find one book that I did not like at all. They are all unique, mysterious and deep in my opinion and I can’t wait to read more.

Right now I’m reading “History of Pugachev” and a novel by Valerio Massimo Manfredi, an Italian author, which is called “Teutoburgo”, I don’t know how the title is going to be translated in English, I guess: “Teuterburg”. After this, I have got three other books by Russian writers, “The Queen of Spades” also by Pushkin, “The Overcoat” and “The Nose” by Gogol and “Day of the Oprichnik” by Vladimir Sorokin. I’m very looking forward to reading all of them, if you have any suggestions please let me know in the comments below, and also if you want to share your thoughts and opinions about Pushkin please do.

As always, here is my favorite quote of the book:

“Young man! If my notes should fall into your hands, remember that the best and most enduring changes are those which stem from an improvement in moral behavior, without any violent upheaval.” Alexander Pushkin

Book Review: Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov

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Hi everyone! Today I’m going to review a little book called “Heart a of Dog” by Mikhail Bulgakov.

I read the Italian version, I finished it just a couple of days ago and I’m still thinking about it. As I said before, I’ve read “The Master and Margarita” and I’ve loved it, I think it’s an incredible book, and it’s probably the strangest book I’ve ever read. It’s one of those books that kind of strikes at the heart, therefore I was looking to get my hands on something else by the same author.

After reading “Heart of a Dog” I can say that I really appreciate Bulgakov’s style. It’s unique, shrewd and incredibly entertaining. I have to admit the book is not that long, still, I’ve read it in a heartbeat.

(Spoiler alert) The plot is quite simple: it’s basically the story of a stray dog, named Sharik, that gets lured into the home of a famous professor. After a few days Sharik undergoes a “Frankenstein’s style” operation in which the professor gives him a human pituitary gland and human testicles. After a miraculous recovery Sharik slowly becomes human, he loses his hair, he starts walking on two feet and he even begins to talk. The downside of the experiment is that Sharik, who now goes by the name Poligraf Poligrafovich Sharikov, behaves badly because he has taken the negative aspects of the donor who was an alcoholic and a bully, for example he swears a lot, he drinks, he harasses the two women who work for the professor etc. The story is set during the soviet times, and it is also a smart critic to the soviet regime, there’s a lot of conflict between Sharikov and his “maker” who are on opposite sides.

If I had to describe this book very simply I would say that it’s Frankenstein meeting Animal Farm. I really enjoyed it, I think Bulgakov is an incredible author, I wish I discovered him sooner. Does anyone have any suggestion on what should I read next? I would really love to read more of his writings. To continue my trip inside the amazing Russian Literature I just started to read “The Captain’s Daughter” by Pushkin, it’s my first Pushkin book so let’s see how that goes… after that, I’m open to suggestions.

I’ll end this review with my favorite quote:

“The whole horror of the situation is that he now has a human heart, not a dog’s heart. And about the rottenest heart in all creation!” Mikhail Bulgakov