Friday, February 14, 2014

Maurice Jarre -- "Lara's Theme" (1965)

When love is not madness, it is not love.
-- Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600-81)

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you 2 or 3 lines readers who suffer from that wonderful form of madness that we call romantic love.

A few years ago, the American Film Institute asked a blue-ribbon panel of actors, directors, critics, film historians, and others to choose the 100 greatest movie love stories of all time.  Dr. Zhivago was ranked at #7 on that list.

I might have ranked Zhivago a little higher, but #7 is nothing to sneeze at.  (Casablanca was #1, while Gone With the Wind was #2.  Click here to see the entire list.)  

Dr. Zhivago stars Julie Christie and Omar Sharif as two of the most star-crossed lovers you'll ever want to meet.  Here's the trailer for the movie:

Director David Lean originally wanted Peter O'Toole to play the lead role.  Paul Newman, Max von Sydow, and Michael Caine were also considered for the part.  Lean eventually chose Sharif, who had played O'Toole's right-man in Lean's hugely successful Lawrence of Arabia.

Sophia Loren, the wife of producer Carlo Ponti, was the original choice for the lead female role, but Lean persuaded Ponti that Loren wasn't right to play Lara.  (Lean told Ponti that his wife was too tall.  But he told screenwriter Robert Bolt that he couldn't buy Loren as a virgin, which the Lara character was early in the movie.)

Yvette Mimieux, Sarah Miles, and Jane Fonda (really?) were also considered for the role, but Lean made the perfect choice when he picked Julie Christie.

Julie Christie as Lara
It's been a long time since I've seen Dr. Zhivago.  All I remember about it are Julie Christie (a fabulous babe), a whole lot of snow, and the theme song -- which is generally known as "Lara's Theme" (after the Julie Christie character).

Composer Maurice Jarre protested loudly that the soundtrack repeated "Lara's Theme" far too many times.  He was unhappy that director David Lean deleted many of the other themes that Jarre had written during the editing process.

But the composer need not have worried:  "Lara's Theme" became one of the most beloved movie themes ever recorded.  Jarre won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for best original score in 1965.

Lyricist Paul Francis Webster later wrote lyrics for "Lara's Theme," and called the resulting song "Somewhere, My Love."  It was a hit for Ray Coniff and Connie Francis, and was subsequently covered by a long list of recording artists (including Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Wayne Newton, and Jim Nabors).  

Here's "Lara's Theme":

Click below to buy a DVD of Dr. Zhivago from Amazon.  (Any guy who has the least bit of game should be able to use it to good advantage on Valentine's Day.)

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