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The movie starts off with a funeral procession passes, people stop to ask who is being buried. They are told that the coffin belongs to Marya Nikolayevna Zhivago. The coffin is closed, nailed, and lowered into the ground, and as the mourners throw soil onto it, a young boy crawls on top of the mound because he is upset. It does not take the people long to figure out that the boy is the dead woman’s son, covers his face and bursts into sobs. His uncle, Nikolay Nikolayevich Vedenyapin (Kolya), comes to lead him away. It was very cold and the boy, Yura, was awoken by a knocking at his window and when he looks outside he sees nothing but snow. Then he starts worries that his mother will sink deeper and deeper into the ground, and he starts to cry again.
After the passing of his mother, Yura, and his Uncle Kolya and Pavel, the handyman, decide to go visit Duplyanka, an art patron’s estate for the second time. They are going to meet with an old friend Ivan Ivanovich Voskoboynikov, who was a teacher also a writer of textbooks, who lives there. Kolya asks Pavel a question that was on his mind at the time about the land and the situation of the peasants as he reads Voskoboynikov’s manuscript about the land question. Kolya reminds Yura of his mother, so he likes being with him. He also looks forward to seeing Nicky Dudorov, a schoolboy who currently lives at Duplyanka. He goes searching for Nicky while his uncle meets with Ivan, but he finds himself wandering through the gardens and becomes more and more depressed. He prays and calls out to his mother, he becomes unconscious from his emotions. He calls on his uncle and remembers him that he has not prayed for his missing father but decides that his father can wait.
Years later Yury becomes a medical officer in the Red Army and is posted in a small town. It is there he meets Lara, a woman whom he has only seen twice before in his life. Their first encounter is when he visited the house of a woman who tried to kill herself, and he saw Lara, the woman’s daughter, at that time all they did was exchange glances at each other, Komarovsky. Their second encounter was when Lara tried to kill Komarovsky at a party but she instead wounded a prosecutor from the courts. Lara is then married to Pasha, a young soldier who is missing, and she has come west to find him. She had a daughter, Katya, whom she had to decide to leave in her birthplace Yuryatin.
Yury is taken away by Lara, however, he decides to return to his wife and son in Moscow. Yury soon finds out that times are very difficult from before, to the point he is struggling to find food and firewood. Yury decides to take move his family east to Varyniko, where an estate which was once owned by his wife’s grandfather. The journey has its up and downs, they eventually make it to the estate once there they find plenty of food and wood. Yury decides to venture into the nearest city, to make use of the library. There, he is surprised to Lara once more. They started to have an affair that lasts two months when Yury decides to break off contact and confess all to his wife about having an affair. However, on his way there he is captured by the partisan army, which conscripts him as a medical officer and he is told that they will shot him if he tries to run. He is forced to remain with the army until the end of the war between the Tsarist Whites and the Communist Reds. Once the war was done he was released, he soon returns to Yuryatin to find Lara. The two end up spending several months together. All is well until Lara’s former husband, Pasha, became a leader in the Urals but is now wanted so now her and Yury must go into hiding to avoid being killed. Komarovsky returns and bags them to go east with him to avoid being found. Yury’s real family had been exiled to Paris, and he is promised to have the opportunity to join them. Yury ends up tricking Lara into moving away with just her and the little girl Komarovsky, while he remains at Varykino.
Yury returns to Moscow to find work. He starts living with Marina, who is the daughter of a family friend. He and Marina have two children. Yury’s old friends Misha and Nicky tell him that he needs to try and resolve his divided loyalties toward Tonya and Marina. He finds a new job and on his first day walking to work he dies of a heart attack. Lara comes to the funeral, once there she asked Yury’s half-brother who was a lawyer at the time if there was any way for him to track the location of a child that was given away to strangers. Lara stays around for several days and then disappears, it is likely she dies in a concentration camp. A couple Years later, Misha and Nicky are fighting in World War II and encounter a laundry-girl, Tanya, who tells them her life story. They soon concluded that she is the daughter of Lara and Yury.
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