TV remake of Pasternak's Dr Zhivago to be filmed in Czech Republic

The new TV remake of Boris Pasternak's Dr. Zhivago - expected to be aired on the British ITV 1 channel at the end of the year - is to be filmed in the Czech Republic. Dita Asiedu has more:

The producers of the new adaptation of Boris Pasternak's worldwide bestseller - a love story based in Russia and set against the backdrop of the Bolshevik revolution - have chosen the Moravian town of Olomouc to serve as the main location for filming. Hugh Warren is a producer of the new adaptation and told Radio Prague why the Czech Republic was chosen:

"One reason, obviously, is money. It's comparatively cheaper to film here than it is in Hollywood or in London. But also, there are very good technicians here, very good experienced crew and fantastic locations, a fantastic landscape, great variety, so it offers an awful lot to a film production at a very competitive price. Our experience is that all the Czech companies here and the Czech people that we are working with are incredibly professional and very supportive. So, it's a very easy and comfortable place to work."

The film's producers have chosen Olomouc mainly because its centre resembles the wide open streets of Moscow. Some 800 extras, most of them recruited locally, are to re-enact one of Moscow's largest public protests on the town's Svobodna Trida - or Liberty Avenue.

"It's a very quiet town, which is very helpful for us and has a great variety of locations there and a lot of very useful interiors and we feel that we can create scenes that are happening in the book in Moscow more easily there than we can in Prague, for example."

With David Lean having cast Omar Sharif and Julie Christie in the leading roles in the original 1965 Hollywood production, there is much scepticism as to whether suitable replacements could be found. The new adaptation, written by Andrew Davies, is expected to differ greatly from the Hollywood production. Its leading actors, 26 year-old Hans Matheson and 16 year-old Keira Knightly are relatively little known, although the Australian star Sam Neil has been penciled in as Komorovsky.

"Andrew Davies' adaptation is in fact far more true to the book and we are doing a much closer adaptation of the book. We are also casting the two leads for Yuri and Lara far younger because Lara is in school at the beginning of the book where I think in the David Lean film you had a sense that they were older. The adaptation that Andrew has written is more contemporary, I suppose. There are elements in the book that the David Lean film kind of glossed over slightly, for example, Lara's mother Amalia effectively prostitutes her. She almost acts like a pimp and pushes her to Komorovsky, which Andrew is being much more true to the book about."