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Arts: Prepare to weep again as Davies twists Dr Zhivago.

Byline: KAREN PRICE Arts and Media Correspondent

IT was the sentimental old-style Hollywood love story which captivated the hearts of film fans for a generation.

But now a new three-part TV adaptation of Dr Zhivago looks like it will be raunchy as well as romantic, as it is the work of controversial writer Andrew Davies, who is renowned for his sex scenes.

But Davies - who has changed the famous ending of the original Oscar-winning film starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie - says the bedroom scenes will ``bring tears to your eyes'' because they are so tender.

The first episode reveals the initial chemistry between Yuri Zhivago (Hans Matheson) and Lara Guishar (Keira Knightley) and hints at the passion that is to come.

Davies - who recently adapted Neyland-born author Sarah Waters' raunchy book, Tipping the Velvet, for the BBC - said there had already been some controversy surrounding the love scenes in his version of Dr Zhivago. ``I was asked if there were going to be any sex scenes in the story and I said, `Of course there are - this is a love-story and people are going to want to see some love-making. We are not in the 1960s now','' said Cardiff-born Davies.

``It is part of the way of telling the story - yes, we have some love scenes, but we are not trying to be salacious or pornographic.

``In fact, they are very tender and moving and bring tears to your eyes. People will remember what first love feels like. That's what I hope, anyway. '' The scene in which Yuri and Lara first see each other is certainly tender. Lara is standing outside a restaurant peering in through the window when her eyes meet Yuri's. The camera focuses on Lara but Yuri's reflection in the window can be seen merging with the image of her.

The first episode also builds up to the moment when Lara loses her virginity to the ruthless older man Victor Komarovsky (Sam Neill) and her later reflecting on it, but it does not show the couple in bed.

But the scenes of passion between Lara and Yuri will follow in the second and third episodes of the TV drama.

Davies believes the original film - which is based on the book by Boris Pasternak - manages to convincingly combine a love story and politics in the Russian revolution.

``But I thought it could do a better job on the relationships,'' he said.

``It's probably a bit controversial, but I thought we could say more about Lara and Yuri and how they get together.

``I think that if they look at both versions now, people will probably think this version in a lot of ways works better for our time. It's more con emporary. '' In the film, the story ends with Yuri dying of a heart attack after spotting his doomed love Lara from a tram, but Davies will not reveal the couple's fate in his adaptation.

``It works brilliantly, but I don't want to give it away,'' he said.

# The first episode of Dr Zhivago will be screened on ITV1 on November 24.


DOOMED AFFAIR: Keira Knightley and Hans Matheson as the young lovers Lara Guishar and Yuri Zhivago
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 14, 2002
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