Doctor Zhivago (1965, David Lean; Cinematographer: Freddie Young)
Spoiler - Anyone doubting that Freddie Young is the cinematographer to completely embody David Lean’s epic visions need only look to the fact that for each of their three collaborations is a best cinematography Academy Award win. Doctor Zhivago is a thing of beauty, an old guard film in the middle of the turbulent cinematic landscape of the sixties. High romance, a classic sweeping score, and Young’s lush cinematography, filled with striking reds, mesh perfectly together to create an awe-inspiring motion picture (because that’s what you call movies like this) that never feels as long as it actually is.
This shot, which occurs directly before the intermission is one of the great film twists. Pasha, played by Tom Courtenay, the young communist idealist who was assumed dead, is revealed to be alive. Furthermore, he’s transformed into feared tyrant, Strelnikov, whose brutality has become notorious throughout the Soviet Union. Young captures it all in a powerful closeup in which Pasha is flanked by the blood red communist flag, snow whipping at his unflinching face, but it is Courtenay who makes the shot. His second act Pasha, with cold eyes staring out at the landscape, is nothing like the eager youth of Zhivago’s beginning. He, like the revolution itself, has transformed into something terrifying, his scarred human face only a mask for the political machinations of the new regime.