You too, Julie Christie?
You too, Julie Christie?

Along comes an actor now and then who is so spectacular in a particular role that you wish she would just stop there and do no more. To do more would only spoil the image.

So it was with Julie Christie in “Doctor Zhivago,” in which she was so sublime…but then she did more…more movies, and more politics.

The movies, okay. But do we need the politics?

This particular movie buff does not need to know that Julie Christie is part of a movement to boycott Israel. At the moment her beef is about the staging of the upcoming Eurovision. That’s to be in Tel Aviv. She does not want it there and she does not want the BBC coverage of it there, either.

It’s all in a petition affixed with leading UK luminaries, whose names mean nothing around here – but Julie Christie, her we know.

Better to remember her as Boris Pasternak’s Lara.

Think of a painter or photographer who has his subject seated perfectly, perfect for eternity, but then she tilts her head and ruins the moment. Think Julie Christie…doing politics.

Not her finest performance and as for slandering the Jewish people – it is what we expect from lesser talents who use anti-Semitism to launch a second career. Hello Roger Waters.

Mega-stars like Julie Christie ought to be better than that.

Director David Lean chose well. He got what he wanted. Even with his own genius, and the fine script by Robert Bolt, I’d argue that it was Julie Christie’s face that launched the five Oscars.

The story goes that when Sophia Loren was suggested for the role of Lara, he said -- with that face and that figure no one would believe she was ever a virgin.

As she is today, we do not need this latest information. It ruins everything. It even ruins the movie. Can we watch it again with the same eyes?
But of Julie Christie, we were prepared to believe anything – as she was back then.

As she is today, we do not need this latest information. It ruins everything. It even ruins the movie. Can we watch it again with the same eyes?

Can we watch it again with the same Lara? Or rather, the same Julie Christie.

David Lean – and what would he be thinking of it if he were still with us today? We know this; he had a low opinion of actors. He mixed with them but only for the work. For Lean, it was all about the Work. He once scolded the actor Jack Hawkins for being too playful on the set at the filming of “The Bridge on the River Kwai.”

Making Art was serious business and David Lean did it better than most.

After “Lawrence of Arabia,” Lean needed a romance. “Lawrence” was about one man. Movies are about two movie stars.

For “Zhivago,” he found them and made them in Omar Sharif and Julie Christie.

His instructions to Sharif were to do no acting; but to let events be expressed through innocent eyes.

Julie Christie would do the rest. Yes, THOSE eyes.

If only she had stopped there and, according to some critics, if only Lean had stopped with “Lawrence.” Or even “Brief Encounter.”

As written mostly by Robert Bolt, and as directed by David Lean, “Lawrence of Arabia” is a movie not nearly favorable to the Arabs…as to the revolt in the desert against the Turks.

There are several references in there about the Arabs being “a filthy people.” At the same time, Moses is referred to as a “prophet and beloved of G-d.” More – the trek towards Aqaba is likened to the Hebrew Exodus. When a dust storm kicks up, Lawrence/Peter O’Toole, sees it as a pillar of fire that guided the Hebrews.

As the movie is so often misunderstood, so was Lean. The critics at the time had sharp knives for him…and even defeated him.

On “Zhivago,” one critic laughed at a scene in which firewood was being collected from the street, when in fact it was crucial to show that at the Revolution, Russia was out of coal.

On arriving in New York to accept an award, Lean was ambushed by critics who savaged him for his epics, among them, “Zhivago.”

Later he tells an interviewer that from that moment, he stopped making movies…for 14 years.

“You begin to think maybe they’re right. Shakes one’s confidence, you know.”

Too bad Julie Christie never learned just how hurtful unjust criticism can be.

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes regularly for Arutz Sheva.

He is the author of the international book-to-movie bestseller “Indecent Proposal.” His sequel to that sensation is, “Slot Attendant: A novel about a Novelist.” His classic Inside Journalism thriller, “The Bathsheba Deadline,” is being prepared for the movies. Contemporaries have hailed him “The last Hemingway, a writer without peer, and the conscience of us all.” Engelhard is the recipient of the Ben Hecht Award for Literary Excellence. Website: