Dr. Zhivago

I’ve always been fascinated with human memory.  There are events from my childhood which I remember vividly and some which I have no recollection of at all.  What is it that makes a memory last for a very long time?

Some of these events seem to trivial today yet I remember them well.  For example, I remember a time in junior high school when the teacher told us all to put our heads down because we were noisy.  When I did, I noticed that I could smell my perspiration and knew it was time to start using deodorant.  I remember riding my bicycle past my elementary school and seeing my new sixth grade teacher for the first time.  I remember trading a valuable half-dollar for a lot of coins to add to my collection.  I remember in 8th grade when we were making crossword puzzles that I suggested using Arabia when someone needed a six-letter word ending in “a”.  Not exactly noteworthy things but they remain in my memory.

This evening, I turned on the TV and saw that Dr. Zhivago was on.  There was over an hour left and I decided to watch it.  The movie came out in 1965 and I remember my parents taking me to see it.  I remember that I didn’t understand a lot of it.  I remember that it was very long.  And, I remember wondering who was going to sing “Somewhere My Love” since it was popular on the radio.  Of course, it wasn’t sung in the movie but it was the main theme of the soundtrack.

Although seeing Dr. Zhivago at a young age was not exactly a life-changing experience, I do believe it had an influence on me.  I had just started playing the clarinet and the soundtrack of the movie was amazing to me.  I also developed a fascination with the Russian language and Cyrillic alphabet.  In college, I took 3 semesters of Russian just because I wanted to.  I had already placed out of my foreign language requirement but I took it anyway.  Probably because of Dr. Zhivago.

Just think.  A movie about Russia with an Egyptian leading man and lots of British people had an influence of me. But I must have thought that Russians spoke English with British accents.


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