Julie, Sebastian and Zhivago
Sebastian Rosacker has a passion for David Lean's "Doctor Zhivago", which he has seen at least 200 times. On the occasion the Danish digital 4K re-release, I caught him in Imperial Bio's foyer for a quick talk about his life-long interest in this film. The day was unique, as it was also Julie Christie's 75th birthday.
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|Interviewed and photographed by: Thomas Hauerslev. Imperial Bio's foyer, Copenhagen, Denmark 14. April 2016.||Date: 16.04.2016|
|Sebastian Rosacker at the Imperial Bio, Copenhagen 14. April 2016 on the occasion of the Danish re-release of "Doctor Zhivago" in 4K.|
Thomas: Tell me a little bit about your back ground
Sebastian: I was born on April 28, 1953 in Helsingborg, close to Denmark. I have been an opera singer, and I mainly worked at the opera in Malmö but also at Fredriksdalsteatern in Helsingborg, with Nils Poppe, and at the Opera in Gothenburg. Last summer I did a concert with excerpts from Die Walküre by Richard Wagner in Birgit Nilsson's church in Västra Karup, Sweden. I was lucky to sing the part of Wotan together with great singers like Iréne Theorin (Brünnhilde), Gitta-Maria Sjöberg (Sieglinde), Anette Bod (Fricka) and Visti Hald (Siegmund), accompanied by Bo Ericsson and Ulrich Stærk. I am retired, but still sing occasionally and work as a projectionist at the Kino theater in Lund, Sweden. I enjoy both my work and my freedom very much.
THa: When did you first see "Doctor Zhivago"?
SR: That was in February 1968*), at the Royal Theatre in Malmö, and the second time in May at the same place. I saw it twice at the Royal, and then I saw it 4 times at the Palladium in Helsingborg. **).
THa: How many times have you seen "Doctor Zhivago"?
SR: I usually say about 200 times, but I have no idea. Many times at home, in my home theatre as well.
THa: What is it that appeals to you about "Doctor Zhivago"?
SR: It has everything. Best photo, best film, best actors and actresses, best music, you name it. It has everything. But it is the Zhivago character I like the most. He is a man not seeking revenge. How bad the situation ever is, no revenge. That is big. That is what appeals to me because that is the future, I believe. I don’t think we will have wars in the far future even if it doesn’t look like that right now. Zhivago is, to me, a man of the future. I have read the book, and this is the theme in the book. In the novel by Boris Pasternak Yuri says to Lara: "I don't think I could love you so much, if you had nothing to complain of and nothing to regret. I do not like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and of little value. Life hasn't revealed its beauty to them". Strong, wonderful and, to me, true words.
THa: Why do you see it 200 times? Do you see new things?
SR: Maybe less and less, but still, I focus on different things on the set and everything. Like today, I noticed Julie Christie's knitted gloves, and there were holes in them, and I had not seen that before, as an example [laughs]. What art do they have on the walls in the different homes. I look for different things, and I find different things. It actually took me quite a while to find David Lean in it. Even if I knew where he is supposed to be seen in the film I didn't discover him until I had seen it several times.
THa: Why is "Zhivago" special to you compared to other films?
SR: I guess it has to do first of all with this Zhivago figure who doesn't look for revenge, and then op top of that, all the fantastic actors, with Julie Christie as the real lead. I mean, she is so good, and she is so beautiful. Al Pacino is so right when he calls her ”The most poetic of all actresses”.
THa: She is in other movies as well
SR: Yes, and I know she doesn’t even like this film, but I love her in it [laughs]
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Pictures: "Doctor Zhivago" in 70mm: The Gallery
Classics at the Royal
Facts For Editorial Reference About The Making Of Doctor Zhivago
The Latest Word From METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER on DAVID LEAN’S Film of DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. From The Novel By Boris Pasternak
|Sebastian Rosacker outside the Imperial Bio, 14. April 2016|
THa: Are there any other films like Zhivago that you enjoy to see
SR: Of course, "Far From the Madding Crowd", "The Go-Between", "Afterglow", "Finding Neverland", "Hamlet" and "Darling" of course. There are more films with her I like. I think I have almost all her films, which are release on DVD and Blu-ray.
THa: What is your most priced "Doctor Zhivago" collectible?
SR: I think it is the British poster actually, and not the common one. They have two British posters. Zhivago, Tonya and Lara in the middle, there are no horses in between. It is blue and you see big streets behind them. It's hand painted, and I think that is the one I cherish the most.
THa: How do you come across these things?
SR: eBay and other places. I have posters from many many countries. Denmark, Germany, Australia, several from America, two from England, Italy, France, Argentina, Japan and more, Sweden of course. Lobby cards from Sweden, USA, Mexico and Spain. Programmes and lots of photo’s.
THa: Is that something you look for when you travel?
SR: I have done, yes, but I have so much now. But, of course, I keep my eyes open.
THa: Did the screening today live up to expectations?
SR: Mostly, yes. It was fantastic. It looked really, really good on the screen. Unfortunately, they have butchered the Overture. It was the same in London, so it is probably this release. The first two drumbeats in the Overture are gone. They are not there. I do not know, someone butchered the Overture. That disturbs me quite a lot. I do not think the composer [Maurice Jarre] would like that very much. But otherwise it was great, it looked fantastic. I was very happy to see it, and I might come again before it is over here [at the Imperial]. Because it is wonderful to see it on a big screen like this.
THa: Does the big screen improve the film for you?
THa: Why do you think that is?
SR: You see more details, and ”Doctor Zhivago" is so full of details. Not only what you watch, but also what you can observe in between the lines, what they say, how they react, their relationships. I see ”Doctor Zhivago" as sort of an egg completely full of information. It is definitely not an empty egg. If you can compare a film like that with an egg.
|Sebastian Rosacker outside the Imperial Bio, 14. April 2016|
THa: I know you have met Mrs Christie, what did she tell you?
SR: She kissed me on both cheeks (I haven’t washed my face since that day), and thanked me for the little gift I brought her. I invited her to my "Doctor Zhivago" -screening at the Royal. She sent me a nice post card telling that she unfortunately couldn't come. She seems to be a very nice lady.
THa: ...and she doesn’t like "Zhivago"....
SR: Well, she didn't tell me that, but I read it in a book about her. I will never forgive her for that. Well, maybe I will.
THa: How did you feel about meeting Mrs. Christie?
SR: You know how you feel when you are in love. I was shy and I trembled! [Laughs]. I was very, very happy. It was thanks to Mark and Margaret, our friends in London. I got an e-mail from them with the title: Now it can be told: We have a ticket for you to the pre-premiere of Julie Christie’s new film "Away from Her", and she will be there for Q&A's. So we met her after the film, and I was in heaven [laughs]. Just look into her eyes...when you see a film with her, she doesn’t need to say her lines. The expression in her eyes.....
THa: Did you sleep well that night?
SR: No. Well, maybe a little and I dreamed about her.
THa: Tell me about the Royal [in Malmö] and your work with that, because that started with "Doctor Zhivago", I seem to recall.
SR: It did. It was for my 45th birthday. Before it all started I was thinking, "When I turn 50, I want to see "Doctor Zhivago" at the Royal". A friend said "Forget it, they will close the Royal soon". So I instantly got in touch with them, and they liked the idea, so they arranged it with me. 531 happy people where there for the occasion and they wanted more. SF Bio, Malmö, wanted to do one screening a month but we decided to do it every second month instead. It was a very happy period of my life.
THa: How many times did you run "Zhivago" at the Royal?
SR: Twice. On my 45th and my 55th birthday ***).
THa: Did the audience appreciate to see "Zhivago"?
SR: Yes, but of course some people thought it was a little too long, but most of them, 99,99%, loved it, and they said "it was wonderful to see it on a big screen again, instead of on the TV", you know.
|Sebastian on the 1. February 2009, in front of his "Doctor Zhivago" display case in Malmø, Sweden |
THa: What kind of reactions do you get from people when they find out you are such a fan of this film?
SR: They are usually very nice and understanding but I don't think they dare to say what they really think [laughs]
THa: Is there a "Doctor Zhivago" community?
SR: I don't know. There is a "Mad World" community, but I don't think there is a "Doctor Zhivago" community. Maybe I should start one on Facebook? You have given me an idea. That could be interesting.
THa: Did you visit some of the film locations?
SR: No, unfortunately not. I have heard about the place in Finland, and the place outside Madrid as well, but I have never been there. That would be nice one day.
THa: Any last thoughts?
SR: I think it is interesting they did not dare to show it in Russia until 1994. I was in Russia long before that, we were of course only allowed certain places, and we were in a restaurant that played the music from "Zhivago" [laugh].
THa: Is it the last time you have seen "Doctor Zhivago" today?
SR: Yes, I’ve had enough now! Ha ha, are you kidding? I’ll continue to watch it at least once a year.
*) 10/2 1968 and 11/5 1968.
**) Four times in 7OMM at the Palladium in Helsingborg: 22/7 (premiere), 14/9, 6/10 and 20/10 (last performance).
***) 26/4 1998 and 5/4 2008.
Sebastian, Classics and The Royal
Interview With Projectionist Hans Braman, Royal, Malmø, Sweden
70mm Cinema Profile The Royal, Malmö
Classics at the Royal. The largest screen in Sweden
"My Fair Lady" at the Royal. The largest screen in Sweden
"Doctor Zhivago" at the Royal. Free screening on the largest screen in Sweden
"Doctor Zhivago" in 70mm: The Gallery
This was a thrill
Swedish Screening in Todd-AO: "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines...", 16. March 2013
Sebastian and the 70mm Film
A Magnificent Todd-AO Day in Sweden
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