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Tuesday May 28th 2024

Doctor Zhivago | 1965

Doctor Zhivago film location: Aldeadávila Dam, Spain
Doctor Zhivago film location: the ‘Russian’ hydroelectric dam that bookends the story: Aldeadávila Dam, Spain | Photograph: wikimedia / Raiden32

Despite the endless ‘Russian’ snowscapes, most of David Lean’s epic but chocolate-boxy romance, based on Boris Pasternak’s novel, was shot in sweltering heat in Spain, with the major sets – including a huge outdoor section of ‘Moscow’ – constructed in Canillas, a suburb of Madrid.

The icy cottage, with its dinky icicles and plaster snow, was built in the mountainous region 100 miles northeast of Madrid at Soria, where more scenes were filmed around Candilichera.

Other Spanish locations included Granada; Guadalajara; Aljalvir and Aranjuez.

The railway scenes were filmed in Finland, on the track laid during the 1940 Russian invasion, at the town of Joensuu, in eastern Finland, 100 miles from the real Russian border. The refugees’ trek was also filmed here, at Lake Pyhäselkä.

There was even a little second unit filming in the Canadian Rockies, providing more mountain views for the train scenes.

The giant hydroelectric dam, which bookends the story, is Aldeadávila Dam, a concrete arch-gravity dam on the Douro River, about 55 miles west of Salamanca, on the border between Spain and Portugal.