The movie was based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Boris Pasternak. It was published in the United States but banned in Russia due to its independent-minded stance on the Russian Revolution and subsequent Soviet government. The novel became a cause celebre, and Pasternak was labeled a traitor to the regime. He ultimately declined the 1958 Nobel Prize for Literature, and his work remained a symbol of resistance to the Soviet government throughout the Cold War.
What happens to yuri zhivago's wife tanya is one of the most poignant and tragic moments in the film. Tonya is a beautiful woman with a talent for music. She and her mother both have a connection with the land, and their family estate is confiscated by the Soviet government. Tonya and Yuri become close, and she encourages him to pursue his musical career.
When Yuri is called away, she leaves behind her life of luxury and moves into his old dacha with him. When she finds out that Komarovsky, her mother's lover and political fixer, is in love with Lara, she tries to commit suicide. Yuri intervenes, and the two become closer together.
As World War I breaks out, Yuri and Lara serve as doctors at the front. The two spend months apart, and they miss each other terribly. Then Yuri sees Lara riding on a train. He tries to catch up with her, but the strain is too much for his weak heart, and he dies in an attempt to re-unite himself with his wife.