The Revenant v. Dr. Zhivago: Frozen Mustache-Off!

Watching a hirsute Leonardo DiCaprio (as frontiersman Hugh Glass in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant) defy innumerable odds–including, but not limited to: Indian attack; protracted bear mauling; burial alive; river rapids and waterfall plunge; a sweat-lodge fever; likely food poisoning from raw fish and buffalo liver; a fall from a cliff while galloping on a horse; a night spent inside the aforementioned horse, now gutted; bathing outside in sub-zero windchill; a knife through the hand; a knife through the thigh; numerous other superficial knife wounds; general exposure; and, finally, another encounter with the bloodthirsty Indian war party from the beginning–I couldn’t banish the niggling suspicion that, somewhere, someplace, I’d seen this before. Not the movie, of course, or the story that inspired the movie, a version of which (Man in the Wilderness) was filmed in 1971 and starred Richard “Second-Best Dumbledore” Harris as the down-but-never-out Glass. No, what looked familiar to me was Leo’s bearded, ice-encrusted face:


And then, a couple days later, courtesy The Conflicted Film Snob’s father, himself pretty well-versed in cinema, the answer presented itself: Dr. Yuri Andreyevich Zhivago (Omar Sharif) from David Lean’s 1965 three-hour, 10-minute buttbuster, Dr. Zhivago.


With that mystery solved, my interest naturally shifted to which film made better use of the aforementioned ice-encrusted mustache.

And so, in the tradition of those intellectual exercises known as “fashion throwdowns” featured in such erudite periodicals as US Weekly and People, and using a highly technical rating system developed by top men” exclusively for The Conflicted Film Snob, let us take a moment to compare both protagonists to see “Who Wears It Better?”

Battle 1

Zhivago6 Leo6

  • Nausea factor: 8/10 (Dr. Zhivago) v. 9/10 (The Revenant)
    • Comments: Although Sharif looks like he has barnacles growing off his face and generally makes The Conflicted Film Snob want to vomit just looking at him, note the ice booger under Leo’s right nostril, a truly disturbing sight, made all the more disgusting because it’s probably not makeup.
  • Fakeness quotient: 10/10 (Dr. Zhivago) v. 1/10 (The Revenant)
    • Comments: Considering that much of Zhivago was filmed in-studio or in blazing hot Spain (the magic of movies, eh?), one can almost picture the makeup artist laboriously applying fake ice onto Sharif’s fake beard. Leo, on the other hand? As mentioned above, from what I’ve read of the production, all facial ice was probably real.
  • In extremis scale: 2/10 (Dr. Zhivago) v. 10/10 (The Revenant)
    • Comments: Despite Leo verisimilitudinously freezing his butt off on location, the vomitous frozen mess that is Sharif’s beard grabs a couple points due to the hours he probably had to endure the makeup chair.
  • Totals: 20/30 (Dr. Zhivago) v. 20/30 (The Revenant)
  • Winner: Push

Battle 2

Zhivago3 Leo4

  • Nausea factor: 10/10 (Dr. Zhivago) v. 5/10 (The Revenant)
    • Comments: Sharif looks like a wooly mammoth just unearthed after being buried for 10,000 years. Leo, however, with no ice boogers to speak of, simply looks like a panhandler just given a pint of ice cream but no accompanying spoon.
  • Fakeness quotient: 10/10 (Dr. Zhivago) v. 1/10 (The Revenant)
    • Comments: Sharif’s beard looks like it’s just been sneezed on by a yeti. One wonders if his makeup person applied the fake ice with a trowel. As for Leo, note the above comments regarding the production’s freezing cold outdoor shoot.
  • In extremis scale: 9/10 (Dr. Zhivago) v. 3/10 (The Revenant)
    • Comments: Despite losing a point to that the jaunty smile, I’ve seen dead people who look more comfortable than Sharif as pictured above. Leo, the other hand, looks like he’s just home from a brisk walk in the snowy woods behind his Aspen compound, a steaming cup of cocoa awaiting in the supple hands of his latest super-model girlfriend.
  • Totals: 29/30 (Dr. Zhivago) v. 9/30 (The Revenant)
  • Winner: Dr. Zhivago

Battle 3

Zhivago7 Leo5

  • Nausea factor: 8/10 (Dr. Zhivago) v. 6/10 (The Revenant)
    • Comments: The “goat” portion of Sharif’s beard truly turns the stomach, especially when one ponders just what liquids might’ve caused the ice buildup. Leo, on the other hand, doesn’t look particularly gross, although please note that two extra points are being awarded for his teeth, which, assuming he was playing Glass in a Method-Actor fashion, probably haven’t felt the bracing, minty scratch of a toothbrush in weeks, possibly months.
  • Fakeness quotient: 9/10 (Dr. Zhivago) v. 1/10 (The Revenant)
    • Comments: Sharif’s icy beard looks like someone shoved his whole face into a plateful of butter-creamed cupcakes. As for Leo, note the above comments regarding the production’s freezing cold outdoor shoot.
  • In extremis scale: 8/10 (Dr. Zhivago) v. 10/10 (The Revenant)
    • Comments: Although Sharif looks colder, let’s not forget that Leo is about to ride his steed over a cliff and onto an 80-foot pine. And then he’ll bed down inside the chest cavity of a horse.
  • Totals: 25/30 (Dr. Zhivago) v. 17/30 (The Revenant)
  • Winner: Dr. Zhivago

Overall Champion


Kurt Russell’s glistening facial hair runs away with it playing R.J. MacReady in 1982’s sci-fi shocker The Thing!

the thing kr

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