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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  5 February 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 25,299 users  
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In 1968, a Czech doctor with an active sex life meets a woman who wants monogamy, and then the Soviet invasion further disrupts their lives.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
The Ambassador
Pavel Landovský ...
Chief Surgeon
Interior Ministry Official
The Engineer
Tomasz Borkowy ...
Jiri (as Tomek Bork)
Bruce Myers ...
Czech Editor
Pavel Slabý ...
Pavel's Nephew
Pascale Kalensky ...
Nurse Katja
Jacques Ciron ...
Swiss Restaurant Manager
Anne Lonnberg ...
Swiss Photographer


Tomas is a doctor and a lady-killer in 1960s Czechoslovakia, an apolitical man who is struck with love for the bookish country girl Tereza; his more sophisticated sometime lover Sabina eventually accepts their relationship and the two women form an electric friendship. The three are caught up in the events of the Prague Spring (1968), until the Soviet tanks crush the non-violent rebels; their illusions are shattered and their lives change forever. Written by Dan Hartung <dhartung@mcs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Lovers Story.


Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

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Official Sites:



Release Date:

5 February 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La insoportable levedad del ser  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$17,000,000 (estimated)


$10,006,806 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Milos Forman personally offered to Philip Kaufman the opportunity to direct the movie after hearing that studios were interested in making a film adaptation of Milan Kundera's successful novel. Forman had to pass the chance to direct it himself because he had family in Czechoslovakia and he feared for them in case of a possible negative reaction from the Soviet government, who were occupying the country at the time. See more »


The positions of the men playing chess in the pool changes several times. See more »


[first lines]
First Title Card: In Prague, in 1968, there lived a young doctor named Tomas...
Tomas: Take off your clothes.
[line recurs several times during film]
See more »


Referenced in Sex at 24 Frames Per Second (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

emphasis on the 'unbearable'
30 October 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

yeah cheap shot i know, but this movie is a great example of how a collection of signifiers of 'deepness' (political turmoil, love/lust) can be combined haphazardly to great critical acclaim (see also 'american beauty'). kaufman's movie plods along with gratuitous sex scenes interspersed with often painful dialog sequences (in one scene i counted three different 'generic European' accents affected by the actors) and displays of state might run amok, yet fails to tie them together into the coherent meditation kundera offered. and in its over-long three hours it manages almost completely to gloss over franz,the missing fourth piece in the love triangle that lies at the heart of the plot, and in this manner sacrifices the novel's central mechanism of displaying the spectrum of emotions and of power relations that obtain in love affairs. it also fails to even include token screen time for tomas' son, used in the novel to exemplify some of the political points kundera was making in the novel. combined with the overweening soundtrack, these flaws make this movie's three hours unbearably weighty in tone yet light in content.

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Awful, bad, horrible movie. schtrunfe
I've heard DDL say... chizdippler
ONCE AGAIN: the ending - plothole? wim_mols
Judging the movie on its own merit... sabika-angelz
Kundera's thoughts? JellybeanJack
READ THE BOOK! chelsea_104
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