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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 25,605 users  
Reviews: 132 user | 50 critic

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 »

Parents Guide:



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:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Several Czechs were in consideration to be involved in this film, including director Milos Forman, but very few ultimately ended up working on the film. Allegedly, protecting relatives still in Czechoslovakia from reprisals from the Communist regime was a primary reason. See more »


When Tereza is challenged in the bar by the drunken youth, the bottle of Orange disappears and then reappears. 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 The Unbearable Lightness of Boning (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

Unbearably Beautiful - one of the best films ever made
11 August 2001 | by (Saint Paul, MN) – See all my reviews

One of the most romantic films ever made, it shows the problems of people whose intimacies and personal conflicts are being interrupted by history on the move. I think this film surpasses the novel, which is utterly cynical (although understandably). Even in the last moments of the novel, Teresa is concerned that Tomas is cheating on her. The film also does well by dropping much of Franz's character - he was kind of uninteresting compared to Teresa, Tomas, and Sabina. It also drops such deadweight characters as Teresa's mother, Tomas' son, and Franz's wife. Also, a ton of different coworkers are combined into a few, so that their characters have time to develop. By concentrating on the three central characters, this film blossoms past what the novel ever achieved (although the novel is arguably more historically important). Philip Kaufman and Jean-Claude Carriere also add a couple of beautiful scenes that weren't in the novel, including Tomas' and Teresa's wedding, which is one of the most beautiful scenes in filmdom.

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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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