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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 <email@example.com>
Philip Kaufman cast Daniel Day-Lewis after watching glimpses of the actor in a movie showed on TV, which he couldn't remember the name, but he remembered the actor's name and performance and decided he was perfect for the role of Tomas. See more »
When Tereza goes on her first photo foray into downtown Prague the soundtrack features a woman singing a Czech version of "Hey Jude," the original Beatle version of which was not released until August 26,1968 - the week after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. See more »
First Title Card:
In Prague, in 1968, there lived a young doctor named Tomas...
Take off your clothes.
[line recurs several times during film]
See more »
Personal meaning in love, in expression, and between ordinary people
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
I liked this book a lot, and I like director Philip Kaufman's approach to movies. The best of this movie is terrific, as well: the wild culture of personal and cultural freedom at the start, the chilling invasion of Soviet tanks in the center, and the last half hour of idealized romance and happiness in the country.
That kind of gives away the movie, it would seem. But in a way, the movie is about how all these things happen. This is where it gets to be about taste and patience. It's a long movie, and much of the events are not really a development of plot, but a steady continuation of a variety of relationships (mainly between the lead man and the two main women). There is a plot behind all this, especially around their leaving Czechoslovakia and then finding a return to bliss in the Czech countryside, but this doesn't drive the movie overall.
For me, it wasn't enough to see these people enjoying sex and discovering conflicts between the three legs of the love triangle. Scenes were often leisurely in a way that implies we were glad to just be there and watch things happen within a pocket of frozen time, rather than through time. By that I mean, it wasn't where you were going with the emotional aspects, but it was where you were, the now of the interactions. The might actually be where the book was so successful--it created moods and scenes where you were, actually, glad to just be absorbed. For me, that wasn't always the case in the film version.
Part of the problem might just be Daniel Day Lewis, who is a bit too self-satisfied, not as a character (that is certain) but as an actor. He lacks the magnetism that might sustain the unlikely and ongoing love the two women have for him, even as they know about each other. On the other hand, it's a huge, epic tale about true freedom, and a very real pursuit of happiness. And when the energy gets going, and the mood is fully expanded, there is magic. Especially, again, at the end, including the famous fade to white in the last frames, it is about a kind of heaven on earth. Who can object to that?
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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