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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 25,615 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?


In 1989, the film was shown in Russia for the first time. Screenings were low-key, and held at midnight. Still, more than three thousand people attended each showing, with another thousand being turned away at the door. Many of the people had seen the Czech invasion footage before from the Soviet point of view - reedited to show the Soviet invaders as the heroes and the Czechs as the rebels. For many Russians, this was the first time they'd seen the point of view from the other side. See more »


After Tomas the window-washer slugs back the wine offered to him by the Communist Party official's wife, the wineglass refills as he sits down on the chair next to the sideboard. 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 Gossip Girl: The Unblairable Lightness of Being (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

Memorable and beautifully done
15 April 1999 | by (Las Vegas, NV) – See all my reviews

I've not read the book this is based on, so have no way to comment on how this movie translates it. But the film itself has stayed in my mind like few others. Yes, it's very long, but the characters are so memorable that the length didn't bother me at all - I loved the time spent in their company. In particular, Juliette Binoche and Lena Olin are each astonishing in their own way. Olin is ferociously sensual and mesmerizing, while Binoche is superlatively sympathetic and sensitive. Two of the best female performances I can remember. By the end of the film I was totally wrapped up in these people's lives. This film is deeply erotic but in an intelligent and adult way that puts most other film's treatment of sex to shame. I thought it was beautifully handled by all concerned, and if I ever want to cry, I only need watch the scenes with the dog and the final scenes, both pulled off superbly.

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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
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READ THE BOOK! chelsea_104
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