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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)

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
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
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:





Release Date:

5 February 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La insoportable levedad del ser  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$17,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$202,189, 5 February 1988, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

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 »


Mephisto the Pig, consistently referred to as "he", is a sow, as can be seen frequently, but particularly when the group enters the inn for dancing. 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 Ett litet rött paket: Drömmen om Elin (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

20 December 2003 | by See all my reviews

If you have read the book, the movie is frustrating. If you haven't, it's just a bad movie. The sex scenes are terrible. Tereza looks like a stupid girl. And all the reflections that make the book wonderful are lost and vague in the movie, and just can't be expressed in the dialogs or Tomas thoughts.

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