IMDb > The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
7.4/10   22,096 votes »
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Director:
Writers (WGA):
Milan Kundera (novel)
Jean-Claude Carrière (screenplay) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Unbearable Lightness of Being on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
5 February 1988 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
A Lovers Story.
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 6 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Utterly romantic See more (126 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Daniel Day-Lewis ... Tomas

Juliette Binoche ... Tereza

Lena Olin ... Sabina

Derek de Lint ... Franz

Erland Josephson ... The Ambassador
Pavel Landovský ... Pavel

Donald Moffat ... Chief Surgeon

Daniel Olbrychski ... Interior Ministry Official

Stellan Skarsgård ... 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
László Szabó ... Russian Interrogator
Vladimír Valenta ... Mayor

Clovis Cornillac ... Boy in Bar
Leon Lissek ... Bold Man in Bar
Consuelo De Haviland ... Tall Brunette
Jacqueline Abraham-Vernier
Judith Atwell
Claudine Berg
Jean-Claude Bouillon (as Jean-Claude Bouillion)
Miroslaw Beuer
Niven Busch
Margot Capelier
Victor Chelkoff
Monica Constandache
Jean-Claude Dauphin
Dominique De Moncutt
Bernard Lepinaux
Josiane Lévêque
Peter Majer
Charles Millot
Gérard Moulévrier
Jan Nemec
Charly Oleg
Sylvie Plantard
Olga Baïdar-Poliakoff
Christine Potter
Hana Maria Pravda
Romano
André Sanfratello
Jirí Stanislav
Milos Szoboda
Helenka Vernier
Marrian Walters
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Philip Kaufman ... Man walking on street outside Sabina's flat (uncredited)
Isabelle Noérie ... Student (uncredited)
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Directed by
Philip Kaufman 
 
Writing credits
(WGA)
Milan Kundera (novel)

Jean-Claude Carrière (screenplay) &
Philip Kaufman (screenplay)

Produced by
Bertil Ohlsson .... executive producer
Paul Zaentz .... associate producer
Saul Zaentz .... producer
 
Original Music by
Mark Adler 
 
Cinematography by
Sven Nykvist 
 
Film Editing by
Vivien Hillgrove Gilliam  (as Vivien Hillgrove)
Michael Magill 
Walter Murch 
B.J. Sears (co-editor)
 
Production Design by
Pierre Guffroy 
 
Costume Design by
Ann Roth 
 
Makeup Department
Suzanne Benoit .... key makeup artist
Rosalina Da Silva .... makeup artist: Lena Olin
 
Production Management
Daniel Baschieri .... assistant unit manager
Frank Simeone .... unit production manager: USA unit
Daniel Szuster .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Eric Bartonio .... first assistant director
Simon Brook .... assistant director
Robert Kechichian .... second assistant director
Charles Paviot .... first assistant director
 
Art Department
Jean-Michel Ducourty .... second assistant art director
Michael G. Ploog .... storyboard artist
Jean-Yves Rabier .... carpenter
 
Sound Department
David Franklin Bergad .... sound editor
Mark Berger .... supervising re-recording mixer
Jean-Marie Blondel .... sound assistant
Todd Boekelheide .... sound re-recording mixer
Luis Colina .... sound effects editor
Ernie Fosselius .... foley editor
Ruth Hasty .... apprentice sound editor
Pat Jackson .... sound effects editor
Ann Kroeber .... sound effects
Barbara McBane .... dialogue editor
Christopher Newman .... production sound mixer
David Parker .... sound re-recording mixer
Philip Rogers .... sound recordist
Karen Spangenberg .... dialog editor
Alan Splet .... sound designer
Dianna Stirpe .... sound apprentice
Ewa Sztompke .... sound effects assistant
Gwendolyn Yates Whittle .... assistant dialogue editor
 
Special Effects by
Jozef Ort-Snep .... trick photography
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Phil Bray .... still photographer
Richard Brodet .... best boy electric
Philippe Houdart .... camera operator
George Michael Pantages .... gaffer: US production crew (as Michael Pantages)
 
Casting Department
Marie-Sylvie Caillierez .... extras casting
Patricia de Oliveira .... casting: US production crew
Sarah C. Koeppe .... casting associate
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Donna Maloney .... wardrobe
 
Editorial Department
Donah Bassett .... negative cutter
Jack Garsha .... color timer
Robert Grahamjones .... assistant editor
 
Music Department
Mark Adler .... music arranger
Ernie Fosselius .... music arranger: Gevena production crew
Leos Janácek .... music: selected works from
Alan Splet .... music selection: Janacek's works
Jeffery Stephens .... assistant music editor
 
Other crew
Patrick Boshart .... location scout
Kent Brown .... production assistant
Peter Kaufman .... assistant to the director
Walter Slater Murch .... production assistant
 

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies
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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
171 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Argentina:16 | Australia:M | Canada:R (Nova Scotia/Ontario) (original rating) | Canada:13+ (Quebec) | Canada:R (Manitoba) (2005) | Canada:18 (Nova Scotia) (re-rating) (2005) | Canada:PG (Ontario) (re-rating) (2005) | Finland:K-16 | Hong Kong:III | Iceland:14 | New Zealand:M | Peru:14 | Portugal:M/16 | Singapore:R21 | Spain:13 | Sweden:15 | UK:18 | USA:R | West Germany:16
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
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 »
Goofs:
Continuity: When Tereza is challenged in the bar by the drunken youth, the bottle of Orange disappears and then reappears.See more »
Quotes:
[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 »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
74 out of 98 people found the following review useful.
Utterly romantic, 17 February 2006
Author: francois chevallier (francheval@noos.fr) from Paris, France

Romanticism originally doesn't mean romance. The 19th century romantic hero was always a doomed one. The romantic characters long for something larger than life. The frailness, lightness of things is unbearable to those sensitive beings. This is why romantic stories typically end with the death of their heroes. Romanticism is the opposite of Hollywood, as there is no happy end. The epitome of a romantic story is for example "Romeo and Juliet", where death is preferred to an impossible love story.

Because such intense feelings are a threat, some people try to escape them by taking nothing seriously. For example, Tomas (Daniel Day Lewis), a young surgeon living in Prague in the late sixties. He is a perfect womanizer, but he never sleeps together with any woman, because he instinctively refuses any attachment. Such is also sensuous Sabina (Lena Olin), his favorite mistress and best friend, whose utmost erotic weapon happens to be... a bowler hat.

When Tomas is called for an operation at a small country spa, he seduces a young ingenuous waitress named Tereza (Juliette Binoche), but is not aware that she does not take things as lightly as he does. Bored to death with her provincial life, Tereza longs for something larger than life. She is vulnerable, sentimental, attaching. When she shows up by surprise at Tomas's apartment in Prague one evening, he lets her stay. He is trapped.

Neither of them suspects that they are living an intense moment in a crucial place. This is Prague, Czechoslovakia, the Eastern Block. But the winds of change are blowing in general enthusiasm, and Czechs believe that they are about to create " socialism with a human face". Encouraged by Sabina, Tereza becomes a photographer, and captures on film all the small daily life scenes, the beauty and uniqueness of every moment.

Tereza's caring love can't stop Tomas having affairs with "other women", much to her disarray. As she finally can't take it anymore, she decides to leave. But as she steps out on the dark streets, it sounds like an earthquake is coming. The Soviet tanks are entering the city. The reconstitution of Prague's invasion in this movie is extraordinarily intense, even more so as clips of the real events are included in the footage. Those few moments alone are strong enough to make this long movie worth seeing.

Tomas, Tereza and Sabina exile themselves to Geneva. Sabina has an affair with a married Swiss man, who "doesn't like bowler hats". As he eventually decides to leave his wife for her, she is very shaken, but she disappears. No attachment. It's lonely to be free. As for Tomas, Switzerland can't stop him either playing Casanova. Tereza still can't stand it, and she suddenly goes back to "the land of the weak". But I said it, Tomas is trapped. He can't live without her. He can't help following her back to Prague, although it's clear there is no future for them there anymore.

The story is an adaptation of a novel by much praised Czech novelist Milan Kundera, and it is one of those cases when the movie is more intense than the book. Whereas the movie is highly emotional, the book's tone is dry, cold, almost clinical.

Made by American director Philip Kaufman, this picture is European in every way. It captures perfectly well the "old world" nostalgic atmosphere of Czechoslovakia. The music score by Czech classical composers is gripping, sometimes melancholic, sometimes frantic. The lead actors are giving their all, and this film is certainly among their best performances for all three. The supporting cast also has some big European names in it (Erland Josephson, Daniel Olbrychski, Stellan Skarsgård). Cheerful performance by Czech actor Pavel Landovsky, who personally lived the Prague events. Here, he appears as a jolly and solid peasant with a pet pig called Mephisto, who follows him just everywhere, even at wedding parties!

Tomas and Tereza's pet is a she-dog called Karenin. She is the symbol of their love. They adopt her at the beginning of their relationship, take her together to Geneva, but as she escapes, Tereza takes her along back to Prague. As Karenin gets ill in the end, they make her a lethal injection so that she doesn't suffer. Pretty much what will happen to them too.

And well, I never knew bowler hats could be so erotic!

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Where in California was Sabina? (beach scene) sweetloum
ONCE AGAIN: the ending - plothole? wim_mols
Judging the movie on its own merit... sabika-angelz
Lena Olin was robbed. Network1976
Kundera's thoughts? JellybeanJack
Soviet Invasion Footage LAH-2
See more »

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