7.3/10
31,587
134 user 59 critic

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.

Director:

Philip Kaufman

Writers:

Milan Kundera (novel), Jean-Claude Carrière (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
4,059 ( 509)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 Tomasz Borkowy ... Jiri (as Tomek Bork)
Bruce Myers Bruce Myers ... Czech Editor
Pavel Slabý Pavel Slabý ... Pavel's Nephew
Pascale Kalensky Pascale Kalensky ... Nurse Katja
Jacques Ciron Jacques Ciron ... Swiss Restaurant Manager
Anne Lonnberg ... Swiss Photographer
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

A Lovers Story.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 February 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La insoportable levedad del ser See more »

Filming Locations:

Prague, Czech Republic See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$17,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$202,189, 7 February 1988

Gross USA:

$10,006,806

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,006,806
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Milan Kundera served as an active consultant during the making of the film. Kundera wrote the poem that Tomas whispers into Tereza's ear as she is falling asleep specifically for the film. However, in a note to the Czech edition of the book, Kundera remarks that the movie had very little to do with the spirit either of the novel or the characters in it. In the same note Kundera goes on to say that after this experience he no longer allows any adaptations of his work. Many critics have focused on how much of the book was successfully captured, or could be captured, on film: however, some commentators, such as Cattrysse Patrick, have argued that the film must be viewed in a different light, with the book as only one source of inspiration. See more »

Goofs

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 »

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Conan: The Unbearable Lightness of Light Beer (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

"String Quartet N°1 (Kreutzer Sonata)
Composed by Leos Janácek
(1923)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The unbearable length of the film
26 July 2003 | by =G=See all my reviews

"The Unbearable Lightness of Being" tells an old story about a womanizer (Day-Lewis) who has an agreeable relationship with a woman (Olin) who is equally unable to commit beyond casual sex when a woman who equates sex (Binoche) with commitment enters his life, wants to love him and he her, but he is conflicted. The film asks the question can they find happiness together? On the upside, this flick has an excellent cosmopolitan cast, is shot on location, and offers all the usual trimmings. On the downside, the characters are too flat, too laconic, and too enigmatic to create great depth and the film is just plain too long and stuffed with too much inconsequential filler. I watched this film in 1988 and found it quite forgettable which accounts for watching it a second time. Fodder for critics and buffs, the person seeking sheer entertainment should beware. (B)


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