7.4/10
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134 user 56 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
3,430 ( 103)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 11 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, 5 February 1988, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$10,006,806
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Saul Zaentz Company See more »
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

Jean-Claude Carrière's original script deviated drastically from the final film version. Philip Kaufman feared it was too "arty" for a commercial audience. Milan Kundera read Carrière's original script after seeing the film and said, "That's how it should be done." See more »

Goofs

While nowadays, many people in the Czech Republic wear wedding bands on the left hand, back in 1968 they would have worn them on their right hand regardless of their political stance. Both of the main characters are shown in the movie to wear their wedding bands on the left hand as they would have in the U.S., not Czechoslovakia. 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 King of the Hill: The Unbearable Blindness of Laying (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Unbearably Beautiful - one of the best films ever made
11 August 2001 | by zetesSee all my reviews

One of the most romantic films ever made, it shows the problems of people whose intimacies and personal conflicts are being interrupted by history on the move. I think this film surpasses the novel, which is utterly cynical (although understandably). Even in the last moments of the novel, Teresa is concerned that Tomas is cheating on her. The film also does well by dropping much of Franz's character - he was kind of uninteresting compared to Teresa, Tomas, and Sabina. It also drops such deadweight characters as Teresa's mother, Tomas' son, and Franz's wife. Also, a ton of different coworkers are combined into a few, so that their characters have time to develop. By concentrating on the three central characters, this film blossoms past what the novel ever achieved (although the novel is arguably more historically important). Philip Kaufman and Jean-Claude Carriere also add a couple of beautiful scenes that weren't in the novel, including Tomas' and Teresa's wedding, which is one of the most beautiful scenes in filmdom.


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