The Unbearable Lightness of Being


2h 53m 1988

Brief Synopsis

During the 1968 Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, a womanizer visiting the West must choose between freedom, or returning to his wife in Soviet-occupied Prague.

Film Details

Also Known As
Unbearable Lightness of Being, Varats olidliga lätthet, insoutenable légèreté de l'être, ondraaglijke lichtheid van het bestaan
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1988
Distribution Company
Orion Pictures
Location
Dijon, France; Geneva, Switzerland; Paris, France; Luxiel, France

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 53m

Synopsis

During the 1968 Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, a womanizer visiting the West must choose between freedom, or returning to his wife in Soviet-occupied Prague.

Crew

Francois Abelanet

Art Assistant

Mark Adler

Original Music

Max Aguilera-hellweg

Photography

Rene Albouze

Property Master

Claude Alboze

Unit Manager

Eurick Allaire

Production Assistant

Richard Allaman

Stand-In

Jean Allou

Carpenter

Bunny Alsup

Assistant

Christian Ameri

Art Assistant

Berj Amir

Apprentice

Agamemnon Andrianos

Production

C J Appel

Adr Editor

Christophe Artus

Video Playback

Judith Atwell

Production Coordinator

Colonel Aubry

Other

Jim Austin

Other

Renaud Barbier

Props

Philippe Barrillet

Electrician

Eric Bartonio

Assistant Director

Donah Bassett

Negative Cutting

Pierre Bec

Video Playback

Jonathan Bendich

Production

Suzanne Benoit

Makeup

Pascale Beraud

Unit Manager Assistant

Vincent Bercholz

Assistant Director

David Bergad

Adr Editor

Mark Berger

Sound

Jean-marie Blondel

Sound

Todd Boekelheide

Sound

Nicole Boris

Dialogue Editor

Robert Boulay

Electrician

Frederic Bounie

Stand-In

Jacques Bourdon

Production Manager

Christopher Boyes

Other

Sophie Brandt

Production

Cathy Brasseur

Stand-In

Daniel Braunschweig

Property Master

Phil Bray

Photography

Patricia Briquet

Stand-In

Karen A Brocco

Assistant

Richard Brodet

Best Boy

Simon Brook

Assistant Director

Rich Brown

Production

Erick Caillet

Rigging Gaffer

Marie-sylvie Caillierez

Casting Associate

Margot Capelier

Casting

Jean-claude Carriere

Screenplay

Phil Carroll

Titles

Vince Casper

Other

Angelica Chemla

Stand-In

Felix Chiapolini

Generator Operator

Claire Childeric

Electrician

Danny Colangelo

Production

Luis Colina

Foley Editor

Jean-francois Cousson

Props

Dianne Crittenden

Casting

Gloria D'alessandro

Assistant

Rosalina Da Silva

Makeup Assistant

Joel David

Gaffer

Monique Deavila Y Riera

Other

Irena Dedicova

Other

Denise Defalco

Accounting Assistant

Michael Dennison

Wardrobe Supervisor

Patricia Deoliveira

Production

Pucci Derossi

Art Department

Jane Dettwiler

Production

Olivia Dick

Production

Katell Djian

Camera Assistant

Jean-michel Ducourty

Art Department

Milan Dusatko

Other

John Edwards-younger

Other

Nancy Eichler

Assistant

Marietta Engelbrecht

Production

Frank Eulner

Sound Effects Editor

Tina Fallani

Sound Effects

Yves Fayt

Grip

Steve Feldman

Other

Sylvia Folgoas

Costumes

Olivier Fontenay

Production

Ernie Fosselius

Music

Ernie Fosselius

Foley Editor

Ernie Fosselius

Music Arranger

Pascal Fouineau

Assistant Director

Suzanne Fox

Assistant Editor

Richard Frazell

Assistant

Jacques Frederix

Unit Manager

Clare Freeman

Assistant

Rob Fruchtman

Foley Editor

Gary Frutkoff

Production

Olivier Gaillet

Caterer

Jean-paul Gaillot

Grip

Gilbert Gallart

Electrician

Margaret Ganahl

Other

Jack Garsha

Color Timer

Vance George

Assistant

Claude Ghene

Costumes

Vivien Hillgrove Gilliam

Editor

Vivien Hillgrove Gilliam

Dialogue Editor

Catherine Gorne

Assistant

Robert Grahamjones

Assistant Editor

Martin Grange

Other

Lionel Grepon

Assistant

Raoul Grob

Consultant

Jacques Grousset

Caterer

Alain Guffroy

Assistant Art Director

Pierre Guffroy

Production Designer

Scott Guitteau

Other

Anne Gyory

Continuity

Stephen Hart

Foley

Ruth Hasty

Foley

Philippe Houdart

Camera Operator

Richard Hymns

Sound Effects Editor

Pat Jackson

Sound Effects Editor

Roland Jacob

Other

Ronald A Jacobs

Dialogue Editor

Gerard James

On-Set Dresser

Leos Janacek

Music

Kevin Jewison

Other

Remy Julienne

Stunt Coordinator

Barbara Kassal

Production

Peter Kaufman

Assistant

Peter Kaufman

Researcher

Philip Kaufman

Screenplay

Therese Kaufmann

Unit Manager Assistant

Robert Kechichian

Assistant Director

Julie Kincannon

Other

Michael Kitchens

Production

Sarah Koeppe

Production Assistant

Sarah Koeppe

Casting Associate

Danny Kopelson

Music

Ann Kroeber

Sound Effects

Milan Kundera

Source Material (From Novel)

Jean Lara

Unit Manager

Paul Leblanc

Hairdresser

Victoria Lewis

Production

Bernard Lieberman

Other

Rene Loubet

Construction Manager

Michael Magill

Assistant Editor

Fenella Maguire

Accounting Assistant

Donna Maloney

Wardrobe Assistant

Anouk Markovits

Assistant Art Director

Robert Marty

Assistant

Barbara Mcbane

Dialogue Editor

Marilyn Mccoppen

Dialogue Editor

Mari Mine-rutka

Assistant Editor

Denis Moncel

Electrician

Gérard Moulévrier

Casting Associate

Jean-claude Mouliere

Unit Manager Assistant

Alan Mukamal

Other

Muriel Murch

Production

Walter Murch

Production

Walter Murch

Executive Editor

Hiro Narita

Production

Pascal Naudin

Electrician

Jan Nemec

Consultant

Chris Newman

Sound

Andre Noel

Animal Trainer

Bernard Noisette

Camera Operator

Tim Noonan

Other

Sven Nykvist

Director Of Photography

Sven Nykvist

Dp/Cinematographer

Bertil Ohlsson

Executive Producer

Dan Olmsted

Other

Javier Orce

Costumes

Joseph Ort-snep

Camera Operator

Michael Pantages

Production

David Parker

Sound

Claude-anne Paureilhe

Unit Manager

Charles Paviot

Assistant Director

Diana Pellegrini

Foley Editor

Alain Pequignot

Grip

Rosa Perez

Hair Assistant

Marc Pinquier

Props

Sylvie Plantard

Other

Francois Plegades

Camera Assistant

Michael Ploog

Storyboard Artist

Corinne Plouidy

Production

Stan Popovic

Production

Stanley Popovic

Producer

Elizabeth Pursey

Dialogue Coach

E Jeane Putnam

Sound Effects Editor

Jamie Putnam

Art Assistant

Albert Rajau

Assistant Art Director

Medal Ramos

Production

Timothy Ranahan

Production

Paula Rendino

Wardrobe

Gerald Richard

Stand-In

Thérèse Ripaud

On-Set Dresser

Michel Rival

Art Department

Georges Robert

Other

Michael Rosen

Foley

Ann Roth

Costume Designer

Stephen Rotter

Editor

Auguste Saince

Grip

Adele Sanders

Production Accountant

B.j. Sears

Editor

Roy Segal

Other

Janou Shammas

Unit Manager

Hesh Shorey

Sound

Film Details

Also Known As
Unbearable Lightness of Being, Varats olidliga lätthet, insoutenable légèreté de l'être, ondraaglijke lichtheid van het bestaan
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1988
Distribution Company
Orion Pictures
Location
Dijon, France; Geneva, Switzerland; Paris, France; Luxiel, France

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 53m

Award Nominations

Best Adapted Screenplay

1988

Best Cinematography

1988

Articles

The Unbearable Lightness of Being on DVD


Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a noted brain surgeon in 1968 Prague, whose "lightness of being" stems from a sexual freedom devoid of emotional commitment. He enjoys no-strings sexual encounters, making it a point never to spend the entire night with a woman, or allow her to stay with him. One of his regulars is Sabina (Lena Olin), an equally free-spirited painter with whom he shares many nights of joyful, unrestrained sex.

But Tomas's life is changed when he is sent to a small country town to perform an operation. Before leaving meets Tereza (Juliette Binoche), and pursues her as he has a hundred other woman, but is unable to bring the encounter to completion because of some poor timing. But Tereza is smitten, and she later follows him to Prague and shows up on his doorstep. When he bids her to take off her clothers, she claims to have a cold, and Tomas offers to examine her, in what turns out to be the most sensual physical on screen, which quickly degenerates into passionate sex. Tereza turns out to be the one woman with whom Tomas breaks his creed: he allows her to stay the night, and ends up marrying her: but does not let that disrupt his meaningless encounters.

Tomas's carefree existence is finally disrupted when Russian tanks arrive to quash the Czechoslovakian uprising. Tereza, a politically active philosopher, goes straight to the heart of the battle, taking dangerous photographs of the invaders which she gives to foreign nationals to smuggle out of the country. And she and Tomas eventually have to flee to Geneva, where they once again meet up with Sabina, and resume their featherweight existence.

When Tereza uncovers Tomas's affairs, she finds her life intolerable: realizing that her very seriousness is a detriment to Tomas's lightness, dragging him down because her life is heavy with her strength of commitment and political awareness, she leaves him and returns to Prague. But without her, Tomas finds life empty, and he follows her: a move that leads to tragedy.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a thought-provoking look at sexuality and politics, drawing some interesting parallels as to whether one's attitude toward sex spills over into one's attitude toward other things. The sex (and there's lots of it), rather than being voyeuristic or overly mannered, is celebratory. The characters laugh during sex from sheer enjoyment of the act, and it isn't until commitment and social awareness enter the picture that that changes: but even with that, the characters (particularly in the late encounter, erotic rather than sexual, between Tereza and Sabina) are still able to put aside their cares for pure carnal pleasure: but they are never again free of the weight of the changing social strata.

The performances are splendid: It would've been easy for an actor to have made Tomas distinctly dislikable given the characters self-centeredness and the choices he makes, but Daniel Day-Lewis manages to make Tomas endearing despite his foibles. Lena Olin is absolutely wonderful as Sabina, and as always, Juliette Binoche shines as Tereza.

The transfer is on a par with the film's original release to DVD. The image has a soft, film-like quality but is still well contrasted, with strong shadow detail. And the audio is also in excellent condition, free of distortion or deterioration.

The new Special Edition DVD includes an audio commentary by Philip Kaufman, Jean-Claude Carriere, Walter Munch, and Lena Olin, as well as a 30 minutes "making of" documentary, as well as the theatrical trailer.

For more information about The Unbearable Lightness of Being, visit Warner Video. To order The Unbearable Lightness of Being, go to TCM Shopping.

by Fred Hunter
The Unbearable Lightness Of Being On Dvd

The Unbearable Lightness of Being on DVD

Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a noted brain surgeon in 1968 Prague, whose "lightness of being" stems from a sexual freedom devoid of emotional commitment. He enjoys no-strings sexual encounters, making it a point never to spend the entire night with a woman, or allow her to stay with him. One of his regulars is Sabina (Lena Olin), an equally free-spirited painter with whom he shares many nights of joyful, unrestrained sex. But Tomas's life is changed when he is sent to a small country town to perform an operation. Before leaving meets Tereza (Juliette Binoche), and pursues her as he has a hundred other woman, but is unable to bring the encounter to completion because of some poor timing. But Tereza is smitten, and she later follows him to Prague and shows up on his doorstep. When he bids her to take off her clothers, she claims to have a cold, and Tomas offers to examine her, in what turns out to be the most sensual physical on screen, which quickly degenerates into passionate sex. Tereza turns out to be the one woman with whom Tomas breaks his creed: he allows her to stay the night, and ends up marrying her: but does not let that disrupt his meaningless encounters. Tomas's carefree existence is finally disrupted when Russian tanks arrive to quash the Czechoslovakian uprising. Tereza, a politically active philosopher, goes straight to the heart of the battle, taking dangerous photographs of the invaders which she gives to foreign nationals to smuggle out of the country. And she and Tomas eventually have to flee to Geneva, where they once again meet up with Sabina, and resume their featherweight existence. When Tereza uncovers Tomas's affairs, she finds her life intolerable: realizing that her very seriousness is a detriment to Tomas's lightness, dragging him down because her life is heavy with her strength of commitment and political awareness, she leaves him and returns to Prague. But without her, Tomas finds life empty, and he follows her: a move that leads to tragedy. The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a thought-provoking look at sexuality and politics, drawing some interesting parallels as to whether one's attitude toward sex spills over into one's attitude toward other things. The sex (and there's lots of it), rather than being voyeuristic or overly mannered, is celebratory. The characters laugh during sex from sheer enjoyment of the act, and it isn't until commitment and social awareness enter the picture that that changes: but even with that, the characters (particularly in the late encounter, erotic rather than sexual, between Tereza and Sabina) are still able to put aside their cares for pure carnal pleasure: but they are never again free of the weight of the changing social strata. The performances are splendid: It would've been easy for an actor to have made Tomas distinctly dislikable given the characters self-centeredness and the choices he makes, but Daniel Day-Lewis manages to make Tomas endearing despite his foibles. Lena Olin is absolutely wonderful as Sabina, and as always, Juliette Binoche shines as Tereza. The transfer is on a par with the film's original release to DVD. The image has a soft, film-like quality but is still well contrasted, with strong shadow detail. And the audio is also in excellent condition, free of distortion or deterioration. The new Special Edition DVD includes an audio commentary by Philip Kaufman, Jean-Claude Carriere, Walter Munch, and Lena Olin, as well as a 30 minutes "making of" documentary, as well as the theatrical trailer. For more information about The Unbearable Lightness of Being, visit Warner Video. To order The Unbearable Lightness of Being, go to TCM Shopping. by Fred Hunter

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Voted Best Picture of the Year (1988) by the National Society of Film Critics.

Released in United States October 2000

Released in United States on Video December 29, 1988

Released in United States Winter February 5, 1988

Re-released in United States on Video March 16, 1994

Began shooting September 15, 1986.

Completed shooting January 1, 1987.

Released in United States Winter February 5, 1988

Re-released in United States on Video March 16, 1994

Released in United States October 2000 (Shown at AFI Fest 2000: The American Film Institute Los Angeles International Film Festival (Philip Kaufman Retrospective) October 19-26, 2000.)

Released in United States on Video December 29, 1988