The Unbearable Lightness of Being (film)

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (film)

Infobox_Film
name = The Unbearable Lightness of Being


caption = Theatrical poster
director = Philip Kaufman
producer = Bertil Ohlsson
Paul Zaentz
Saul Zaentz
writer = Milan Kundera (novel)
Jean-Claude Carrière
Philip Kaufman
starring = Daniel Day-Lewis
Juliette Binoche
Lena Olin
Derek de Lint
Erland Josephson
Pavel Landovský
released = February 5, 1988 (US)
March 2, 1988 (France)
April 1, 1988 (Sweden)
music = Mark Adler
Ernie Fosselius
cinematography = Sven Nykvist
editing = Walter Murch
distributor = Orion Pictures
runtime = 171 minutes
country = USA
language = English
imdb_id = 0096332

"The Unbearable Lightness of Being" is a 1988 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Milan Kundera. Like the novel, it is set in Prague in 1968 and details the lives of artists and intellectuals in Czechoslovakia in the wake of the Prague Spring and the subsequent invasion by the USSR.__TOC__ :::: Tag line: "A lovers story."

Production

The film is a United States production and was directed by an American, Philip Kaufman, but it has a largely European cast, including Daniel Day-Lewis (British), Juliette Binoche (French), Lena Olin (Swedish) and Derek de Lint (Dutch). It was filmed in France rather than Czechoslovakia; in the scenes depicting the Soviet invasion, real archive footage is combined with material shot in Lyon for the film.

Plot

The film begins with exposition on Tomas, a Czech brain surgeon, who lives a carefree life as a lothario. His lover, Sabina, is an artist and is equally carefree. One day, Tomas leaves Prague to conduct a brain operation in a spa town. There, he meets Tereza, a waitress who dreams of escaping her dreary life in the spa town. She follows him back to Prague and moves in with him. This, however, complicates Tomas' sexual escapades with other women.

Tomas asks Sabina to help Tereza get work as a photographer. Tereza experiences a mixture of fascination and jealousy as she realizes that Sabina and Tomas have a sexual connection. Tereza's distress is interrupted by Soviet tanks rolling into Czechoslovakia. In the midst of the confusion that follows, Tereza takes pictures of the Soviet invasion and gives the film to foreigners to smuggle to the West. All three characters flee to Geneva, Switzerland. First Sabina, and after a while Tereza and Tomas.

In Switzerland, Sabina meets Franz, a married university professor, and they begin a love affair. After some time, Franz announces to Sabina that he has left his wife and family. After he makes this declaration, Sabina leaves Franz because she feels he would only weigh her down. Tereza and Tomas attempt to adapt to Switzerland but Tereza discovers that Tomas has continued his sexual liaisons with other women. She leaves him and returns to Czechoslovakia. Tomas is upset by her leaving and decides to follow Tereza back to Czechoslovakia even though his passport is confiscated. Upon his return, Tereza is elated.

Tomas tries to get his old post as a brain surgeon but is stifled by the new Soviet-backed regime regarding an article that he wrote prior to the Soviet invasion in which he compared the Soviets to Oedipus Rex. Tomas wrote in his article that Oedipus plucked out his eyes when he realized his crime but the Soviets have not similarly acknowledged their crimes. The new regime asks him to sign a letter repudiating the article but Tomas refuses. Because of this, he is unable to practice medicine and gets work as a window washer and continues his womanizing.

Tereza gets a job as a waitress and meets an engineer. Because she is once again confronted with evidence of Tomas' infidelity, she decides to have an affair with the engineer. Soon afterwards, she fears that the engineer may be working for the new regime and that she and Tomas may be blackmailed concerning the affair. In desperation she contemplates suicide but is prevented by Tomas.

Tereza convinces Tomas to leave Prague and they go to a rural village where they are welcomed by an old patient of Tomas'. There, they live an idyllic life together as farmers, far away from the political intrigues of Prague. In contrast to them, Sabina has gone to America where she continues to live her single, bohemian lifestyle. In America, Sabina is shocked to receive a letter that tells her that Tereza and Tomas have died in a truck accident while driving back to their village after celebrating with their friends in another town.

The film ends with Tomas and Tereza both in a state of deep happiness as they drive back to their village shortly before their deaths.

Adaptation

Kundera considersfact|date=October 2007 his novels unsuited to being turned into movies; in his opinion, they lose their essential qualities in the process, leaving only the accessory stories to produce any intrigue. However, Kundera served as an active (but uncredited) consultant during the making of the film. In fact, the poem Tomas whispers into Tereza's ear as she is falling asleep was written specifically for the film by Kundera. "Condemned by fate, persecuted by politics", "The Daily Star", 2008-08-30, webpage: [http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=52391 DStar-52391] .]

Reception

The film garnered high praise from critics. The film criticism aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes has "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" rated as 100% "fresh" (positive). "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" at Rotten Tomatoes, 2008, webpage: [http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/unbearable_lightness_of_being/ RTom-Unbearable] .] .It is also listed as one of the top 100 love stories in American Cinema by the American Film Institute [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AFI's_100_Years..._100_Passions "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"] in AFI list.]

Cast

The following are the actors and roles::* Daniel Day-Lewis - Tomas:* Juliette Binoche - Tereza:* Lena Olin - Sabina:* Derek de Lint - Franz:* Erland Josephson - Ambassador:* Pavel Landovský - Pavel:* Donald Moffat - Chief Surgeon:* Tomek Bork - Jiri:* Daniel Olbrychski - Interior Ministry Official:* Stellan Skarsgård - The Engineer:* Bruce Myers - Czech Editor:* Pavel Slaby - Pavel's Nephew:* Pascale Kalensky - Nurse Katja:* Jacques Ciron - Swiss Restaurant Manager:* Anne Lonnberg - Swiss Photographer

Notes

References

* [http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/unbearable_lightness_of_being/ "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"] at Rotten Tomatoes.
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AFI's_100_Years..._100_Passions "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"] in AFI list.

External links

* [http://www.criterion.com/asp/release.asp?id=55&eid=71&section=essay Criterion Collection essay] by Michael Sragow
* [http://film.virtual-history.com/film.php?filmid=7557 Movie Stills] at Virtual History
*


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