The Unbearable Lightness of Being [VHS]
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Product Description

Daniel Day-Lewis stars as Tomas, the happily irresponsible Czech lover of Milan Kundera's novel, which is set in Prague just before and during the Soviet invasion in 1968. Lena Olin and Juliette Binoche are the two vastly different women who occupy his attention and to some extent represent different sides of his values and personality. In any case, the character's decision to flee Russian tanks with one of them--and then return--has profound consequences on his life. Directed by Philip Kaufman, this rich, erotic, fascinating character study with allegorical overtones is a touchstone for many filmgoers. Several key sequences--such as Olin wearing a bowler hat and writhing most attractively--linger in the memory, while Kaufman's assured sense of the story inspires superb performances all around. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews:

  • Unbearably sad film......
    I don't know what Kundera was trying to say in his book, and reading all the reviews others have written I am persuaded we are like the blind (wo)men and the elephant. Each has his or her own interpretation. I didn't like Kundera's book, I found it silly, disjointed, and boastful. Perhaps I could find some meaning in it if I set my mind to the task. I'm pretty good at assigning meaning when there is none. Perhaps the book suffered in translation. Perhaps one had to experience the coffee houses of Prague during the spring to understand.

    Philip Kaufman's film THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING is wonderful and awfully sad. The film is wonderful because of the three main actors: Daniel Day Lewis, Lena Olin, and Juliette Binoche. In THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING DDL plays Tomas a doctor with women on his mind--another character for his diverse vita. BEING is about beautiful young people who seem unfulfilled as human beings until it is too late. I was young and restless once--in the 1960s--and I think it's very hard to be happy when you are young. You suffer from these foolish notion that you can change the world--or you can't. You start revolutions--or you don't. Mostly, you try to figure out what the heck life is about.

    Tomas has frivolous things on his mind. Or does he. After all, procreation is the stuff of survival and he is just the right age to be at the mercy of his survival instincts. Does Tomas think of women too much? Is he a lothario or is he trying to find himself? I think Tomas is Tomas and you either like him or you don't. I don't think he thinks about woman more than any other man his age. If you're a woman, you get involved with Tomas or you don't. He does have a way with women. But, Tomas is not happy--he is a cynic until it is too late.

    Why does Tomas marry? Maybe underneath it all he wants a "regular" life. Or, maybe Tomas wants his cake and he wants to eat it too. Apparently, he wants a wife as he acquires one. And he wants to keep on seeing other women because he does. I am sure most of the men who saw this film and thought it was a very good film did so because they would like to be like Tomas or at least fantasize they are like Tomas. I am sure some of these very intelligent and educated men can find rationalizations for why this is a profound film.

    Actually, I think Philip Kaufman has his tongue in his cheek. HENRY AND JUNE (another of his films) is simply the reverse of THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING. Anais Nin wanted to have her cake and eat it too. She wanted a husband and a full range of sexual experiences with other men (and women). Apparently she did just that. Nin's diaries are much more explict than Kundera's books and good bedtime reading. Nin started a revolution--for women.

    I recommend HENRY AND JUNE. Uma Thurman is wonderful as June and Kevin Spacey also stars in this very funny film, though he is not Henry Miller. TROPIC OF CANCER--now there's a book they ought to ban in Boston....more info

  • Movie that surpasses the book it is based on.
    It is long. It is quiet and full of life and fantastic performances. Movie that stays with you for the rest of your life. One should get some kind of prize for title alone.
    Enjoy....more info
  • Read the novel then watch the film.
    It is unfortunate this film is no longer in print. Set in 1968 Prague, and based on Milan Kundera's best-known novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), this faithful film adaptation (by Jean-Claude Carri¨¨re and Philip Kaufman) tells the captivating story of a womanizing brain surgeon, Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis), who loses his employment because he is critical of Czech Communism (he compared the Soviets to Oedipus Rex). He has had more than 200 lovers in his lifetime, and is determined to live his life unfettered by things like commitment. "Kundera's Quartet" of characters also includes Tomas's photographer wife, Tereza (Juliette Binoche), his painter mistress, Sabina (Lena Olin), and her academic lover, Franz (Derek de Lint). The title of the film refers to Kundera's idea that because we only live once, our lives are insignificant, and our decisions do not matter. Because our decisions do not matter, existence seems to lose its substance or weight, making our being unbearable. Tomas represents this philosophy in the film. He feels that nothing matters, that his life has the lightness of mortality. Conversely, enigmatic Tereza carries with her the weight of the world and is heavily impacted by life. She does not judge Tomas for his infidelities, because she knows that although he sleeps with many women, he loves only her. She is fond of animals, particularly her dog, Karenin, and a pig named Mefisto. Her relationship with Tomas is the center of the film. After meeting her by chance, Tomas gradually begins to understand through his love for Tereza that, because we only live once, everything matters. The inscription on his grave reads, "He wanted the Kingdom of God on Earth." Sabina lives her life in opposition to "kitsch" in any form, whether it is domesticity, unoriginality, mediocrity, or untruth. Her lover, Franz is a Geneva professor who seeks lightness of being through books and academia, which Sabina also considers kitsch. The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a profoundly-moving film, and among my top ten favorite novels of the last 25 years. Day-Lewis, Binoche, and Olin all bring Oscar-worthy performances to the nearly three-hour-long film.

    G. Merritt ...more info
  • The movie follows the greatness of the book!
    "The movie is never as good as the book"- how many times have we read or heard this phrase? True, it is almost impossible to find a movie that resembles so much to the book in every detail and in addition is able to promote and bring the same feelings, ideas and messages. However, in this case the movie follows the greatness of the book and I am finally able to say that. The lines that are drawn in the book which captures different angles of the character's life, are very well interpreted and portrayed in the movie. It is a very long movie, but there is always a reason behind it. It is impossible to understand the message of the book, without capturing every story, analyzing it and break it down into details. I don't know much of Philip Kauffman's career, but I have read the book and I have seen the movie many times, and I can assure you that the movie has achieved it's goal. Daniel Day-Louis is superb because he has portrayed its character-Tomaz so unbelievebly well. Tomaz, the famous and respected neurosurgeoun which is part of the high intellectual class in Prague, ends up becoming a janitor cleaning windows and later on a farmer. This is how light life is, our exsitence as human beings. Is it for love, due to political circumstances at the time or just living reality to the fullest? And realizing how light our life is, we try in any way to make it more meaningful without realizing that it can be so, only if we want it to be so. Juliette Binoche(French) and Lena Olin(Swedish) are incredible and amazing. The characters are terribly hard to interpret, yet they reached the character's uniqueness and gave a great performance. It is a movie on life and how we live it. A great movie with a special European Cinema touch. If you have never seen the movie, please do watch it because you are missing a good lesson on life understanding. I assure you that you will be fulfilled and maybe ready to start reading the book right after watching the movie....more info
  • The best film nobody saw
    The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a masterpiece, the most underrated American film of the past 30 years. Poetic, haunting, subtle, and terribly sad, it says more about the crushing impact of repressive (i.e. communist) regimes than a thousand documanteries or inflammatory speeches could tell. While idealizing the free-wheeling Prague of the late 60's the film also examines the emptiness of such a non-commital lifestyle- the unbearable lightness. If this all sounds very somber, ULOB is also one of the sexiest films you will ever see, and one of the few intelligent studies of sex in cinema. More surprisingly, it is a heartbreaking romance. Like a great novel, ULOB grows on you, and you'll hate to see the characters leave you at the end. Perfectly acted by its then unknown leads, and beautifully photographed, this is a film to grow old with....more info
    Do yourself a favor and read Kundera's book to fully appreciate the nuances of this movie, things like what "lightness" stood for (freedom of self and sexual expression). With such liberties staunchly repressed under the dictat of the former Soviet Union, sexual expression becomes a cry for freedom within itself. The movie is erotic, yes, but it carries a whiff of mischief rather than being purposeless, gratuitous "softporn" as some reviewers lament.

    Daniel Day-Lewis is pretty decent as Tomas, toggling between a brain surgeon and a Lothario. His performance is disciplined and understated as events overtake Tomas's ability to control his destiny. He has an arrangement with Sabina (Lena Olin), a sculptor who also can find no place for love without freedom in her life. Their relationship is based upon friendship and convenience. Their lovemaking is passionate but not empty or cold. If there is love, it is left unspoken.

    Kaufman uses this relationship as the foundation of the movie with most of the dynamic being centered upon the naive country girl (a very fresh and intriguing Juliette Binoche) who rebels against the crushing of the Prague Spring by photographing the brutality.

    The trio escape to Switzerland. Geneva then plays a major role in this film as being emblematic of an alternative freedom; a freedom that feels heavy with responsibility. Maybe, within western democracy, when everybody has a voice, then the individual can no longer be heard. Maybe, if there are no small victories, then there is no true lightness. Their freedom can only be felt within context.

    Finally, Thomas and Tereza return home to a Soviet Prague. Again, via censure, the communists provide the answer.

    Sabina finds a beach side property in California, opting for bland airbrushed seascapes. She lives alone. Her spirit has been quelled by the freedom that surrounds her.

    This is truly a beautiful European film, perhaps not too palatable to Hollywood-tainted tastes. Despite its length (which does tend to drag a little) and its erotic texture, I believe it follows its own moral vein.

    A thought provoking dash of cinema, highly recommended for any connoisseur's collections!...more info

  • A wispy shadow of Kundera's book...
    Making my comparison to Milan Kundera's book, I have to rate this movie fairly low. I don't believe Kaufman was able to capture the essence of Kundera's writing with this film representation. So much of Kundera's writing is internal to the characters, which is difficult (at best) to communicate on screen. Unfortunately, this is the richest part of the experience; I recommend the book, but found the movie decidedly unsatisfying....more info
  • Constipated
    I have no idea how I was talked into watching this movie. I totally believe this was a waste of good film-and a lot of it. A young Daniel Day Lewis with a hipper Fonz impersonation and a whiney Juliette Binoche. Only Lena Olin was worth watching, but not for any depth or anything. This film actually made a communist invasion dull. I absolutely didn't care for this couple. Below par acting, horrible direction, terrible editing, annoying soundtrack and dialogue so bad I think someone should take away the screenwriter's guild card. Don't waste your time on this one....more info
  • As wonderful as the book!!!
    This an absolutely beautiful movie equal to the extraordinary book. Although touted as "sexual" in nature this magnificent film is about life and struggles.Inspiring & uplifting ..a reminder of the truly important things in life....more info
  • Not what I expected..
    Me and a friend had been wanting to see this movie one for the content but also for its art prospective. I can't speak for my friend, but it was not what I expected at all. It is 4 hrs long (on the 2 disc special edition) and none of it is really any good. The movie bring up some points, that are great but other wise I would say this movie is not worth buying. Rent the movie before you consider buying. I wish I had.
    Kev...more info
  • The perfect and complete love story
    This is such movie. This movie began an unwavering appreciation for Juilette Binoche, who plays a simple country girl, that adores the dashing Doctor played by Daniel Day Lewis, but who throughout the movie slowly matures into the stronger and more powerful of the two. It is set in the communist Czeck republic, during the tumuletous 60s, which saw uprisings put down by Soviet tanks and military. The backdrop is perfect for a love story, thier problems as a couple gain perspective next to the prospects going on, they both support the cause, and pay the price of being dissadents, which brings them closer together. It has a completley epic feel. It describes a couple, thier circle, the Country, politics and time perfectly. I don't want to give anything away. It is long, but if you like you will think it ends to soon. It bitter sweet and melencholy, but it is so well written I cannot imagine you wont appreciate it. The characters are more real on film than they ever would be life. I will always love this movie. I highly recommend it....more info
    Prepare to be enlightened. This is what movie making was supposed to be about. The movie and characters draw you in for different reasons and gives you a taste of one of the most sexual (not dirty) movies ever put on screen. Temptation, reality, and real history mixed into one. A movie for the senses for those that enjoy good filmmaking. A top one hundred film of all time. A movie that will add to any movie collection and change your taste in movies forever....more info
  • Difficult Task, but Still a Great Movie
    I've always felt it is a mistake to compare a film adaptation to its literary counterpart. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, as a novel, is hugely significant and wonderful. As a film, it is not necessarily true to the book and that is solely because as a film it is not capable of being true to the book. I would compare making a movie out of Milan Kundera's novel to making a video game out of the Godfather or Pulp Fiction. If that was done we run into issues like forgetting to include the priorities of game play, or simply cashing in on the success of the film. With the Unbearable Lightness of Being, there are inevitably going to be lovers of the book waiting to attack the film, and that has happened. Of course it prioritizes itself efficiently as a cinematic experience, while at the same time it makes for about as good an adaptation of the novel as you can possibly get. It wasn't a filmable story to begin with and even Kundera came forward and said that, but he also consulted the writers of the screenplay. So comparisons between the film and novel are in my opinion pointless but also inescapable. I've already made them myself.

    I'm not going to summarize the whole film for you as that would probably be too long-winded and could potentially spoil the story. I'll introduce the characters, place them in a setting and then say go...and then you can add this to your shopping cart, proceed to check out, and then a few days later press play. The film takes place in Prague in 1968 just after Alexander Dubcek lead the Prague Spring advancement. Soon after that the characters suffer through further reform following the eventual invasion of the Soviets and the Warsaw Pact. The film opens with two characters who are lighthearted and carefree lovers. Tomas is a surgeon and womanizer who lives life as though sex and love are two very different things. Sabina is an artist who, in the eyes of Tomas, embodies sex. Tomas soon meets the more heavyhearted Thereza, a waitress and aspiring photographer, who embodies innocence. They are opposites but soon Thereza will also embody love in the eyes of Tomas.

    The characters in The Unbearable Lightness of Being evolve wonderfully in a significant and chaotic backdrop, but they never steer from their passions. It is layered as not only a romance, but also as a story about rebellion, and as an erotic dance; but ultimately it is an existential story. A few of these points are strengths only realized if the book is read first. Not that I'd definitely recommend doing that if you haven't already, as the book does stand higher in it's own medium than the film does and you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. Some of the deeper messages are unquestionably somewhat muted in the film.

    Again though, judged solely as a cinematic narrative, Director Phillip Kauffman makes The Unbearable Lightness of Being a beautiful movie and delves deeply enough into these characters and their world that he manages to capture some of Kundera's vision, while adding his own motion picture flare. I'm conflicted as to whether this movie should be celebrated as a triumph in terms of Kundera's novel, but I'm not conflicted in the least as to whether or not this is a great movie all by itself. ...more info
  • beautiful
    This film, is one of the best screenplays I have ever seen (and I seen many). I had read the book before, and the film is just an extension of the beautiful superiority of the book.
    I particulary enjoyed the mixture of 'real' footage of the occupation of Praque and the film footage. Very well done.
    The reason I've only given this film 4 stars is because it didn't have a specific secene which I was looking forward to seeing.
    But the reast of the film definatly makes up for it.
    And by the way... the director is the director of Quills....more info
  • Lacking
    The movie was fine to watch but it was so different from the book. I told my father all about the book so he decided to rent the movie from the library and watch it with me. Big mistake. In the film the sex scenes came off as standard sex scenes. In the book there is a strong focus on the involved parties thoughts and motivations. Void of philosophy and psychology....more info
  • Moving, But Incomplete
    I didn't get this the first time I saw it, so I turned to Kundera's novel. This led me to the great adventure of all of Kundera's work, and he quickly became one of my favorite writers. I rewatched this again recently and was much more impressed this time around. Day-Lewis is perfect as Tomas, the sardonic Lothario. Olin is blood-boiling as Sabina, the incarnation of freedom. And Binoche is captivating as Terersa, the woman for whom Tomas gives up everything. This a stirring, heartbreaking movie. The only problem is that it lacks Kundera's inimitable *voice*, the witty, erudite mini-essays he uses to iluustrate his philosophical points. Kaufman tries to recapitulate that voice in one or two lines of dialogue, but is doesn't work as well. By all means, see this fine film. But don't miss Kundera's original classic....more info
  • Moving and Wonderful Cinematic Experience
    This review refers to the MGM DVD edition of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"......

    "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" is a cinematic experience that will move you in many ways. The thrill of romance, the heartfelt friendships, the tension of Russian tanks rolling through Prague in 1968 and the passion of a people to take control of their own lives are all a big part of this wonderful film. It is beautifully filmed, with a hypnotizing screenplay, and a tremendous cast that fully capture the essence of each of the wonderful characters they portray.

    It stars Daniel Day-Lewis, as Tomas, a renowned brain surgeon in Czechoslovakia(also renowned for his charms that no woman can resist)whose love for two very different women, creates a unique bonding and passionate love triangle between the three.
    He can never forget the beautiful and seductive Sabina(Lena Olin), who seems to know him better than any other, and yet he cannot resist the charms of his wide-eyed and childlike but serious bride, Tereza(Juliette Binoche).But when politcal upheaval, interupts his perfect life, they must flee the country, where Tereza finds she cannot continue the lightness of life that Tomas has carved out for them. He must choose now, a decision that may have him sacrificing all in the name of love.

    A nearly three hours, there is not a frame in this excellent piece of filmmaking that I would change. With each view I fall more in love with it and always come away completly moved. It is Directed by Philip Kaufman("Quills"/"The Right Stuff") and includes Donald Moffat and Stellan Skarsgard in the wonderful cast.The music adds the perfect feel to the rollar coaster of emotions in the story and the photography is outstanding.

    This DVD by MGM is a nice transfer. The picture and colors are very good and it is presented in the theatrical release format of 1.85:1. The sound is superb in DD 5.1. It surrounds the room and every detail is clear and distinguishable.(The Criterion edition is in 2.0) Not much in the way of bonus features though, if that is what you are looking for. There is a theatrical trailer and it may be viewed with subtitles in English, French or Spanish. At this time I notice that Amazon is out of stock, and the merchants have some, but at very high prices. This DVD is not hard to come by. I found it at my neighborhood video store at the sugg. retail price(about half of what the sellers are asking for).

    This is a film to be enjoyed many times over by anyone who enjoys, romance, drama, a little comedy, and fine filmmaking. It is however rated R for nudity and explicit love scenes.

    also available for region 2 viewers:Unbearable Lightness of Being [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - Netherlands ]

    Get ready for a moving experience and enjoy.....Laurie

    also recommended:
    Les Choses De La Vie (Original French Title)(original french screenplay of the more recent american update of "intersection"

    and for fans of Binoche:
    A Couch in New York
    ...more info
  • Unbearable to miss, totally illuminating
    This movie adaptation of Miles Kundera's book, which I haven't read yet, is a lengthy and illuminating study on freedom versus captivity, strength versus weakness as seen in the interractions between a handsome womanizing surgeon, Tomas, his lover and the woman who understands him most, the artist Sabena, and a Tereza, bright young waitress Tomas meets after performing an operation at a spa-town. Tereza shows up in Prague and unlike his character, they get married, complete with a piglet wearing a necktie whose squeals cause them to giggle uncontrollably at the ceremony

    The movie is set during the Prague Spring, that brief shining moment when a liberal communism under Alexander Dubcek's socialism with a human face, seems possible. To which Tomas mentions the ill-fated uprising in Hungary (1956). Tomas himself contrasts King Oedipus to the Soviet leaders. Oedipus couldn't bear the sight of what he had done to bring about the plagues in Thebes, so he plucked his own eyes out and left. The Soviet leaders though, were unlike Oedipus. Their defense at Stalin's crimes after his death was "We didn't know." Morality also changed since Oedipus. Tomas then says that the Soviet hardliners stayed in power when they should have plucked their eyes out. He writes an article to that effect, something that will cost him dearly later.

    At one point, the table and glasses rumble as Tomas and Tereza are arguing. An earthquake? Tomas follows Tereza outside. The source of the tremor is then seen. Pushing its way aggressively down the alley towards them is the menacing shadow of a Soviet tank. Yes, it's 20 August 1968.

    A great highlight is when the picture turns to b&w portion during the demonstration in Wencesclas Square, soldiers atop tanks, people climbing on top of them, chants of "Dubcek" and "svoboda", the fire of machine guns and people fleeing, bodies covered with Czech flags, with Tomas and Tereza in the thick of the action, marching, fleeing, or in Tereza's case, snapping pictures like mad. The scene ends dramatically with a Soviet soldier warning her, pointing his pistol at her through the lens.

    Sabena, and later Tomas and Tereza flee for Geneva, but things don't work out. All three journey again, the latter two back to Czechoslovakia, where under the reinforced hardliners under the thumb of Leonid Brezhnev and Gustav Husak, their part in the uprising becomes a liability.

    Sabena is compatible with Tomas's sex opposed to love. She asks him, "Are you only searching for pleasure or is every a woman a new hat whose secrets you want to discover?" She is sexually independent, strong-minded, and the mistress of her destiny. This is demonstrated when she meets Franz, a married lawyer, in Geneva. At a cafe, she comments on how music becomes noise, that even the plastic flowers are in a filled vase, and points to the building behind her as the "uglification of the world. The only place we can find beauty is where its persecutors have overlooked it. It's a planetary process, and I can't stand it." She becomes Franz's lover, but when he leaves his wife to be with her, she fears for her freedom, realizes she has left one cage behind only to become prey to a different one. But ultimately, freedom leads to another cage, that of loneliness, and the lack of happiness.

    Tereza wants a monogamous relationship with Tomas, but finds esteem in doing something fulfilling, being a faithful wife who does her part. She can't adapt to Geneva so returns. In doing so, though, it's back to political captivity, back to a totalitarian regime, but at a lower status. If freedom/loneliness doesn't yield happiness, does that mean captivity and community yields it?

    Yes, there is quite a bit of sex and nudity here, but nothing gratuitous or pornographic. It's more a tasteful erotica, i.e. the much ballyhooed scenes of Sabena and Tereza photographing each other. Sabena comes off as haunted, serene, grave, at times a twinkle of mischief in the photos.

    Lena Olin gives the strongest performance here, exuding a strong, enigmatic, sensuous aura as the sexually independent Sabena. She would've been a strong candidate as an Oscar nominee. Praiase also to Juliette Binoche's sweet, shy, sensitive, loving Tereza, the role that boosted her to the spotlight. Daniel Day-Lewis's Tomas becomes more developed and human in the film's second half. One of those memorable movies that makes one think in depth....more info

  • Is This A Movie?
    I didn't too sure about this. It was on special movie channel so I gave it a listen. All that happened were people in not many clothes (was the movie at the Beach??) looking sad most times. Also there was a hat. While I watched all I kept thinking was about other things like drinking water that were more exciting. I notice near the ending that the man in the movie was the angry man from the gangrene movie - I almost lost him because he was so different! In the other movie he was mean; here he was just bored or looked like he was looking at something very far aways. He didn't talk much but was a doctor so I guess he is smart. There is a car crash in the snow near the end, but I don't think that was a learning part. The movie is like watching the home films from vacations when you are at boring cousin house, or shows on the public channels. Drink water for more fun - or watch with pillows!!! One sleepy star this time! (wait: there are pretty girls in here, so be careful watching!)...more info
  • Now That "Take Off Your Clothes" Isn't So Shocking Anymore, It Seems A More Solid Film
    First a word about this version of the film:

    I didn't find that the extras in this two-disc offering added up to much more than a marketing ploy, but everyone will have a different opinion there. Fans will rave about this release, detractors will still say it does no justice to a superior novel, and most, like me, will fall somewhere in between. What did amaze me was how much better this movie looked on DVD than on the old VHS full-screen copy I have. In widescreen there's much more to see, and the scenery is a big part of this film, particularly during the tense moments between Tereza and the Soviet soldiers when life and death hung in the balance over possession of a camera.

    As for the actual movie:

    For those who don't know, this is the motion picture version of Czech writer Milan Kundera's novel about a libertine doctor, his wife, mistress, and their lives in Prague before, during, and after the Soviet crackdown of 1968. This is film that has its fair share of sex and nudity but it is one that never quite becomes as erotic as it is supposed to be or wishes it was. The Unbearable Lightness of Being is noteworthy because of fine performances by Daniel Day Lewis, Lena Olin, and Juliette Binoche, but to me and others who came of age after the Cold War, it seems a period piece rather than the revelation it probably was a generation back. It's no masterpiece, but it is a good film.
    ...more info
  • The perfect and complete love story
    This is such movie. This movie began an unwavering appreciation for Juilette Binoche, who plays a simple country girl, that adores the dashing Doctor played by Daniel Day Lewis, but who throughout the movie slowly matures into the stronger and more powerful of the two. It is set in the communist Czeck republic, during the tumuletous 60s, which saw uprisings put down by Soviet tanks and military. The backdrop is perfect for a love story, thier problems as a couple gain perspective next to the prospects going on, they both support the cause, and pay the price of being dissadents, which brings them closer together. It has a completley epic feel. It describes a couple, thier circle, the Country, politics and time perfectly. I don't want to give anything away. It is long, but if you like you will think it ends to soon. It bitter sweet and melencholy, but it is so well written I cannot imagine you wont appreciate it. The characters are more real on film than they ever would be life. I will always love this movie. I highly recommend it....more info
  • very bearable
    I believe that the current crop of young director's in Hollywood should be sat down and forced to enjoy this film, for it is a perfect example of exactly how a simple movie can be elevated to a piece of art work. Of course it cannot hurt if your base is a novel worthy in its own right, but the transfer to the screen does not always go this well.

    First and foremost there is a little of everything here. Daniel Day-Lewis is possibly the finest method actor of his generation and the subtlety of the Czech accent, the easy passion of the love scenes and the frankly mouth-watering on-screen tension with Lena Olin is a joy to behold. As for Olin herself, i may be alone, but i think she oozes sexuality and temptation here in a way that a Sharon Stone never could in Basic Instinct. Juliette Binoche is also one of the finest actresses of a generation (Alice et Martin, Three Colurs Blue and an Oscar for the terrible English Patient where she was the only thing worth watching) and she portrays the innocence and vulnerability of Theresa with an effortlessness that she deploys in all of her film roles. As for her display of under-arm hair, i have nothing to add!

    Take three fine lead performances, add the perfect, haunting, musical score and the tense backdrop of the Prague Spring of 1968 and we almost have a perfect film. At times the story meanders and at 2h 46mins, does lose the attention into the third hour. I wondered at times why more was not made of the on-screen dynamic between the two female leads and also why the camera dwelt for such long periods on Day-Lewis driving his East-European motor vehicle, but it all adds to the period feel of the piece.

    If you do not feel sad come the end, i should be extremely surprised, this is an excellent and engaging piece of film-making....more info

  • Kaufman's masterpiece
    Now this is a movie!

    Perhaps the most amazing thing about this film is that an American directed it. It feels so European, and not faux-European--it needs to be done this way. Or perhaps it's really not so surprising, on second thought. I've long observed how European or Europe-born directors make the best American films (Louis Malle with Atlantic City, Roman Polanski with Chinatown, even Paul Mazursky with Moscow on the Hudson), so why not the reverse?

    At any rate, after making a somewhat cynical American movie (The Right Stuff), Kaufman reinvented himself as his exact polar opposite, directing this relatively innocent film about the "Prague Spring" and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. I say "innocent" even though the film is best remembered (in Puritan America at least) for the explicit sex scenes that, to me, are not shocking and are not even the first thing (or second, or third) to come to mind when I think of this marvelous film. Instead I remember Sabina's hat, the quiet moments between her and Tomas, and the feeling pervading the film that life is fleeting, happiness elusive, and life-altering changes lurk around every corner. Instead I marvel at how the film manages to *suggest* the existential novel it came from, even though Kaufman chose not to try to adapt the huge existential portions of Kundera's book. This is a movie about time and place, and indentity, or lack of it; about commitment, about how heavy life seems or doesn't seem dependant upon the government you are stuck with. This is a movie about freedom, who can handle it, and who can't. This is a movie about courage, who has it and who doesn't, and I don't mean just the people who stood up on the tanks. Recall that the young and very verbal doctor who was most enthusiastic about Tomas publishing his article is quickest to turn tail and embrace the communists after the invasion.

    Most of all this is a movie that realizes you don't have to have a linear plot to create great film--on the contrary, film embraces such nonlinear story-telling. At the same time, Kaufman never feels compelled to venture into surrealism or symbolism. (He did consider it for the ending, as he reveals on the commentary track.) For some reason all this, and a genuine ignorance of Czech culture and history, has made this film a little tough for many American critics and viewers to swallow. They give it polite, superficial praise, but reading between the lines we get the feeling some of them are saying "What's it *really* about, beyond great sex?"

    Both Daniel Day Lewis and Lena Olin are excellent, and of course Olin's performance has received much attention and commentary because of her high-octane sex scenes (though comparisons to Last Tango seem wrong to me; LT was very cynical in is treatment of male-female relationships, whereas what makes this film work so well is the fact that it's rather innocent in that way). But the real standout--one of the greatest performances I've ever seen on a movie screen--belongs to Juliette Binoche. Her Tereza is attractive but gawky, poised by awkward, shy yet take-charge when it's needed. She is meek around Tomas yet grabs her camera and runs fearlessly into danger when the Russians invade. Binoche's performance is so astonishing we can reconcile these contradictions and in fact don't even question them. That she was never Oscar-nominated is astonishing. (This film received a grand total of two nominations and no awards--proof, if it was needed, that the Academy is retarded, considering such second-rate films as The Accidental Tourist and Rain Man took home big trophies.)

    Criterion's DVD is very fine, though a little short on extras. (Not even a trailer!) There are, however, fascinating commentaries by Kaufman, screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere, Lena Olin and others. I would have liked a "Making of" featurette too, but that's because I'm greedy. The picture is dark and solid as you'd expect from cinematographer Sven Nykvist, although on a large-screen TV you see more scratches and dust than maybe should be in such an important release. The sound very good if not THX-caliber, but this film doesn't need it.

    Yet another film on my favorites list that no one would dare make today. Recently this has been reissued on a double-DVD set. I haven't seen the new incarnation, but I understand from reviews the movie is *split over two discs.* While the film is longish, it can fit on one disc, as it does here. Also, the new documentary apparently contains comments from mostly the same people who are on the commentary track, so the material largely duplicates said track. Also the commentary track on the new edition is reportedly exactly the same as this Criterion edition. Given all that, I see no compelling reason to buy the new version, but I do wish someone would put out a definitive and richly detailed DVD of ULoB (how about some commentary from author Kundera?) someday....more info
  • A nice historical fiction movie
    This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

    This movie is set against the backround of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in the 1960's It is about a doctor who has physical relationships with many different women. He then meets a woman whom he wants to pursue a romantic and emotional with. She wants him to be monogamous. The ensuing results are quite original.

    The film is also a good history lesson about the Soviet invasion but is not appropriate for school age children. The film has a well deserved R rating for scenes of nudity and sex which I think were unnecessary and prevent a wider range of audience from seeing the film. I greatly hope that the producers would offer a version of the film witht he nude and sex scenes cut so that it could be shown in history classes in school.

    There is also a scene that Beatles fans may like where the song "Hey Jude" is sung in the Czech language. It also has many pieces of music by Czech composer, Leos Janacek.

    The DVD also has audio commentary by the director Philip Kauffman, Editor, Walter Murch, Co writer John Carri¨¨re, and Actress Lena Olin....more info

  • Best of the Best
    I've probably watched a thousand movies over more decades than I wish to acknowledge. Of these many films, two outshine all the rest (though for very different reasons): My Fair Lady, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Enough said....more info