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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Daniel Day-Lewis , Juliette Binoche , Philip Kaufman    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Two-Disc Special Edition) + My Left Foot + In the Name of the Father (Widescreen)
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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

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Jenny J.J.I. TOP 500 REVIEWER
One of the most haunting aspects of this movie is that my video store today has it under the "Adult entertainment" section which I thought was a joke. I first saw this on its release in 1988 at the age when I shouldn't have seen it. I'd forgotten so many details of it, and I was newly impressed at the film for the second time.

That aside, I must say that despite the length (and a tendency for some parts to be longer than they should have been), this is a very good film. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Tomas so brilliantly, it's hard to think of him in his other familiar roles (Last of the Mohicans, for instance). Juliette Binoche is also great as Tereza Tomas wife. Supporting characters come and go, and the tone frequently changes with little warning. But those two things work perfectly within the context of the movie. Lena Olin, as Sabrina, does well on her role as a sculptor who also can find no place for love without freedom in her life. Her relationship with Tomas is based upon friendship and convenience. Their lovemaking is passionate but not empty or cold. If there is love, it is left unspoken.

You can see how Teresa, Tomas and Sabina's actions flow from what they are on the *inside*: This film shows how Tomas is driven to his womanizing by his need to be 'light', and how Teresa finds this 'lightness' unbearable by her need for intimacy.

Add on the absolutely mesmerizing cinematography (it acts as naturally as Teresa, Tomas, and Sabina do), and music that seems written for the movie yet is over 60 years old. This is truly a beautiful European film. Not in the ersatz 'Chocolat' style, but in the tradition of Krieslowski and Wajda. Within itself, it is a very moral film.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very bearable Feb. 25 2004
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A nice historical fiction movie May 3 2004
By Ted
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 Carrière, and Actress Lena Olin.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kaufman's masterpiece, now sadly out of print Jan. 30 2004
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this film is that an American directed it. The movie feels so European, and it's 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.
Both Daniel Day Lewis and Lena Olin are excellent in their roles, 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. 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.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Beautifully acted love story.
Published 1 month ago by Nancy Galli
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinatng and intelligent
The setting is Prague before and after the invasion by the soviets - not so timely anymore but still riveting. Read more
Published on July 22 2011
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Like another reviewer, I saw this movie when it was first released and owned it on VHS. This movie has something for everyone. Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2010 by Johannes Doreleyers
1.0 out of 5 stars Very bad movie
I read the book of Milan Kundera and it was so so good !!!!! When i saw this movie it was so so awful !!!!! Very bad interpretation of this book and bad actors !!!! Read more
Published on Nov. 29 2008 by Christel Gabriel
4.0 out of 5 stars 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. Read more
Published on Aug. 30 2007 by K. Driscoll
1.0 out of 5 stars Please read Kundera's book instead
Kundera's novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being is absolutely amazing, and this film falls so far short of it. Read more
Published on May 7 2004 by "mysterylanguage"
5.0 out of 5 stars 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. Read more
Published on Jan. 23 2004 by Annonimous
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). Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2004 by Shashank Tripathi
5.0 out of 5 stars 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... Read more
Published on Dec 28 2003 by L. Shirley
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