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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Widescreen)
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Philip Kaufman achieves a delicate, erotic balance with his screen version of Milan Kundera's "unfilmable" novel. Adapted by Kaufman and Jean-Claude Carrière, the film follows a womanizing surgeon (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he struggles with his free-spirited mistress (Lena Olin) and his childlike wife (Juliette Binoche). An intimate epic, The Unbearable Lightness of Being charts the frontiers of relationships with wit, emotion, and devastating honesty.
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 --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is an excellent, 2-disc version of my favourite film, done 2.5 decades ago. At close to 3 hours, it is a long film. Read morePublished 9 months ago by FilmFan2010
The setting is Prague before and after the invasion by the soviets - not so timely anymore but still riveting. Read morePublished on July 22 2011
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 morePublished on Nov. 12 2010 by Johannes Doreleyers
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 morePublished on Nov. 29 2008 by Christel Gabriel
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. Read morePublished on June 30 2007 by Jenny