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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (The Criterion Collection) (1988)

Daniel Day-Lewis , Juliette Binoche , Philip Kaufman  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin, Derek de Lint, Erland Josephson
  • Directors: Philip Kaufman
  • Writers: Philip Kaufman, Jean-Claude Carrière, Milan Kundera
  • Producers: Bertil Ohlsson, Paul Zaentz, Saul Zaentz
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: September 14, 1999
  • Run Time: 171 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780022386
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,096 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Unbearable Lightness of Being (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New, director-approved widescreen transfer

Editorial Reviews

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
164 of 174 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite Film Was One of The 1980's Best February 5, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Phillip Kaufman reached an artistic pinnacle with this elegant translation of Milan Kundera's book about the 1968 Czechoslovokian crisis. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Tomas, a physician, whose life consists in seducing women, one of whom - an artist Sabina (Lena Olin) - is his sexual and spiritual soulmate. Into his life comes another woman, Terezina, (Juliette Binoche) who demands more of a committment to her than he will permit to any woman including Sabina. His crisis between the carefree artist and the more demanding Terezina mirrors the crisis of Czechoslovokia between the "liberation" of the Prague Spring and the Soviet repression of August 1968 although neither Kauffman nor Kundera crudely makes Sabina represent the one nor Terezina the other. Although these characters may lead apparently amoral lives, the film and novel are all about the moral consequences of their choices. Many American critics, similar to the one who provided the first customer review, feel that Kaufmann has simply made a piece of arty Euro-lite soft-core: intellectual and opaque enough to appeal to the high-brow crowd yet tittliating enough to strike at their lowbrow desires. While I'll concede that this judgement applies well to his follow-up film "Henry and June" (1990), it's grossly unfair to characterize this film as such. The narrative and themes are presented clearly, the cinematography is gorgeous but never in an overly-arty way like in "Henry and June", and his whirling direction keeps this film moving along at an effervescent 172 minutes. The actors - especially Day-Lewis and Olin - do phenomenal work and contribute mightily to bring Kaufmann's evocation of late 1960's Europe to life. Read more ›
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158 of 170 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kaufman's masterpiece January 30, 2004
Format:DVD
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.
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101 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This movie is not about love and desire ! February 25, 2002
Format:DVD
I was deeply disappointed when i went through several viewer reviews. This movie is not about love and desire and etc as was commonly stated in most of the reviews. It is about BEING, EXISTANCE,CHOICES AND COINCIDENCES. This movie is based entirely upon the statement 'Einmal ist Keinmal'. The 'unbearable lightness of being' refers to the one and only one single opportunity of a human being to make choices and bear the consequences, since it is not possible to turn back the clock and make a different choice and see the consequences. It is also discussed in the movie, that it is coincidences that guide our lives rather than our evaluations of the situations and our actions(decisions) taken upon our evaluations.
This movie is the best movie i have seen in my whole life, therefore i could not keep silent against the fact that this marvellous piece of work has been misinterpreted by many and hence has been enjoyed to an extent far less than possible.
If you havent seen it yet....
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best contemporary films of all time October 23, 1999
Format:DVD
Wow...unbelievable that someone could give this movie 1 star. You would either have to be clinically dead or so engulfed in film-critique snobbery and technical objectivism (ah, we Americans are so mesmerized by that European chic and intrigue aren't we!) to not be moved by this film. For those who can't handle the erotic overtones, the "shallowness" (I completely disagree here) or can't get around Tomas' womanizing -- it's your loss. The emotions in this movie are far from shallow, it's just that this film refuses to be blatant about them in a typical Hollywood tug-at-your-heartstrings fashion. While the dialogue may seem cold and distant at times, the character's facial expressions (be they blank or not) always manage to betray their innermost thoughts and vulnerabilities.
Of course, this movie will appear slow and drawn out to anyone not accustomed to anything but "Armadeggon" and "Sleepless in Seattle", but I never found it dull. This is one of the most beautiful, human films I've ever come to know.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Expected More
Pretty slow, I was not engaged in the story line... I am not sure I would recommend this to others.
Published 2 days ago by Mel Hinkson
4.0 out of 5 stars why
very good because it held my attention and I was able to walk away satisfied that it was well worth watching
Published 1 month ago by carol gosselin
5.0 out of 5 stars like a diamond mine
Milan Kundera is/was one of the most thoughtful and unconventional of the cold-war writers. "The only places beauty survives," Sabina says, "is where its persecutors have... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Liam Allan-Dalgleish
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of sex, history, and politics
Probably I would prefer this film to have more art and less sex in it but... it is still enjoyable. One eventually cares about the three major characters and their relationship is... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Steven R. Severance
2.0 out of 5 stars STORY TELLING
this show was like someone telling a story literally,
but the story line jumped around so much, it was hard to tell what the author was trying to say,
was it a good... Read more
Published 1 month ago by sefriendlyguy
5.0 out of 5 stars Greaat Picture
I so enjoyed all the acting in this movie. Juliette Bariloche and Daniel Day Lewis shine, with some historical footage of conflicts in the balkans that were amazing.
Published 1 month ago by JOHN R.W. PURDELL
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I think this movie is better than book and the book was brilliant! The acting, the plot, the existential questions raised are all first rate. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dr. R.P. Forsberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Lightness and Laughter
What can we say of that film The Incredible Lightness of Being based on Milan Kundera's novel of the same name? Read more
Published 3 months ago by Claude Prevots
5.0 out of 5 stars Prague Spring 1968 - context for everyman love stories
One of my favorite movies because it paints a very vivid picture of the character's lives subjugated by the Soviets in Prague Spring of 1968. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Bill Walle
4.0 out of 5 stars The unbearable lightness of the Unbearable Lightness of Being
It's hard to rate this film because it has so many different levels on which such a rating might be based, both dark and light. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dave Bridge
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Where's the blu ray?
Warner's standard -- the two-disc -- is excellent. But I want a blu-ray of it too.
Jun 10, 2013 by JNagarya |  See all 2 posts
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