The Film "Unbearable Lightness of Being"

Essay by naianusUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2003

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Unbearable Lightness of Being

A film by Phillip Kaufman


Daniel Day-Lewis - Tomas

Julliette Binoche - Tereza

Lena Olin - Sabina

"Take off your clothes." The line most repeated throughout the film, gave us a sense of what we were to expect from Phillip Kaufman's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being". Adapted from a Milan Kundera work of the same name, the story takes us through the life of an eccentric doctor living in 1968 Prague, and his sexual escapades. Tomas (Day-Lewis) is living in a fantasy world. He enjoys the fruits of life, along with "partner in crime" Sabina (Olin). His life, however, takes a slight detour when he encounters a quaint waitress in the countryside by the name of Tereza (Binoche).

He courts her while attending a spa community, where she lives. She then follows him back to Prague, where they inevitably fall in love and get married.

Sabina finds out of his romance, while still enjoying his company, and seems jealous at the fact, but then understands Tomas's decision. She helps Tereza in finding a job as a freelance photographer. Tereza also has a sense that Tomas is not fully faithful to her, and asks to join him, but he denies the fact. The story then takes a few twists and turns as the Russians invade Czechoslovakia. Tereza aides in the Czech movement by taking photographs of the invasion, and is caught by the Russian government.

Tomas and Tereza decide to flee to Switzerland, in fear of blackmail, where Sabina has already found a safe haven. The film then intensifies as a semi-lesbian scene arises. Tereza is told that in order to survive as a photographer in Switzerland, she must take nude female pictures. She goes to Sabina's apartment and asks her to pose. They enjoy...