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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 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...
Published on 22 Jan 2004 by marty mcfly

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Unbearable Adaptation of Kundera
Kaufman's adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being does no justice to the book, nor is it coherent enough to be fully understood without prior knowledge of the novel. Too much is lost in the transition to screen, and I found myself laughing out loud at certain choices made by the director. I found the beauty of the novel was the intertwining of philosophy with the...
Published on 16 Aug 2011 by Joe Steel


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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very bearable, 22 Jan 2004
By 
marty mcfly - See all my reviews
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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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Unbearable Adaptation of Kundera, 16 Aug 2011
Kaufman's adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being does no justice to the book, nor is it coherent enough to be fully understood without prior knowledge of the novel. Too much is lost in the transition to screen, and I found myself laughing out loud at certain choices made by the director. I found the beauty of the novel was the intertwining of philosophy with the central narrative, which would be difficult to convey on film, and is thus jettisoned in this version.

The films starts by using silent-movie style on-screen narration to outline who the main characters are, in what I assume is to make up for lazy film-making. These are only used at the very start of the film to introduce the characters, making them a bizzare abberation. They are overlayed with a soundtrack that does not seem in keeping with the tone of the film, and which unfortunately continues throughout the remainder.

Daniel Day Lewis is too young to successfully portray the central character Tomas. The choice to use a younger actor means that certain changes are made in the plot, like the exclusion of his first marriage and child. Day Lewis does not display the charm, sexual power or experience that is needed for Tomas. His attempts to give an alluring look unfortunately come across as a sinister stare. This is a role that I feel he would be more suited to play now, providing the role with the added maturity needed.

Juliette Binoche is by far the best thing in this film, beautifully conveying the fragile nature of Teresa. I found myself constantly entranced by her performance.

I understand that all adaptations from novel to film require changes to the story to make them accessible on screen, however in this case the changes have made the story and central ideas unclear. Whilst Sabina is an important part in the novel, her role in Tomas and Teresa's relationship is given too much gravity in the film, and I would have preferred to see more of her relationship with Franz - which they have altered in the film, both in detail and in the novels timeline, lessening its importance.

If you have read the novel and, like I was, are tempted to watch the film then I can only recommend it as a means to settle your curiosity. If you haven't read the novel and are considering watching the film based on other factors (who's in it, the director, simple curiosity) then I strongly urge you to save your money and put it towards buying the book- a much wiser investment!
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American European Classic!!! Slow yet rewarding!!!!!, 4 July 2007
By 
nmollo (London) - See all my reviews
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This is a Classic Film make no mistake about it. Yes, it is slow but it is meant to be.

Is it a faithful adaptation of the book? I would say yes considering the source material. The book contains whole sections of intellectual pondering regarding the internal struggle involved in passionate love. These passages are unfilmable.

What we have here is a very European film dripping with cold sexuality and emotional torture. The Actors, the Director and all involved in this production should feel very proud of what they have achieved.

The Direction is confident and fresh. The performances are faultless. Juliette Binoche is truly a remarkable actor. Her desperation is beautifully played. I have to say that this is one of the best displays of acting I think I have ever seen ("I know he loves me, I know he love's me!"). Only a cold heart could not be moved by such a truthful and outstanding performance. On top of that she is also incredibly sexy.

Daniel Day-Lewis plays his part with such realism that he seems almost not to be acting. That is the art of the game. Lena Olin is also outstanding. She is one of the most attractive and sexually alluring women ever to have graced the screen. The scene in which she complains about the music is, I feel, a classic moment and so true. It is played to perfection.

I love this film, and that's what it is, a film. Not a book. This Film seems to tap into something truly moving and touching. Thank you to all the crew involved. A Classic of Cinema.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prague spring, 18 July 2013
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This is is a truly original film. There are not many films about the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and this film carries the story line beautifully. The film tells the story of the effect of the invasion in a "Before, During and After" on a small group of people, with three in particular. The early sex scenes are well shot and integral to the story, if a trifle on the gratuitous side. The scenes of two of the characters protesting against the invasion have been blended into actual footage of the protests just beautifully and are also in black and white as per the originals! The blend is almost seamless and adds to the story of the characters. The story gripped me from start to beginning, in fact, I watched it a second time immediately after watching it the first! Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 29 Dec 2013
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I fell in love with this film and it has remained my all time favourite I have had to move with the times . I saw it first as a Film then aVCR & now I have it on DVD.
I met Daniel Day Lewis when he was a15year old boy (at a wedding) & he told me then he wanted to be an actor. How well he has done..
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Incrediblw Art of Filming the Unfilmable, 17 May 2009
By 
James Caldwell "dr_bliss" (Australia) - See all my reviews
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Unbearable Lightness Of Being - 2 Disc Special Edition [DVD]

This movie has haunted me for years, and I was delighted to find it priced so well here at Amazon UK. As the extras continualy state, the project of filming Milan Kundra's etherial novel was formidable. The original written work was anecdotal, prosaic, and poetic. More of a memoir full of vigniettes. Phillip Kauffman, however, has bound this together in an unforgettable narrative, which ends the entire advemtire om a manner lighter than a floating feather. It has to be seen to be appreciated.

I would have given this five stars if it were not for the idiotic marketing tactic on the DVD cover. "Most erotic film since "Last Tango In Paris". This may be so at a superficial level, but if you're considering buying this as an artistic skin flick, I think you'll find yurself like the precosious teen I was at the end of the first act of the stage version of "Hair", after all the clothing was taken off.

Where's the beef?

Indeed. At a superficial level, this film concerns quite erotic sex scenes, but is far from being consumed by the subject. It's about "The Unbearable Lightness of BEING", not copulating. As such, this is a stunning movie which will leave you pondering about the protagonists'lives, and your own, well after the credits roll.

A true MUST HAVE for a collector of fine films.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic movie, 15 Sep 2013
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This film must stand in a lot of homes . It has sow good a history .
I'll give it 5 stars and that is not enough .
Buy it.
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49 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just another love story, 13 April 2007
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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The Unbearable Lightness of Being is one of those occasional attempts by American filmmakers to make a European arthouse movie in English, in this case taking on an `unfilmable' novel and trying to solve the problem of turning inner monologue into a credible narrative. Despite, or perhaps because of Jean-Claude Carriere's presence as co-writer with director Philip Kaufman, this tends to take the form of the odd conversation between shags rather than an attempt to turn ideas into images, leaving a rather conventional narrative about a philandering surgeon who ultimately needs the oppression of the Russian invasion rather than the freedom of the Czech Spring to focus his emotional commitments and principles. Some of this is done well, some of it less well, but at the end of the day it's just a love story, although it deals well with the personal consequences of the political crackdown and the ending is quietly moving. Which, in a way, reflects some kind of emotional triumph - whereas for most of the film we don't really care for the characters, merely go along with them, by the end, like he hero, we have at least attained some genuine level of emotional commitment.

Whether that entirely justifies 171-minutes of screen time is debatable, though in its defense the film never feels that long. There are moments that grate, not least the sporadically clumsy integration of the main characters into archive footage of the Russian invasion that draws attention to itself by the crude device of adding scratches only to the new footage. The photography session doesn't quite work either despite an interesting start, not quite pulling off the shift of power and veering off into self-indulgence. The performances are slightly problematic too, especially with the Czechs limited to the smaller supporting roles in an Anglo-French-Swedish-American cast leading to a variety of composite accents (often more Germanic than Slav) and a feeling that the casting directors thought "Yeah, he sounds foreign, he'll do" at times. Daniel Day Lewis fares well as the coldly charismatic and fickle doc but still hadn't shrugged off that well-trained British stage actor feel to his performances; Juliette Binoche is genuinely appealing in one of her more open performances, although it's a bit of a stretch that her character never loses her naiveté; but as the more passionate of his loves Lena Olin is somewhat more problematic, her performance getting less convincing as the film progresses until rediscovering its humanity in her final scene. Of the supporting players, Erland Josephon has one good scene as a former ambassador reduced to being a janitor that underlines the way that even love and sex can be used as weapons of political oppression merely through the introduction of doubt - an idea that becomes strangely more powerful because of the way Kaufman frequently fails to summon up much in the way of eroticism because he generally regards sex as joyfully comic.

Annoyingly the film has been split across two discs, although the break isn't quite as abrupt as on some other discs. The DVD boasts a good transfer with an interesting audio commentary and good half hour documentary that illustrates that even if they didn't entirely succeed at least the filmmakers were trying to create something of real substance.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult Task, but Still a Great Movie, 3 Aug 2007
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.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JUST SUPERB, 25 May 2004
By 
Mr. Wt Makhathini "thandam" (Durban, South Africa) - See all my reviews
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One of those movies you have to have in your collection. I could not say more than what other reviewers have said. Superb acting by all cast Juliette Benoche alwayz amazing as a young naive girl."take off your clothes im a doctor" Wow! i wish i could do that without getting into trouble. you have to see it to believe it.One of the best things I love about this movie is the story line very beautiful,excellent sounds, picture, scenary just beautiful.Watch it with the one you love the most.It will stay in your mind forever.
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Unbearable Lightness of Being [DVD] [1993] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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