THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING – 1988 - movie - A Classic Review - directed by Philip Kaufman – based upon a novel by Milan Kundera – screenplay by Jean-Claude Carriere – players are Thomas (Daniel Day-Lewis), Tereza (Juliette Binoche), Sabina (Lena Olin), Franz (Derek De Lint), Pavel (Pavel Landovsky)
This movie is the product of filmmaking and acting at its very best. Freudians especially will relish its psychosexual driven entanglements surrounding our protagonists. The movie is just short of 3 hours, but as you become caught up in their story, the events that shape their lives, and the challenges they must overcome, you will not willingly leave until the final scene.
The story takes place in Alexander Dubcek’s Czechoslovakia in 1968, just before the Russians, fearing his liberal reforms would inspire similar actions by other Eastern Block countries, invaded Prague.
The plot centers on the intertwined lives of three people: Thomas, a surgeon, who enjoys the lightness of a guilt free sex life; his frequent partner who shares his views, the artist Sabina; and the small town waitress/photographer he meets by chance, Tereza, who moves in with him and who he then marries.
The Russians invade Prague and immediately begin a crack down on all those who they feel were responsible for aiding the resistance. Thomas and Tereza exit to Switzerland, where they find Sabina. Their experiments with their former life style of sexual entanglements drives them apart, and then back together.
They eventually return to Prague. Their passports are confiscated and they are now
trapped. Teresa’s camera gear is confiscated and Thomas loses license to practice medicine and is forced to wash windows. Teresa returns to waitressing. Thomas reverts to his womanizing ways and Teresa retaliates; all leading to an emotional re-finding of each other.
They leave the city and move in with Pavel, a farmer who is a former patient of Thomas’s. It is here, on the farm, that they find a freedom and lightness in their lives that has eluded them in the past.
Most of us think it’s life’s big decisions that rule our existence. One would think that Thomas and Teresa’s move to the idyllic setting on a country farm is one of those treasured bits of time. However, as we’ve learned, those moments of conscious choice play but a small role in the saga of our lives. But really, it is the smallest, most inconsequential decisions that ultimately decide if we live or die.
In the real world of Thomas and Teresa they experienced a true gift of fate – to have had that wonderful evening with their friends and a night of bliss for themselves.