Movie-A-Day #5: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988).
Jan. 5, 1968, marked the beginning of the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia when political reformer Alexander Dubcek took control of the country and relaxed the oppression of the Communist Party – until the Soviet Union moved in later that year to quash the uprising and re-institute its harsh rule. These few months saw a flowering of free speech, art and political freedoms that may not have lasted long, but which did serve as an inspiration for the citizens of other Communist nations who were finally able to declare independence from Soviet control in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“The Unbearable Lightness of Being” – based on Milan Kundera’s novel and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Lena Olin and Juliette Binoche – is the story of a doomed love affair set against the backdrop of the Prague Spring and is wonderfully evocative of that era’s sense of new-found freedom in the shadow of oppression.
And it was wonderfully timed too. Not long after the film’s release, the Soviet empire finally started to crumble, and soon the Czechs and their Eastern European neighbors were finally able to taste real political and personal freedom.