The Unberable Lightness of Being (dir. Philip Kaufman, 1988)


  • Describe the characters emotions at the various points of the clip. The beginning? The middle? The end?
  • Can you imagine an event that would make you want to leave your homeland? Why or why not? What would it be?


This clip comes from the movie version of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988). The scene shows the moment when the two main characters, Tomáš and Tereza, decide to leave Czechoslovakia following the Soviet invasion of 1968. Two of the main legacies of the invasion were political disillusionment and Czechoslovak refugees leaving for greener pastures, both of which we can see in the clip. The disillusionment largely came, unfortunately, as a result of the great hope that Alexander Dubček and his more liberal government had built up amongst the Czechoslovak people. Many of those who had gotten engaged with politics were left with a desire to remove themselves from it entirely, a legacy that would last throughout the Normalisation period and that has not entirely disappeared even now.  Many, although certainly not all, disappointed or angry citizens decided to leave the country; in the clip, you can see that many of the cars are carrying Czechoslovak flags or sporting pictures of Dubček. Kundera himself, optimistic and supportive of Dubček as he was, was not immediately among the exiles – he continued to write in support of Alexander Dubček’s reforms until the government fully reinstituted censorship in 1969, and he was then expelled from the Communist Party for the second time in 1970.