The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a film set in 1968 Prague, is a story of a love triangle between three main characters: Tomas, Teresa, and Sabina. Tomas and Sabina have always had a sort of love between one another as they have been making love quite some time, while Tomas also has Teresa, whom he meets on a trip out of town, and soon marries. The couples battle this love for one another, knowing that there is something deeper within this love triangle. Tomas, a surgeon living in Prague, is a persistent womanizer, unable to resist his unending stream of meaningless sexual flings with multiple and yet anonymous women.
Tomas has his way with women, and having such good looks, he doesn’t have a hard time getting their attention and convincing them to take off their clothes. Tomas doesn’t have a desire or tendency to change throughout the film. There are points that Tomas gives the suggests that he is going to put away his womanizing ways and be with Teresa, the one who he is married to, yet in the end, he still has the two women, Teresa and Sabina. Tomas is happy with his sexual flings with Sabina and his unending love with Teresa. Teresa, characterizing herself as weak, is in love with Tomas.
She doesn’t condemn Tomas for his adultery once they are married, even though she knows it is going on. She looks to Tomas as stronger than her, and Teresa envies what Tomas has with these women. Teresa makes the statement that she wants to understand what Tomas feels when he is making love to other women. Teresa changes continuously through the course of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, as she is forced to recognize the impossibility of her youthful dreams. Teresa comes to admire her adversary Sabina and feels Sabina’s powerful sensuality; although she knows Sabina is Tomas’s beloved mistress.
Just as Tomas must question his lightness, Teresa must also question her heaviness. Sabina, in contrast, represents extreme lightness of being. Faced with the ugliness and kitsch early in life, from her father’s repressive masculine home to the oppressive art styles pressed at her art school, Sabina declares war on the ugly and unoriginal through her paintings and lifestyle. The love affair Tomas and Sabina share is due to their mutual lightness. Teresa draws the attention from the moment she steps on the scene. Teresa is a unique character who only loves Tomas.
Tomas is completely betraying the commitment made with Teresa through marriage as he chooses to continue in sexual acts with Sabina. One can sympathize with Teresa and her desire to be the only thing Tomas wants. Teresa dreams that Tomas drags her into a room as he is making love with Sabina and forces her to watch. Though Teresa suggests that this is what she wants, it is apparent she doesn’t really. Teresa only wants Tomas to want her completely and not desire other women. Tomas, as the womanizer, battles with the desire to be with Sabina, but to still love Teresa.
It is apparent that Tomas truly loves and cares for Teresa, and this can be a redeeming characteristic, but the idea that he is not willing to let go of Sabina completely for his wife is a let-down. It is interesting how these characters, though so far apart, come together in the end. Teresa and Tomas have an emotional bond while Sabina and Tomas only have a physical bond. Tomas and Sabina do not share the same bond emotionally that Teresa and Tomas share. Tomas can only have sex with a woman and then leave, but when Teresa comes to Tomas’ house, she sleeps over.
Tomas obviously has let his guard from women down at this point because the feelings he feels for Teresa are more than just sexual desires. Whereas, when Tomas and Sabina participate in sexual acts, the bowler hat plays a key role. Without the hat, Tomas and Sabina don’t engage in sex. The scene when Tomas visits Sabina at her house and goes to leave, but turns around to see Sabina with the hat on which instantly makes him want to be with her, proves the connection is through the erotic toys and not true love. A connection between Teresa and Sabina begins when Teresa visits Sabina for her photo shoot.
Near the end of the shoot there is a physical bond between Teresa and Sabina, when they are both naked playing around with one another. When Teresa enters Sabina’s home, she knows that there are sexual things going on between Sabina and Tomas, and when she sees the unmade bed, it is at that point very clear to her. Sabina and Teresa share a physical touch during this scene that really defines the love triangle. Though Tomas, Sabina, and Teresa never interact as a group, their interactions play on one another. Teresa knows that Tomas is sexually active with other women and Sabina is suspected.
This interaction between Tomas and Sabina affects the marriage between Teresa and Tomas as they try to have a marriage based on one another, but can’t since Tomas is looking outside of the marriage for sexual desires. When Teresa and Tomas pick out the puppy together, this puppy is a representation of their marriage together. They have a living thing bonding them together, such as children. This puppy is important in the relationship between Tomas and Teresa throughout the film, and in the end we see the death of the puppy and how that simple thing brings Tomas and Teresa together.
Teresa and Tomas are married, Tomas and Sabina are lovers, and a slight relationship between Teresa and Sabina is addressed. This is interesting how three people can carry on such an intense relationship and not have extreme jealousy over one another. Teresa is the most interesting character in this film. Teresa knows the true meaning of life and she understands the beauty in life. Teresa connects with her photography in a way that reveals the essence and beauty behind everyday life. When Teresa takes pictures at the invasion, the pictures are of what is going on. Each individual photo has a purpose and a deep meaning other than the invasion.
Teresa knows that she loves Tomas, but she learns that she can’t depend on him completely, that is why she leaves and returns home. Teresa says that she is a burden on Tomas and just a heavy weight on him. She sees how free and light Tomas takes his life, and she knows she is not that way. Teresa cherishes the simple things in life, such as her photography. Teresa falls instantly in love with Tomas because he is reading a novel when he enters the cafe. Growing up with a vulgar mother and in a town where no one reads, Teresa sees the book as a symbol or a way that she can recognize and relate with Tomas in a way that she can’t anyone else.
The book remains their point of connection, as they name their dog, their only mutual possession and responsibility, after a character in the book Teresa was reading the first day they were together. Teresa notices the small things and cherishes it all. Teresa looks at life as something much more worthy than Tomas, who cherishes women and who he is going to get to take off their clothes next. Teresa catches an eye in the film and keeps the audience interested in her the entire time. The audience can relate to her feelings in a way that is more difficult to do so with Tomas and Sabina.
Teresa is the most appealing character and views life as worthy and cherished other than disposable and worthless. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a film of a very intense love triangle between three characters in Prague, is filled with symbols of love, adultery, and emotion. The film is a discussion of lightness versus heaviness and which role each character has against the other. The sexuality in the film is never too much because without it the film would be meaningless and serve no purpose. Though sometimes the audience doesn’t understand the purpose of the sex in any given scene, there is deeper meaning behind it.