The Unbearable Lightness Of Being: A Comparison Of The Novel And The Movie. Essay, Research Paper
The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Comparison of the Novel and the Movie.
The Novel and the movie differ in how they emphasize events that occur.
Things that hold great value in the novel don?t have much importance in the movie and vice versa. Milan Kundera wrote the novel, which was first published in 1984. The movie was the work of Philip Kaufman, the director, and Saul Zaentz, the producer. Together they did a very respectable job in representing the novel.
The novel focused on three relationships that tell an interlocking story. The relationships are Tereza and Tomas, Tomas and Sabina, as well as Sabina and Franz. The main focus is Tomas. He is a man torn between his love for Tereza, his wife, and his repeated ?erotic adventures?, particularly his long time affair with the internationally noted artist Sabina. In the novel, irrevocable choices and events that test the limits of human fortitude shape the characters lives. Because life is as it is, the world in which we live and the world in which the characters live is one in which, because things can only occur once and then disappear in the past, existence seems to lose substance and weight. Thus drawing the title into play. In coping with the consequences of both their actions and desires, as well as the intruding demands of society and the state. The characters struggle to create lives that have individual value and lasting meaning.
At the beginning of the novel Kundrea asks, ?what then shall we choose? Weigh or lightness?? The novel itself is his attempt to answer that question. The answer is hinted at in the final scene of the novel. Where Tomas and Tereza find themselves in the small country hotel after their evening of dancing, which was a rare event for them. When Tomas turns on the lamp in their room ?a large nocturnal butterfly? rises from the lamp and circles the room in which they are alone. Thus the room contains only the two of them, their happiness and their sadness. Sabina also adds another portion to the answer. ?Sabina felt emptiness all around here. What if that emptiness was the goal of all her betrayals?? ?Naturally she had not realized it until now. How could she have? The goals we pursue are always veiled. A girl who longs for marriage longs for something she knows nothing about. The boy who hankers after fame has no idea what fame is. The thing that gives our every move its meaning is always totally unknown to us. Sabina was unaware of the goal that lay behind her longing to betray. The unbearable lightness of being?was that the goal?? Kundrea wrote this on page 122. It reveals something of what the unbearable lightness of being is, perhaps a weigh more than any sort of lightness.
In the movie Tomas is the one providing answers to us in regards to the question of lightness and weight. His decision to give up liberty for love. He begins the movie as a highly respected brain surgeon, with a freewheeling lifestyle. At the beginning of the movie he tells a young nurse. ?Take off your clothes? which she does. He uses his job as a doctor as a way to ?get his foot in the door? when it comes to women. After all don?t you trust your physician when he or she asks you to remove your clothes for an examination?
Tomas is called to a small spa town to perform an operation, there he meets Tereza. She has Anna Karenina tucked under her arm. Attracted to her by her naivete, Tomas falls in love with her, marries her, and then is forever torn between his womanizing and his wife. He continues his affair with Sabina in Prague, she is a kindred spirit who meanwhile develops a sexually ambiguous relationship with Tereza. It becomes a tangled emotional landscape with messy beds and broken hearts. It is viewed through a carefully selected group of choreographed, comic, kinky and even elegant nude scenes.
Sabina is generous in bed and on canvas, and artist who paints with mirrors, that are refractions of life. And Tereza is a photographer, trapping images with her camera. When the Soviets take over Prague. Her photos are scenes of resistance and bloodshed. Hoping to smuggle the photos out tot he west her photos are captured by the KGB. Who use the photos to identify resisters. Along with other sympathizers she is arrested and interrogated. ?Don?t you know we love you?? she is asked by a soviet. This is an echo of her feelings towards Tomas. She is released and all three, her Tomas and Sabina, end up in Geneva. Where each makes a crucial emotional choice. Tereza to leave Geneva, because she feels that her husband does not love her, Tomas to follow her back to Czechoslovakia, and Sabina to leave her lover Franz. Who she once told Tomas ??. He?s the best man I?ve ever known. He?s bright, handsome, and he?s crazy about me. And, he?s married?.?
The movie and the novel both have their strong similarities to each other, but there are also major differences between the works due to their different mediums of expression. The novel uses the written word, while the movie uses stage, screen and sound to express itself. In terms of expression the stage, screen and sound will always win. You can see the events as they ?actually seemed to? happen. You can more freely and easily associate yourself and your feelings for a character in a story when that story is told in film. The downside to film however is that is cannot contain, nor hope to represent all the symbols that the author of the novel used to express himself. And something is lost in the transition from the written novel to the big screen. After all how does one emphasize the ideas of the goals we pursue and what the composition of life is on the screen when we are focusing more of our attention to the plot of things rather than the subtleties of the language used. This is the advantage that the novel enjoys the subtle things of the work. For instance, when I read the book I came across a line, I do not recall being in the movie. It is on page 88, where the narrator says in the book ?If I were to make a record of all of Sabina and Franz?s conversations, I could compile a long list of their misunderstandings. Let us be content, instead, with a short dictionary.? The meaning in that line leaps out at you. Sabina, who called Franz ?The best man I?ve ever known? has had a great deal of misunderstandings about each other. They do not share a kindred spirit as her and Tomas do. The second part of the quote ?Let us be content, instead, with a small dictionary.? Refers the reader back to the beginning of the relationship and the purity it had initially for Sabina. In the book she wishes to live life lightly. She has cut away all ties to any burden that might limit her freedom. For it is that access to freedom that allows her to float above life. Never allowing herself to be dirtied by it.
This type of behavior on her part is central to the story, during the middle part of it. Yet the movie does not pay it a great deal of attention. The movie focuses on the conflicts going on in Tomas, rather than in Sabina. The main idea is lost somewhat in the films focus on Tomas, who only adequately manages to express the unbearable lightness of being. In the end of the film we see Tomas become weighed down somewhat and we find out only at the very end what happens to Sabina. She has gone to the United States.
The one way of creating lightness or the weight with the ground in life that the stories places emphasis is by entering a lifestyle that contains certainty, predictability or stability. This main idea is more easily represented in a novel than on screen. So in the end the written word is a better medium that the medium of stage and screen.