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Everything Is Illuminated (2005)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama | 14 October 2005 (USA)
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2:31 | Trailer
A young Jewish American man endeavors to find the woman who saved his grandfather during World War II in a Ukrainian village, that was ultimately razed by the Nazis, with the help of an eccentric local.

Director:

Liev Schreiber

Writers:

Jonathan Safran Foer (novel), Liev Schreiber (screenplay)
7 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Eugene Hutz ... Alex
Elijah Wood ... Jonathan Safran Foer
Jonathan Safran Foer ... Leaf Blower
Jana Hrabetova Jana Hrabetova ... Jonathan's Grandmother
Stephen Samudovsky Stephen Samudovsky ... Jonathan's Grandfather Safran
Ljubomir Dezera ... Young Jonathan
Oleksandr Choroshko Oleksandr Choroshko ... Alexander Perchov, Father
Gil Kazimirov Gil Kazimirov ... Igor
Zuzana Hodkova Zuzana Hodkova ... Alex's Mother
Mikki Mikki ... Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.
Mouse Mouse ... Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.
Boris Lyoskin ... Grandfather (as Boris Leskin)
Robert Chytil Robert Chytil ... Breakdancer
Jaroslava Sochova Jaroslava Sochova ... Woman on Train
Sergei Ryabtsev Sergei Ryabtsev ... Ukrainian Band Member (as Sergej Rjabcev)
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Storyline

Jewish-American writer Jonathan Safran Foer is a collector of his family's memorabilia, although most of the items, some which he takes without asking, would not be considered keepsakes by the average person. He places most of those items in individual Ziploc bags, and hangs them on his keepsake wall under the photograph of the person to who it is most associated. He has this compulsion in an effort to remember. He is able to tie a photograph that he receives from his grandmother, Sabine Foer, on her deathbed - it of his grandfather, Safran Foer, during the war in the Ukraine, and a young woman he will learn is named Augustine - back to a pendant he stole from his grandfather on his deathbed in 1989, the pendant of a glass encased grasshopper. Learning that Augustine somehow saved his grandfather's life leads to Jonathan going on a quest to find out the story at its source where the photograph was taken, in a now non-existent and probably largely forgotten town called Trachimbrod that... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Leave Normal Behind.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for disturbing images/violence, sexual content and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian | Ukrainian

Release Date:

14 October 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Collector See more »

Filming Locations:

Czech Republic See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$66,806, 18 September 2005

Gross USA:

$1,712,337

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,601,974
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although set in the Ukraine the film was largely shot in the Czech Republic. This is most visible at the end of the film when Vystaviste, a famous exhibition ground in the north of Prague, is used as the Odessa train station. See more »

Goofs

When Alex's grandfather asks Alex and Jonathan to leave, Jonathan immediately leaves, even though Alex has not translated the request into English. This, however, was most likely a creative choice to show the power and emotion of Alex's grandfather's words. See more »

Quotes

Alex: [In Ukrainian]
[to Lista]
Alex: Please, don't be scared. Cars are totally safe now. They even have airbags, crumple zones... Maybe not this one... but most!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Several songs are credited to the New York punk/Gypsy/Jewish klezmer band, Gogol Bordello, which is led by Eugene Hutz, who plays Alex in the film (the same band greets Jonathan when he arrives on the train). The last of these songs, "Start Wearing Purple (For Me Now)," which plays over the end credits, is credited to both a correct spelling (Gogol Bordello), dg and Gogol Bodello, an incorrect spelling. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Bunny and the Bull (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Shakedown
Written by Jack Livesey
Performed by The Con Artists
Courtesy of Duotone Audio Group Ltd
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Sentimental Road Trip ThroughThe Impact of Eastern European History
6 October 2005 | by noraleeSee all my reviews

"Everything is Illuminated" is a simplified interpretation of something more than half of the Jonathan Safran Foer novel. This version is more about changes in Eastern Europe from World War II through post-Cold War and how the younger generation relates to that history as a family memory.

Debut director/adapter Liev Schreiber retains some of the humor and language clashes of the novel, mostly through the marvelous Eugene Hutz as the U.S.-beguiled Ukrainian tour guide. He is so eye-catching that the film becomes more his odyssey into his country and his family as he goes from his comfortable milieu in sophisticated Odessa to the heart of a cynical, isolated land that has been ravaged by conquerors through the Communists and now capitalists, with both Jews and non-Jews as detritus. As funny as his opening scenes are when he establishes his cheeky bravura, we later feel his fish-out-of-waterness in his own country when he tries to ask directions of local yokels.

Shreiber uses Elijah Wood, as the American tourist, as an up tight cog in a visual panoply, as his character is less verbal than as one of the narrators in the book. He and Hutz play off each other well until the conclusion that becomes more sentimental in this streamlined plot. Once the grandfather's story takes over in the last quarter of the film, marvelously and unpredictably enacted by Boris Leskin, the younger generation does not seem to undergo any catharsis, as they just tidy up the closure.

Schreiber does a wonderful job visualizing the human urge to document history. One of his consultants in the credits is Professor Yaffa Eliach and her style of remembering pre-Holocaust shtetl life through artifacts clearly inspired the look and it is very powerful and effective.

The Czech Republic stands in for the Ukraine and the production design staff were able to find memorable symbols of change in the cities, towns and countryside, as this is now primarily a road movie, and the long driving scenes do drag a bit. Schreiber retains some of the symbolism from the book, particularly of the moon and river, but having cut out the portions of the book that explain those, they just look pretty or ominous for atmosphere and no longer represent time and fate.

As W.C. Fields would have predicted, the dog steals most of his scenes for easy laughs. In general, Schreiber does go for more poignancy than the book. It is irresistibly touching, especially for those who haven't read the book, but less morally and emotionally messy.

The film is enormously uplifted by its marvelous soundtrack, which ranges from songs and instrumentals from Hutz's gypsy band to traditional tunes to contemporary tracks to Paul Cantelon's klezmer fusion score.

This is not a Holocaust film per se, being a kind of mirror image of "The Train of Life (Train de vie)" as about memory of a time that is freighted with meaning now, but will resonate more with those who have an emotional connection to that history.


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