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.
A young Jewish American flies to Ukraine in search of his grandfather's past. He has a photograph and the name of a village. He hires Odessa Heritage Tours, made up of a gruff old man and his English-speaking grandson. The three, plus grandfather's deranged dog, travel in an old car from Odessa into Ukraine's heart. Jonathan, the American, is a collector, putting things he finds into small plastic bags, so he will remember. Alex, the interpreter, is an archetypal wild and crazy guy. Alex asks the old man, "Was there anti-Semitism in the Ukraine before the war?" Will they find the village? The past illuminates everything. Written by
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 »
[as they drive by an abandoned, half-destroyed apartment building]
What is it?
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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 »
This is precious. Everything Is Illuminated is sweetly and sublimely funny from the first delicious line of dialogue. Oh, how I've been waiting for this to arrive in Austin. While Elijah Wood is charming as ever as Jonathan Safran Foer (the real-life author of the novel Everything Is Illuminated), it's Eugene Hutz (playing Jonathan's Ukrainian tour-guide and translator, Alex) who truly steals this film. Alex is a hip-hop-lovin' Ukrainian break-dancer who, along with his grandfather, helps Jonathan find the woman who saved Jonathan's grandfather's life during World War II. The Ukrainian countryside has never looked so breath taking. I'm thinking of packing it all up and moving to the former Soviet state.
The tone of the film, however, shifts when Jonathan and Alex do finally meet the woman they're looking for, and suddenly, this adorable comedy turns into a heart-breaking historical drama about a Jewish village that was annihilated during the Nazi occupation. Everything Is Illuminated is about history, heritage, and the wisdom that can be gained from uncovering the past. It's perfect.
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