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Everything Is Illuminated (2005)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  16 September 2005 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 47,285 users   Metascore: 58/100
Reviews: 170 user | 111 critic | 35 from Metacritic.com

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.

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Stars: Jonah Buffa, Sarah Flicker, Eugene Hutz
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Cast

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

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

16 September 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Collector  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$66,806 (USA) (16 September 2005)

Gross:

$1,705,595 (USA) (25 November 2005)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Eugene Hutz's band Gogol Bordello appears as the polka band that greets Elijah Wood at the 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

[in Russian, referring to why Augustine never buried her ring]
Lista: In case someone should come searching one day.
Alex: So they would have something to find.
Lista: No, it does not exist for you. You exist for it. You have come because it exists.
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 Operation Filmmaker (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Amari Szi, Amari
Written by Keren Chave
Performed by Csokolom
Arranged by Anti Von Klewitz and Tradition Music Co.
Courtesy of Arhoolie Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Illumination is Humorous, Sad, & Deeply Moving
25 December 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I really liked this movie ... but the ads I saw implied, and one published review actually said, that this movie "benefits from a light touch." That to me is very misleading.

There is indeed plenty of humor: eccentric, un-subtle, sometimes somewhat twisted humor: the kind of humor I generally find very appealing indeed. But most of the humor is the kind that appears conscious at all times of things deeply serious, deeply sensitive, even deeply painful. The movie weaves together themes of Past and Present, Perception and Truth, Memory and Activity, Life and Death. The entire movie is suffused by the history of European anti-Semiticism in general, and of the Holocaust in particular.

How can Humor and Horror be combined in the same movie? The review I saw suggested that the humor is Absurdist. I don't think this is the case at all; at least not in the common sense. Instead, I think this movie stands in the tradition of much Jewish / Yiddish literature and theatre. I don't claim to be any kind of expert in this area; but from what I've seen, Humor is used, in this cultural context, both as a coping tool for the horribly tragic experiences of this people; and also Humor is used as a means of "recovering the Divine" for men and women who choose a path of Faith rather than a path of either Despair or Absurdism. See "Fiddler on the Roof" for Humor used in both ways in this rich tradition.

Elijah Wood (Jonathon) Wood wears horn rimmed glasses that really make him look, well, strange: compare Sin City when he wore the same kinds of glasses with chilling effect. In this movie, it's easy to see how the glasses become a metaphor for both his Search and for his Struggle between Perception and Truth. Eugene Hutz (Young Alex) and Boris Lesking (Old Alex) are both really just wonderful. Jonathon and Young Alex are from the same generation, yet seem so very, very different; and then find that they are not so different after all. And the way in which the Apparent Narrative Voice changes gradually from that of Jonathon to that of Young Alex .. as a journey of intended discovery for Jonathon becomes one of discovery for both Young Alex and Old Alex ... is to me so very moving.

There are some wonderful scenes and panoramas from (I'm told) Prague and environs, standing in for the Ukraine of the story line. All feels very authentic and seems to give a wonderful sense of place; although I've never been myself to the Ukraine and can hardly testify to this from first hand experience.

All in all, if you're looking for light comedy, I would not recommend this movie at all. On the other hand, if you are interested in a wonderful, delightful, and deeply moving film, please, check out this wonderful movie.


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