179 user 97 critic

Everything Is Illuminated (2005)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama | 14 October 2005 (USA)
2:33 | Trailer

On Disc

at Amazon

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.


Liev Schreiber


Jonathan Safran Foer (novel), Liev Schreiber (screenplay)
7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »





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)


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


Leave Normal Behind.


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 »





English | Russian | Ukrainian

Release Date:

14 October 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Collector See more »

Filming Locations:

Czech Republic See more »


Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$66,806, 18 September 2005, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,705,595, 27 November 2005
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Directorial debut of Liev Schreiber. See more »


In front of the train station, Jonathan explains to Alex that he is distressed by dogs as Alex gets into the vehicle. Jonathan miraculously ends up in the vehicle after both the driver and passenger are seated in a 2-door Trabant. See more »


Alex: I was of the opinion that the past is past, and like all that is not now it should remain burried along the side of our memories.
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 »


Referenced in Dexter: Everything Is Illumenated (2010) See more »


Hello, Hello
Performed by Arkadi Severny
Courtesy of Master Sound Records / CD Now Moscow
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

A "sleeper" -- it grew on me and became better with time
16 November 2005 | by Bob Pr.See all my reviews

I saw this last night and voted it an "8". Since then, it's grown on me and I'd give it a "9".

The film has (at first) a seemingly slightly disconnected facade between the first and second halves. The first half is a comedy and there's little hint of the ragged truths of eras, life, wars, religious intolerance that will become revealed in the second half. While at first it may be a little disconcerting because it's a slightly unfamiliar narrative sequence, on reflection it works.

The acting was good (Hultz in the role of Alex, the interpreter, was especially great).

I've scanned most other "User Comments" and see that some who've read the book are pleased with the movie while there are a few who are not. Both feelings, of course, are valid.

For me, a retired family therapist and one-world believer, the film was relevant on two different levels.

The first, as history, gave a powerful reminder of how commonly polarizations happen -- with demonizing and trying to exterminate any of those with a smidge different moral value system than our own.

The second was that in demonstrating the first, it also revealed something in common to EACH of us, ALL our families -- that each of us must go back to our roots to more fully understand ourselves.

T.S. Eliot expressed this exquisitely in the 4th of his "Four Quartets" when he said: -- "We shall not cease from exploration// And the end of all our exploring// Will be to arrive where we started// And know the place for the first time."

Jonathan goes on a fulfilling journey that any of us would find fantastically illuminating -- to explore and discover our roots; what were those people going through then, who were they -- really! -- before, when, and during the early years before and after we were born? Etc.

So the film at first gives us the impression of a comedy, then shifts to give us a lesson in history and human deficiencies, but through all that it also gives us -- subliminally -- a message about each of ourselves. All of us would be abundantly rewarded to go back and understand the place from which we first started.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 179 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching

Stream Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed