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Everything Is Illuminated (2005)

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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 & 4 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:

Odessa, Ukraine See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$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

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jonathan Safran Foer: appears as the leaf blower at the beginning of the film. See more »

Goofs

When Jonathan, Alex, his grandfather and Lista meet by the river, the moon is full, but it was only three-quarters full the night before. However, this could have been a creative choice by the filmmakers to show that "everything is illuminated" in that scene. See more »

Quotes

Alex: [voice over] This is Grandfather. Like my father and myself, he too is dubbed Alex. My grandmother, Anna, died two years before of a cancer in her brain. Precluding this, Grandfather became very melancholy, and also, he says, blind. His most recent employment was Heritage Tours, a business he started in 1950s, mostly for aiding rich Jewish people to search for their dead families. It is a strange employment for Grandfather, as there is nothing he hates more than rich Jewish people *or* their ...
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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

References Sin City (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Malen'kiy Mal'chik
Written by Sergey Shnurov (as Sergei Shnurov)
Performed by Sergey Shnurov (as Leningrad)
Courtesy of S.B.A. Productions
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A fresh and funny look on one of history's nightmare
30 November 2005 | by MrChiSee all my reviews

Everything Is Illuminated A young Jewish American searches for the woman that helped his grandfather escape Nazi persecution while embarking on a cross-European tour with some unlikely associates.

Liev Schreiber makes his directorial debut with a playful angst usually associated with his acting ethos. When successful actors decide to sit in the director's chair, we usually get a biographical glimpse at the souls beneath the acting mask- Check. We usually get a mishmash of genres- Check. But what we normally do not get is an insightful original film which is credible, intelligent and moving.

Elijah Wood plays Jonathan, an inquisitive young boy who collects pieces of life as he goes. He is on a mission to find a woman in a photograph. The sepia picture bears his grandfather (an uncanny resemblance to him) and the woman. To aid his journey he enlists the help of travel guides that comprise of a Hip-Hop loving break-dancer, Alex (Eugene Hutz), his apathetic and perma-vexed grandfather (Boris Leskin) and his dog- Sammy Davis Junior Jr! What ensues is essentially a comedy. There is an un-patronisingly simple introduction with voice-overs. Alex's is especially funny as he educates his younger brother on the year 1969, proving how popular he is with the chicks and break-dancing thus setting him up as Jonathan's antithesis.

Schreiber begins to break down the characters as they progress and the comedy acts as an intentional veil to what is a story about three people linked to the holocaust who do not really know themselves. All three hold the film with tenderness and authenticity something Schreiber was unlikely to get wrong and as enchanting and fantastical as the film is, the horrors that are allowed to crack through, i.e. the past are presented in an almost palatable tone (incidental music, cinematography) which make them all the more unsettling.

As the unlikely group finally find the town they seek they learn of the true atrocities that occurred and find out a lot about who they really are.

Elijah wood is as authentic as usual, bringing his usual innocence and strength to the screen. Formally a resident good in Lord of the Rings and a resident evil in Sin City he plays Jonathan with aplomb as he is bombarded with culture shocks and a quest for truth. Boris Leskin as the grandfather also delivers his angst and frustration at the youths with great humour and conviction as his own past is unravelled. However, it is Eugene Hutz as Alex that makes the show. The director using that old trade of translation misunderstandings to create and maintain a humour that is actually funny and not gimmicky.

Schreiber has delivered an enchanting debut that has both heart and soul. The continuous score and beautiful photography creates a fairy tale haze around a story about identity, truth and family. If there was a complaint, it would be the speed at which the film changes direction; though this could have been intentional it may not sit well with all. Nevertheless this is a sterling effort that delivers great comedy and bonding between an unlikely group while dissecting another aspect of the horrors of World War 2 in a completely fresh fashion.

-Chi&Ojo


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