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Everything Is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated movie poster
Directed by Liev Schreiber
Produced by Marc Turtletaub
Peter Saraf
Matthew Stillman
Written by Screenplay by Liev Schreiber
Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer
Starring Elijah Wood
Eugene Hütz
Boris Leskin
Laryssa Lauret
Music by Paul Cantelon
Sergei Shnurov
Cinematography Matthew Libatique
Editing by Andrew Marcus
Craig McKay
Distributed by Warner Independent Pictures
Release date(s) September 16, 2005
Running time 106 mins.
Country USA
Language English, Russian, Ukrainian
Budget 7,000,000 $

Everything Is Illuminated is a 2005 adventure/comedy/drama, written and directed by Liev Schreiber and starring Elijah Wood and Eugene Hütz. It was adapted from the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, and was the debut film of Liev Schreiber both as a director and as a screenwriter[1].



Jonathan Foer, a young American Jewish man, goes on a quest to find the woman who saved his grandfather during the Holocaust in a small Ukrainian town called Trachimbrod that was wiped off the map when the Nazis liquidated Eastern European shtetls. His guides are a cranky, slightly anti-semitic grandfather, his deranged Border collie, Sammy Davis Jr. Jr., and his over-enthusiastic grandson, whose fractured command of English, passion for American pop culture, and constant chatter threaten to make the worst of every situation. But what starts out as the tour from hell turns into a meaningful journey, with an unexpected series of revelations that will change all of their lives[2].



Everything Is Illuminated's score features eight original tracks composed by Paul Cantelon,[3] along with songs by Russian ska punk band Leningrad, Arcady Severny, Csókolom, Tin Hat Trio and Gogol Bordello, whose lead singer plays Alex. The band members of Gogol Bordello play the band in the train station where the character Alex has come to meet his US client, Jonathan Foer. DeVotchKa's single "How It Ends" is featured in the trailer, but not in the official soundtrack.

Differences between the film and the book

  • In the film, Alex smacks Sammy Davis, Jr., Jr., and he is then assaulted by his grandfather. This does not take place in the book.
  • The book involves an additional plot line regarding much of the complex back story to the present. The film focuses on the present time and vastly alters this other plot line.
  • In the book, Alex's grandfather was forced by the Nazis to choose between his own life (and the life of his son) and his best friend's, and due to his pain and fear, he covers it up by taking on the persona of being anti-semitic. In the movie, he is portrayed as having survived the massacre by pretending to be dead, then assuming a new identity to hide the fact that he himself was Jewish.
  • Near the end of the book, Alex's father leaves the family. In the film, he plays a much smaller role and is seen at the interment of his father.
  • The roads pictured in the movie look brand new, as the film was shot in the Czech Republic and not Ukraine.
  • In the movie, Lista is portrayed as Augustine's sister. In the book, Lista is not related to Augustine and does not know her.
  • In the movie, Alex refers to Jonathan as "The Collector" rather than "The Hero." Also, Jonathan plays down being a writer in the film, but in the novel he says that he feels sometimes that he was "born to write."
  • In the movie, there is a scene when they sleep outside, whereas in the book there is not.
  • There is a scene in the movie in which a little goat herding boy asks for gum and lets the air out of their tires. This scene is not in the book.
  • In the movie, Alex's grandfather commits suicide during their trip by slitting his wrists in a bathtub, while in the book, he does not commit suicide until later, after Jonathan has returned to the USA.


  • The subtitles translate the headstone as "Alexander Baruch Perchov", whereas the Ukrainian reads "Aleksandr Barukh Perets". Presumably "Peretz" was the original family name.
  • Many clever things that the Grandfather said are similarly missing in the subtitles.[citation needed]
  • The Grandfather says "Take the Jew with you", while the subtitles read "Leave the Jew here".
  • Alex and the Grandfather keep referring to Jonathan as "zhyd" ("жид"), which is translated as "Jew". In some regions/dialects of Ukraine "жид" is an acceptable word for Jew, while others consider it offensive.

Critical response

American Chronicle recounted the film as one of the "rare films that encapsulate the emotion of discovery and drama with humor"[4], while Time Out called it "an unbelievably assured debut as a director".[5] Noted film critic Roger Ebert praised the film and gave it 3 and one half stars out of 4.[1]



External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Everything is Illuminated is a 2005 film about 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 a local who speaks weirdly funny broken English.

Directed by Liev Schreiber. Written by Jonathan Safran Foer (novel) and Liev Schreiber (screenplay).
Leave Normal Behind. taglines


  • Did you manage to manufacture some of the Z's?
  • I am unequivocally tall. I do not know any women who are taller than me. Women who are taller than me are lesbians, for whom 1969 was a very momentous year.
  • Many women want to be carnal with me because I am such a premium dancer.
  • Forgive my speaking of English, Jonfen, as I'm not so premium with it.
  • Please do not be distressed. This is only the driver's seeing-eye bitch.
  • My grandfather informs me that this is not possible.
  • [Refering to the dog] This is Sammy Davis Jr. Jr... She is Grandfather's Seeing Eye bitch. Father purchased her for him not because he believes Grandfather is blind, but because a Seeing Eye bitch is also a good thing for people who pine for the opposite of loneliness. In truth, Father did not purchase her at all, but merely retrieved her from the home for forgetful dogs. Because of this, she is not a real Seeing Eye bitch, and is also mentally deranged.
  • Okay, so she is deranged, but so so playful.
  • I have reflected many times upon our rigid search. It has shown me that everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us, on the inside, looking out. Like you say, inside out. Jonathan, in this way, I will always be along the side of your life. And you will always be along the side of mine.


External links


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