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Everything Is Illuminated - The DVD

Updated on June 24, 2015

Get Comfortable and Watch a Great Movie


An Indie Movie with a Cult Following

It's hard to categorized this movie. It's funny, it's sad, it's history, it's contemporary, it's cryptic...

We enjoy foreign films and this one has parts in Russian with English subtitles but most of the film is in English. My husband started his career many years ago as a Russian translator in the Air Force, so this was an extra treat for him to compare the Russian dialog with the English translation. We've viewed this a number of times with various old Air Force buddies and they all enjoyed it tremendously too.

Everyone that I've shared this movie with find it remarkable. The most recent sharings were a house guest and then a few weeks later, my sister. The house guest loves quirky films and happened to be from Baltimore, Maryland. That's where the movie starts and ends. She loved it.

Then while visiting my sister, we dropped by her local library to return her books. Being a retired librarian, I cruised about admiring the layout and displays. Then I spotted the DVD collection and there it was, a copy of Everything Is Illuminated. I told her that she had to check it out. She didn't get a chance to watch it until after my visit, but as I predicted, she loved it.

Everything Is Illuminated - the DVD

Everything Is Illuminated
Everything Is Illuminated

A movie that will make you laugh and yet bring you close to tears.


Why You Will Love This Movie

The basic story follows a young Jewish man from Baltimore, Jonathan, seeking his roots in the Ukraine. His guide for this heritage tour provides quite a bit of comic relief as he narrates the trip in his broken, but funny English.

His grandfather, who claims to be blind, drives the car for the expedition across Russia. Also accompanying them is the grandfather's seeing eye dog who is somewhat deranged. Jonathan shares the back seat with the dog though he is phobic about dogs.

The village they seek is Trochenbrod. All Jonathan has is a vague family story and a photo of his ancestor standing in a Ukrainian wheat field. This odd assortment of characters set off on a road trip of epic proportions.

We've watched the movie over and over and each time discover additional nuances to the story. A few incidents baffled me on the first viewing but became clearer when we saw it again. There are many layers and they peel away gradually as the story develops.

We laugh again at the blind driver and his "seeing eye bitch." We wait for the scene where Jonathan attempts to get a meatless meal from a waitress who doesn't understand what a vegetarian is. You can see that scene in the video clips below.

Jonathan is a collector of odd bits of family history or anything that catches his fancy. He preserves these in small plastic bags.

You'll enjoy the mismatch of understanding between Jonathan and his guide Alex. The folk music and Russian rock music add a further enjoyment to the movie and the scenery is marvelous. Along the way you'll pick up bits of Russian culture, learn about WWII history and actually feel the persecution of the Jews in the Ukraine.

Sample the Film and Meet the Author

Watch a few of these scenes and the trailer from the movie to get the flavor. I've included several interviews with the author of this semi-autobiographical novel/movie.

The Potato Scene from Everything Is Illuminated

He doesn't eat meat? What's the matter with him?

— The waitress at the hotel on the first night of the trip

A Poster for the Movie

Everything Is Illuminated
Everything Is Illuminated

A poster to remember the film by. This scene shows the unending sunflower fields where Jonathan meets the other collector, an elderly woman who turns out to be closely linked to his grandfather and the information Jonathan seeks.

After his epic road trip, meeting this woman is the key to illuminating all the things that mystified Jonathan and the unanswered questions from his family history from the incidents in WWII.


Watch the Trailer for the Movie - Everything Is Illuminated

Where the Film Takes Place

show route and directions
A markerWhere Most of the Film Takes Place -
get directions

B markerWhere the film starts and ends -
Baltimore, MD, USA
get directions

An Interview with the Author - Jonathan Safran Foer

Do You Watch Foreign Films or Independent Films?

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Meet the Author

The Book That Inspired the Movie

Everything Is Illuminated: A Novel
Everything Is Illuminated: A Novel

This is the award-winning book that the movie is based on. Check your public library. They may have this book or you can order a copy from Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.


© 2013 Virginia Allain


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    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 2 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I love this movies and would so enjoy watching it again. The guide is played by Eugene Hutz, front man for the band Gogol Bordello. He is an amazing performer and creates a wonderful character in this beautiful film.

    • heytoto profile image

      Karen Kolavalli 2 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      "What is wrong with you?" Good clip!

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 3 years ago

      Very interesting movie made even more interesting when viewed with Virginia and Dennis. Another wonderful evening in New Hampshire.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Sounds like a delightful movie!

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Sounds like an interesting story. I enjoyed the vegetarian scene.