Movie #4: Everything Is Illuminated (2005)

Genre: Adventure/Comedy/Drama

Length: 106 minutes

Rating: PG-13 for some disturbing images, violence, sexual content, and language

Plot: Jonathan is a quiet, large-spectacled Jewish American known as “The Collector” because he accumulates bits and pieces of his life and stores them in Ziploc bags. He goes on a search to find the woman who saved his grandfather during World War II, in a Ukrainian village that had been obliterated by the Nazis.

With the guide of a cranky grandfather and his overenthusiastic grandson Alex – whose near-constant stream of twisted English only makes matters more difficult – Jonathan begins his uncomfortable and annoying trek. But what starts out as a farcical journey turns meaningful, as the past – and increasingly astounding revelations about it – begins to emerge.

Discussion Starter Questions:

v  What do you think Jonathan is really searching for? What are Alex and his grandfather searching for? What does each character find?

v  What do you think of Alex’s grandfather’s attitude toward the Ukrainian Jews? What do you think fuels that attitude? How does it change as the movie progresses?

v  How responsible are we for the evil that happens in the world? Should we feel guilty for others’ actions – especially actions done by those we know personally? Why or why not?

v  How does the humor in the movie make it more (or less) poignant, once the truth has been discovered? Did you find this movie more hopeful or tragic? Explain.

v  What do you think is meant by this movie’s title – Everything Is Illuminated? Is it? Why or why not?

-          From the book, Field Guide to Neighborhood Outreach by Group Publishing, 2007.

A couple of weeks ago, we featured the outreach idea of having a Movie Night with your neighbors. Over the next few weeks, we’ll provide several more tips and movie choice ideas you might like to choose from for your party. Or, you might wish to host several Movie Nights for your neighbors over the course of our long Wisconsin winter in order to incorporate all of these films. Whatever you choose, have fun! – Lisa Jaeger