Illumination – what a perfect word for reaching into your past, finding out who you are and letting it alter your future.  Adapted from Lieve Schreiber’s novel, Everything Is Illuminated stars Elijah Wood as a man in search of his Jewish family history in Ukraine.

If Roger Ebert likes it, somehow I know I’ll agree with the 69-year-old film critic.  The well-reviewed 2005 flick is a wacky representation of cultures and a bumbling yet whimsical journey.  The characters exude personalities bigger, quirkier and cheekier than a Broadway show.

After his grandparents die, Jonathan, a young, hopeful and eccentric man, hires a Ukrainian family business that guides tourists as they track down their Jewish family ties in Ukraine.  The owner’s candid son, anti-semitic father and “seeing-eye-bitch” dog take him through the undeveloped countryside fields in a cramped car.  In the end, irony takes center stage as the Ukrainian family’s own Jewish history is illuminated.

The film underlines the importance of discovering and understanding history in order to become the person you’re supposed to be.  Jonathan  “the collector” scoops up dirt, bugs and other mundane objects and pins the bags of mementos on a wall, preserving and treasuring his memories.  Another older, Jewish woman he meets also collects memories and stores them in stacks of boxes.  Their odd passion lends a lesson in embracing the past, whether sad or beautiful, because it will always remain.  The film shows that no one can completely erase or escape their mistakes, but anyone can grow from them – it all depends on your choices.

“…everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us, on the inside, looking out.”

Need help discovering your past?  Uncover unconscious present obstacles rooted in your past.

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