Sunday, April 17, 2005

Just finished watching The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, went to to read on Elijah Wood... - and discovered that they are filming Everything Is Illuminated now (based on Jonathan Safran Foer's novel) - and that Wood is playing Jonathan!

Moreover, Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello is playing Alex!!!

The only disappointment is that they filmed most of the movie around Prague, not in Ukraine... It's understandable, of course - but very, very upsetting...

[...] The second reason was the quality of production services in Prague. Everything Is Illuminated used services from Stillking, a company that was involved in Shanghai Knights, Van Helsing and From Hell. "We looked around Eastern Europe and found that Prague has the finest production services we could find," Turtletaub said. "We're really pleased with it." Other places they looked at included Romania. "I have friends that actually made a movie in Romania -- they made Cold Mountain there and saved a lot of money," Turtletaub said. "But I think the service level here is extraordinary."

A few scenes were shot in Ukraine, though. "We did a little at the beginning. ... We shot a couple of days in Odessa," Turtletaub said. Originally they planned to go back, but finally decided not to. "We were able to get everything we need here, and from a cost standpoint, once you are here it doesn't pay to go back there again." [...]


Here's the's plot outline:

A young Jewish American (Wood) endeavors to find the woman who saved his grandfather during WWII in a Ukrainian village that was ultimately razed by the Nazis.


Here's more on Hutz, from the Independent's 2003 piece:

[...] Born in Communist Kiev in 1972, Hutz was raised on the forbidden fruits of western culture, thanks to his artist dad who had access to a lot of material - from books on Dada and Nietzsche to rock'n'roll - not circulating in the Ukraine. Because information couldn't flow properly, Hutz was hungry for it, gathering all he could from black-market magazines and snippets of state-controlled TV about "rotten western culture", even if that meant sometimes getting the wrong end of the stick. "This lack of news from the rest of the world created a situation for invention," he says. "For example, we knew there was this thing called breakdance, and we also knew about heavy metal, but we didn't know what linked the two together. So basically, we breakdanced to metal."

Hutz became obsessed with fired-up punk - from Devo and The Birthday Party to The Sex Pistols and avant-funkists The Contortions - trading their tapes on the black market, but it wasn't until the nuclear meltdown of Chernobyl that the first seeds of Gogol Bordello were sown. Just 13 years old, Hutz was evacuated from Kiev and sent to live with his extended family in western Ukraine. That's when he discovered he was half-Roma, a secret kept very quiet back home ("We would never have got an apartment otherwise").

This year-long country sojourn had a massive impact on Hutz. "Before then, I was living in a children's colouring book that needed to be coloured in," he says. "My only inspiration had come from the brutally bare and flat-looking districts I lived in. Gypsy-camp culture was my first sense of colour. It's about making excitement and merry out of nothing. I don't think there's anything more exciting in this world than that. And that, mixed with the urban counter-culture of punk, is what started me colouring this book." [...]


Here's a critical view on the novel and the film, by Ivan Katchanovski:

[...] There is even a possibility that the woman who helped to rescue the author's grandfather was a Czech. Augustina, the name of the women in the book and the film, sounds more Central European than Ukrainian. Thousands of Czechs lived in the Volyn region before the Soviet government expelled them to Czechoslovakia in the aftermath of World War II. The Volyn Czechs were more closely linked and faced less-severe punishment than their Ukrainian neighbors for hiding Jews during the war.

In the house in which I grew up in the Volyn region, a Czech family had a concealed underground shelter used for hiding Jews. The real-life hero of the movie might be actually found in the Czech Republic.

Many people will read Everything Is Illuminated and many more are likely to see the film version, directed by Liev Schreiber and starring Elijah Wood of "Lord of the Rings" fame. Sadly, they would remain utterly in the dark about the real events as opposed to their fictional stereotypical portrayal. Similarly, they would remain ignorant about the Czech link to the events depicted in the movie, which ironically was filmed in the Czech Republic.

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