The Book Was Better: Everything Is Illuminated

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Hello and happy Wednesday. A few weeks ago, I was told by an OkCupid user that there was actually a movie adaptation of the book Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. Everything Is Illuminated is my absolute favorite book in English, and I adore it because it reminds me of my Jewish ancestors and how they, too had to escape their homes due to World War II. It is an amazing novel and I believe everyone should read it at some point in their lives. I read this book about three years ago, so I’m going to focus more on the movie, which I recently watched and took notes of, so let’s get started!

The first thing I thought was “man, I love the music.” The music itself reminded me of afternoons at my grandma’s house, when she plays Israeli music while we all chill after lunch, which led me to my second thought, about how this movie, and obviously the book are truly Jewish. Like, you get the jokes and relate to the characters and everything they do and say. It was really refreshing to find a movie like that.

I loved the beginning because it was not rushed at all, and even though the movie sort of takes a different path from the book, which I’ll explain in a minute, it takes its time to introduce the characters and the plot, and the scenery. At first, I loved the fact that Elijah Wood was Jonathan Safran Foer, but then I didn’t like it as much, as I remembered how the character was in the book. I feel like they were two completely different characters.

One thought that came to my mind, is that I’m not sure how much of the movie can be understood without having read the book. I feel that many gaps were filled by the book in certain scenes, like I understood what happened because I’d previously read about it, but for someone going blindly into it, I don’t know if it would be easy to follow, and even if it’d be enjoyable or not.

And here’s the thing, the movie rarely mentions Trachimbrod and the flashbacks that are inserted in the novel, which tell the story of the shtetl. I feel like that made the focus of the movie change completely to Jonathan trying to understand the history of his family to his journey of going to the place where his family used to live, you know?

With those things in mind, I was already leaning towards liking the book more than the movie, and then the last half hour or so was just incredibly slow, and it dragged on, and I got bored. I’m not great at watching movies with little to no dialogues, and with this particular movie, it was sad that I actually didn’t like the last part. That being said, the last scene is absolutely heartbreaking and it’s what made watching the whole movie worth it.

Now, tell me, do you enjoy book-to-movie adaptations? Why or why not?

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

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