everything is illuminated

View product details of Everything Is Illuminated at AmazonI was recently surprised at how good Elijah Wood was as Jonathan Safran Foer in the dvd of the film of the book. I’ve never quite seen Wood in a role other than Frodo, and that seemed to be a role perfect for him – I know it’s a stoning offence, but quite often from the stills I can’t tell if he’s happy, sad, or simply pining for the fjords. That’s ok – I’m not photogenic either. As Jonathan, the young, tight-assed, angst filled, neurotic vegetarian, Jewish American man; Wood is beautifully cast. Obsessive. Did I mention he’s obsessive?

Quick story snippet – Jonathan decides to take a road trip in the Ukraine. As you do. He digs up a fab car, a guide, a chauffeur, and the chauffeur’s guide dog, Sammy Davis Jr. Jr., who turns out to be a genuinely gifted actor. Jonathan’s looking for a village woman who saved his grandfather during World War II. A couple of problems crop up. There’s not much in the way of maps. There’s not much in the way of villages. There’s not much in the way of villagers either, given that the Nazi’s implemented a little scorched earth policy coupled with some ethnic cleansing. Bag of laughs those europeans, yeah?

What was interesting to me was a visual representation to me of a topic that’s interesting to me – the octopusalisation of decisions. You’ve never heard of octopusalisation before, I just made it up. But this is when your grandfather or mother, or some other person in your distant past makes a decision that follows the unknowing you around the world, and across the years, and then tweaks your ear or your heartstrings when you least expect it. It’s like the distant sound of thunder. The ripples never leaving the pond. The echo of time. Octopusalisation is more than just a message in a bottle just for you though, the octopus has eight arms, and so it to be a true octopusalisation, it has to affect more than one person. The perfect octopusalisation is when unexpectedly people who didn’t know they were connected, suddenly are.

Suddenly, everything is illuminated.

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