Book of Eli

Eli is wandering through post apocalyptic America with a mission to deliver a mysterious book to ‘the West.’ As he wanders through the lawless lands he has to battle bad guys who run riot raping and pillaging. He encounters the ruler of a small town who will do anything to get the book he carries. Then there is a trick ending and the good guy wins.

This is an intriguing film. The direction and visuals are pretty cool. All done in a stark, sepia toned style with vast landscapes to emphasize the barren solitude of the hero. The spectacular and stark Western landscapes are the clue that this is really just an old fashioned Western. It is much like an early Clint Eastwood Western. The bad guys ride motorcycles instead of horses, but you still have the stock characters: the mistreated woman who needs a hero, the opulent, corrupt baron of the small town who surrounds himself with cowardly heavies, the kindly, but cowardly local shop owner. There’s a saloon, a shoot out and a prostitute with a heart of gold. The tough gun slinging homesteaders named George and Martha. So what you have is a re-cycled Western really.

Remember those Clint Eastwood Westerns where he’s an avenging angel or even a circuit riding mysterious preacher? The Denzel Washington character echoes all of those too, only he doesn’t smoke little cigars and squint. He listens to Al Green on an iPod and squints. The religious aspect is present too because it turns out that our hero is carrying a King James Bible. It’s the last one in the world, and the most precious artifact possible.

This is where the movie gets ‘iffy’. I couldn’t help drawing the conclusion that the film was trying really hard not to be preachy, and if a story is trying really hard not to be preachy, guess what? It’s preachy. Any film that is ‘theme led’ is preachy, and it seemed to me that this was really all about the necessity and the power of the Word of God and that without the Word of God society would descend into anarchy, violence, chaos and destruction.

I agree with the message, and I’m glad someone tried to package it up in an agreeable film, but even with a writer trying to downplay the message and wrap it up in a cool movie with lots of violence it was still heavy-handed, cliched and predictable. That’s not to say that it’s a poor movie. I actually think it was pretty good. 7 out of 10.

But then, maybe I’m just being a grump. See the movie for yourself and see what you think.

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  • Anthony Brett Dawe

    thot you were going to say 'iffy'cuz not a Vulgateare you sure you went weelly Woeman?just wondering…

  • Jeff Miller

    I liked it for what it was.I describe it as Sola Scriptura meets Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman meets the Sixth Sense

  • K

    I always enjoy Denzel Washington. I enjoyed this movie; it had its doh moments, though. The worst was the link between the beginning of the movie where they explained that the apocalypse was caused by the holy books and the one at the end where they put the Bible on a shelf right next to a koran. Which book d'ya spose caused that apocalypse now? Hollywood.

  • Robert

    I didn't see the movie, but I've read several synopses. Unless you believe that "all you need is the Bible" out of the context of history and the Holy Spirit, the movie seems pretty pointless. Atheist Buddhist Daniel Dennett (yes that one), once postulated this exact ending scenario. He stated, "Suppose there was an apocalypse, and the world is plunged into a dark age whereby all knowledge of the past is lost. The Bible, Koran, Dhammapada, Plato's writings, The Odyssey etc, are discovered and distributed throughout the world. Would there by anything that would distinguish the Bible from every other book?"My answer is, of course not. The Bible is just a book. Disconnected from the Church, history, the lives of the saints both living and historical, and the person of Christ it's just a bunch of disconnected stories that have little relationship with life (except perhaps the Wisdom literature). Given all the books and information that they were dominant religions, a society in need of religion would likely create a cafeteria religion that picked the "best parts" of all religions and through out "the bad parts" (using the standards of that society rather than God to decided good and evil). Pretty much what western society is trying to do in the name of secularism.Nothing short of a return of the prophets could restore Christianity in that scenario. Fortunately, we aren't there. We have the Church. We have the Saints militant, suffering, and triumphant. We have history. We simply have to get out of the collective amnesia that we have be handed a great treasure to pass on.

  • Paul Stilwell

    I've been writing about this film myself, and I agree. The film is like the proverbial donkey that has two carrots in front of him to choose from and ends up choosing neither.The movie does not have enough in it to even qualify as being sola scriptura. The part where Eli is asked what the Book is about and he responds, almost wearily, "That we should do more for others than we do for ourselves – at least that's what I got from it" is absolutely pathetic.The film, in the end, isn't about the power of the Word of God, but instead the film goes with some kind of "the power of literary knowledge" cop-out. Note how the Bible gets shelved between the Torah and the Koran – after the librarian guy talks about how they've collected all the works of Shakespeare, excepting two plays…

  • historyb

    I saw the movie and what was surprising was the ending when Eli got to the city.

  • shadowlands

    'cool movie with lots of violence it was still heavy-handed, cliched and predictable.'Sounds almost perfect! I'm going to watch it and my son has expressed an interest, so anything to get him thinking about scripture.Robert wrote:"Would there by anything that would distinguish the Bible from every other book?My answer is, of course not."My (or rather scripture's)answer is, ofcourse there is! God Himself has stated that His words will not return to Him, empty! (Isiaih 55:11 ). "For the word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12Jesus is present to us, tangibly, in His Words."And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:4-5"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (Matthew 24:35).see also:I Peter 1:24-25 Psalm 119:160Psalm 119: 152.

  • Susan C.

    Eli's character reminded me in many ways of Old Testament figures such as Moses and Abraham, people called by God to witness to him in a hostile environment. Like them, he must confront ugly and dangerous situations and rely on God to keep His word even when the choices before him seem impossible.What I also appreciated is that Eli is not a stereotyped good guy -for example, at the beginning we see him in a scene that parallels the Good Samaritan parable, except that he is so consumed what he thinks is his mission that he chooses to stand aside as a woman is raped and murdered at the roadside. Overall, I considered the movie worth watching, as long as you have a stomach for violence – but if you love cats, keep your eyes closed for the first five minutes!

  • Dr. Eric

    I thought the ending was anti-climactic. There was a poignant scene where Eli realizes that he had forgotten the whole point of his mission in protecting The Book (other commenters alluded to this above.)