Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Book of Eli

If you plan on seeing The Book of Eli don’t read this yet. If you don’t think you want to see it and need details to convince you – keep reading. There are spoilers in this, but it’s mainly a through look at the story, not the twists and turns.

I’m blogging out of order because I have to tell you about The Book of Eli during opening weekend; I have to tell you during opening weekend because I don’t know how many big screens this film will stay on after the box office nose dives next weekend. The box office will nose dive next weekend because The Book of Eli isn’t a typical Hollywood action film, post-apocalyptic film, or anything of the sort. The Book of Eli is about God.

Roughly 30 years after the flash destroyed the world Eli is walking across the ravaged United States to get to the west avoiding marauders and hijackers that want to steal his few belongings and more than anything trying to survive the harsh landscape that surrounds him. On his way west Eli passes through one of the ragged towns that has popped up, headed by Carnegie a despot enjoying his power. Carnegie sends out marauders day after day looking for a book, a book that only he knows and he won’t rest until he finds it.

When Eli comes through town he causes trouble and comes to Carnegie’s attention because of his expertise in defending himself and the fact that there are very few people left that are as old as he and Eli. Eli refuses the position that Carnegie offers him and flees town, intent on continuing west. But his plans are foiled as Carnegie realizes Eli is in possession of the book he desperately seeks and pursues. As if that weren’t enough young Solara has become fascinated with Eli and follows him out of town. Together the two flee Carnegie while Solara tries to understand the purpose behind Eli’s journey and conviction and Eli tries to keep the book safe so he can complete his task.

The Book of Eli has one of the most unique takes on a post-apocalyptic world that I have ever seen. What makes this movie entirely different is that it explores how religion would influence society in this wasteland. You see after “the flash” people began to speculate that religion, specifically Christianity and The Bible, was the cause for wars and violence and The Bible was burned world wide. Christianity was eradicated and The Bible disappeared.

Except Eli managed to find the last copy. He found this copy because after “the flash” a voice told him where to find it and set him on his path to protect it. He’s been protecting it ever since and following his path.

Where most films have religious sub-text there is noting “sub” about The Book of Eli - this is all text. Eli is the last follower of Jesus, a prophet of God set on a path. Just like Moses and the prophets before him he is flawed, makes mistakes and learns as he goes along, but knows more than anything else that God is real and has a purpose. The Book of Eli is not subtle. Eli is an amazing character and an extreme example of faith.

As powerful a character as Eli is he is matched by Solara. A young slave in Carnegie’s city she begins to get to know Eli when Carnegie tries to get her to proposition Eli. Instead of taking advantage of Solara, Eli takes the time to get to know her, shares a meal with her and even prays with her for the first time. Eli’s life and actions intrigue her so much that when Eli flees Solara follows him, trying to discover what it is about him that is so different and all the way he has to explain to her what faith means in a literal and religious sense. Her arch is natural and astounding.

I still can’t believe that Hollywood allowed The Book of Eli to be made. This film has Jesus all over it. I know it can’t be a hit in theatres for very long because as the movie went along the audience got more and more uncomfortable. As Eli and his path were revealed the audience clued into the message and did not want to admit that the film was about Christianity; in fact at one point during the credits an audience member actually got mad that it turned out to be a “Christian movie”.

Not everyone will like this movie, but those that believe in the message will absolutely love it.

Directors: Albert & Allen Hughes
Writer: Gary Whitta
Eli: Denzel Washington
Garnegie: Gary Oldman
Solara: Mila Kunis
Redridge: Ray Stevenson
Claudia: Jennifer Beals
George: Michael Gambon

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