I believe every film has a phrase, a key sequence that includes the essence and the message of the entire movie. The core of “The Book of Eli” I found in this phrase, uttered by the character played by Denzel Washington, shortly before concluding his journey:
“In all these years I’ve been carrying it and reading it every day, I got so caught up in keeping it safe that I forgot to live by what I learned from it.”
Since I saw the first trailer I knew I am not allowed to miss this movie. It did not disappoint me. It has great photography and Denzel Washington is doing a damn fine job in the leading role as wanderer Eli, one of the few people left alive after a great war that devastated the world and transformed America into a desolate wilderness. Throughout the film we discover that the terrible war started for religious reasons and that after the war was over, all Bibles were destroyed.
Eli’s journey begins after he hears a voice that guides him to the only place on Earth were a copy of the the holy book survived. The voice then commands him to bring it to the West, to a place where people are in real need for it. In exchange for this service, the Voice promises protection and guidance during the journey and Eli begins a 30 years long journey, during which he reads daily from the book he carries. This last Scripture proves to be very important to some people who won’t hesitate to kill in order to acquire the it for it’s immense power and value.
The interesting part of this film, highlighted in the quote above, is that although it is contrary to the message of love contained in the book, both Eli and those who seek to take the book, will not hesitate to use violence or to kill to impose their views.
Often in our fight to defend what we believe in, or to encourage others to believe in the same things as we do, we overlook the values we are trying to share, and we use violence, in verbal or – worst – physical form so that we violate the freedom of faith and the message loses it’s whole purpose: to make us better people.The film speaks about religious fanaticism and faith – about how people understand and apply God’s will.
The Book of Eli has profound implications, challenging our moral believes. Plot wise, the movie follows Eli as he is being hunted down by an obscure “tribe” chief who was seeking the book that Eli has in order to complete his library and also use the powers of this book to gain power. I would have preferred to see an organization with the specific purpose to seek and destroy all the books and Eli to be hunted by this guys instead. Finally, the end is really surprising, at least to a certain point, but I prefer not to say anything about it, I’m sure some have not yet seen the movie and I do not want to ruin it.
So the movie is great, but the idea had a much greater potential than what was actually delivered by Albert and Allen Hughe. The movie resembles the world from Mad Max (the old trilogy), as from it’s image and clothing. If they have given this some more thoughts, The Book of Eli could have been a masterpiece and a reference for the post-apocalyptic genre. It still remains a great movie, but not something special. In any case not better then Will Smith’s I Am Legend.