Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Book of Eli: A Walk of Faith Not By Sight

"And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." Matthew 11:12 King James Version

One part "Kung Fu", one part soft commentary on religion and its power, "The Book of Eli" may stir up some heated debates in religious circles. But before you toss holy water at the screen and anoint the projector with oil, why argue the truth? Religion IS a powerful tool AND weapon and those that wield that power can influence the world. Just ask the Pope! And not to mention, though the Holy Bible is used in the film, technically The Torah, the Quran, or any book of religious tenets could have been used.

This movie is more a story of faith and obedience, but it's NOT a faith based film as we define them now. There's violence aplenty (ironically just like between the pages of Genesis and Revelations), hell appears to be on earth, there's no tear jerking scenes of redemption, and there's absolutely no good gospel music in it!

That said "The Book of Eli" is set in the not-so-distant future after a catastrophic war has turned the American landscape into a barren, ravaged place. Lawlessness is the law of the land, and it's every man for himself. Amidst the thieves, murderers, and cannibals stands Eli (Denzel Washington), a mysterious righteous man on a "Kung-Fu"-esque mission.

That mission, he believes, is to deliver a special Bible, to a special place far west, city unknown. Thanks to the war 30 years before, Bibles are extinct and Eli possesses seemingly the only one on earth. So led by faith he embarks on his journey, destination apparently unknown, but he'll know it when he gets there. Alone he traverses the austere landscape interrupted only by foolish thieves and bandits that never learned it's the quiet ones you have to watch, and a dangerous man named Carnegie (Gary Oldman).

In the middle of that barren land, Carnegie has established a town of sorts and plans to establish more. But in order to really gain control of the area's wayward population, he believes religion is the key and will do anything to get the Bible Eli possesses. "If I only had the right words," he says. Of course, because books are scarce, very few people even know how to read so his words and his interpretation of the Bible would become law. Does that scenario sound familiar?

So while Carnegie kills to get "the word of God", Eli kills to protect it and himself. With unwavering faith he continues his west ward journey and of course manages to acquire a curious disciple, if you will, eager to escape Carnegie's hold on her and her mother lives. Though unwilling at first to accept her presence, he comes to realize she may be part of the Divine master plan.

Overall, the film has some very interesting talking points if you're open to a discussion of spirituality versus religion. But, though it's set 30 years into the future, it did feel as if I was watching an old school Western complete with the traditional "stranger in town" and "good guy vs bad guy" motifs. All that was missing were the horses and black and white hats.

My other issues rest with Eli the character, but I can't really discuss them without giving the heart of the film away. So should you see it--it hits theaters TODAY--let me know what YOU think. I'm eager to hear other views!

1 comment:

Prissy TomBoi said...

I enjoyed the film. I most enjoyed watching Denzel kicking ass :)

Ok on to the more serious stuff-
I think the movie was a great testimony of faith and having discernment when listening to the voice of God. He knew he had to go westward, not exactly where but would recognize it when he got there. He was also confident that he would not be harmed along the way as he told old girl during the shoot out that they would both live.

I didn't realize he was blind until almost the end of the film, it didn't even completely register in my mind when I saw the book was in braille...If finally sunk in when they showed a close up of his eyes in the end...at first this bothered me but thinking back I think it added to the experience, an "ahaa" moment which makes him even more badass than he seemed in the beginning.

Him being blind also added to the faith aspect and the greatness of being under God's protection.

I also liked that we had to come to our own conclusion that the world had been destroyed in a nuclear war of some sort and didn't show any flashbacks.

I wish there was an alternate ending, the sidekicks character turning "Laura Croft, Tombraider" in the end was completely unbelievable.

I agree with my date that I must see it again so that I can pick up on some things that I probably missed the first time around.