Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Book of Eli

As of recent, from The Wall Street Journal to the New York Times, and from ABC News to Rush Limbaugh; it seems as if everyone has noticed the influx of overt spiritual themes included recently in the movies. For a buff like me who loves searching for those truths, it is almost like a Movie Spiritual Heaven. I love apocalyptic thrillers and there has been a fair share of those and more to come. Among the best has to be the new release of The Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, and Mila Kunis.

The premise for The Book of Eli is simple; Eli, played by Denzel Washington, is living in post apocalyptic America. He has heard a voice tell him to take a book he is in possession of West, we don’t know where, but it doesn’t take long to see that Eli has special powers, especially when it comes to fighting. There is more for the viewer to learn and trouble along the way for Eli and those that would side with him. There is even those who would have the book to use for their own evil ways, but Eli is a protector, a prophet if you will who has a mission, and nothing is going to stop him from doing what he has heard the voice tell him.

The Book of Eli reminded me of the Mad Max series with Mel Gibson. While there are depressing events along the way, it is not nearly as depressing as the recent movie, The Road starring Viggo Mortensen. In The Book of Eli, there are ample action sequences, and ultimately images of hope. I found The Book of Eli more enjoyable, that is if one can find a movie like this enjoyable.

The Book of Eli is beautifully filmed and there is some quality direction provided by The Hughes Brothers. While the movie could have used a little more plot development, that isn’t its intent and I think many a reviewer just flat out misses the intent of what the Hughes Brothers are trying to do with the story. I believe many things are left vague for a reason. This movie has as enlightening epiphany moment as any movie in a very long time. Not sense The Sixth Sense has a movie suddenly caught the attention of the audience as does the epiphany moment here. Unfortunately, many will spoil the movie, and they should have to run their finger across the sword of Eli for doing so, but the imagery, the vagueness of some of the story hits home when that moment in the film occurs.

While this may not be a great film to some, for me, a person who loves to find the spiritual components within film, it comes as close to bordering on greatness as anything that has come out in some time. I challenge, movies intend to include far more spiritual commentary than many fans and even critics like to believe. We see it in the challenge to Christianity in Rob Zombie films; we see it in classic scenes in such television shows as The Sopranos. Sometimes we have to search for those truths, sometimes, in rare situations; they hit us up beside the head like a Professional Wrestler in a Cage Fight. Such is the case in The Book of Eli.

It doesn’t take long into the film to discover that the book that is worth the sacrifice of life is The Holy Bible, not a representation of The Bible, but The Holy Bible. We see how this book has impacted this futuristic prophet; we see his dedication to keeping the book in a safe place. Eli knows the copy of The Bible he has is the last surviving copy from the Apocalypse. He knows what the voice inside him has told him, he lives the message to a large extent while recognizing his own imperfections. He has a love, a passion that is so deep though that others can’t help but notice. We see the power of love, the desire to pray and so many more spiritual themes portrayed in this film. We also see displayed in the Gary Oldman character, Carnegie, the danger that can come about from one desiring to use the Bible to promote their selves in inappropriate ways. There are allusions to the way many religious leaders and politicians have used the Bible to promote their own agenda. Eli understands that and it is the reason he has dedicated himself to the cause of completing the task that the voice, (God) has called him to.

I loved this film as it incorporated things I appreciate. One of those is that while I enjoy looking and searching for Spiritual concepts, my wife, and children who often attend movies with me like to go just for the entertainment value. This was special though, my wife really liked the movie and couldn’t stop talking about the spiritual concepts portrayed in the film.

The Book of Eli doesn’t present the utmost of hope for humanity regarding a post apocalyptical America; it does provide a glimmer of hope though. It presents a God who can work through common men, and do miraculous things to the point that God can perfect and use even that which is not perfect in ways we couldn’t imagine. It also represents a concept of walking by faith to accomplish the purpose God has called us to. We don’t have to be perfect and God can use us, it is in fact in using imperfect people that we can see the majesty and reality of a working God. There is also the representation of the influence we can have on others when we are willing to walk by faith. The impact on society we can all have that can make a difference not just on us, but on society.

The Book of Eli represents a faith in the Bible, a respect for the Bible we haven’t seen in a movie in quite some time. This movie would make a great study for not only people of faith, but also people outside the faith of Christianity. It isn’t just The Bible though that is presented in a positive light, it is a God who still has power, and still finds ways to use human beings beyond their own expectations.

For those that have seen the movie, don’t ruin the epiphany moment for others, let them experience it themselves. As for me, I want to see this one again on the big screen. While not perfect, it was a fun and wonderful experience. One I am glad to repeat again in the near future.

On a scale of 1-10, for the letters in Bible and God I give it a rather enjoyable 8.

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