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A Reader’s Response to “The Book of Eli.”

One reader wrote in about “The Book of Eli.” I love his response and you can see how passionate he is about the message of the movie–things that you and I may have missed on. We’ll give him an identity–we’ll call him, “The Scholarly Engineer.” Thank you for your refreshing response Scholarly Engineer.

You see, the Book of Eli is nothing more than a modern day analogue of the stories of the past. You may or may not recall it, but in the time period shortly following World War II, there was a huge movement for personal rights. After seeing Nazi Germany and Socialist Russia, the people of America and other free nations became very afraid of one thing – oppression. Out of that spawned cultural revolutions, such as beatniks and hippies. Many stories, and parodies of stories, were made to fulfill one of two purposes: spread the idea or capitalize on it. Books and movies were made, such as 1984, Soylent Green, Sleeper, and Fahrenheit 451.

People were very afraid of losing their freedoms, rights, and even identities. These stories took place in not-too-far-off futures where “big brother” was always watching. Perhaps these were all made in an effort to keep the people aware of the government so that they did not fall victim to it, but they were all widely accepted and popular.

In these modern times, we face a new fantastical disaster: the apocalypse. People are no longer afraid of losing their identities, but rather their lives altogether. You’ll easily notice a trend of stories and movies that depict the end of mankind. With this age of climate change, everybody wants everybody else to wake up and save mankind from a catastrophe.

In Fahrenheit 451, the oppressive government burns all the books of mankind in order to keep men uninformed of culture and identity, where as in The Book of Eli, mankind burns books in an attempt to deter its extinction. In Soylent Green, the oppressed are forced to eat the dead in ignorance, while in The Book of Eli, the dead are eaten out of necessity.

I believe that this movie is a very intelligent criticism of the change of mankind’s fears. This would slip past the normal person as merely an action movie in a post apocalyptic world. Perhaps I am seeing connections where there aren’t any, but I believe that The Book of Eli could be interpreted as a parody of past stories.

Perhaps the movie is reminding us of the past books and movies in order to remind us what they taught. In this day and age, we no longer fear the government, but rather want to protect it more than ever. Movies like Live Free or Die Hard and Eagle Eye teach us to blindly protect our government. In the end, we may fall victim to what the past decades vehemently warned us against.

Perhaps this movie is criticizing the fact that our current generations are ignorant of the past, and that we’ll buy the same book our parents did if the cover were changed just a little. It’s the easiest thing to change a past trend and put a new face on it for the next generation to eat up. Maybe this is a sign that the oppression warned about is already occurring. The ignorance of the populous allows the powerful to manipulate it. It may be for money now, but money is just a form of power, and a sign that greater oppression is yet to come.

And that is the true identity of The Book of Eli revealed. I may be an engineer, but I am quite the scholar.

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Film Fridays: “The Book of Eli” Review

The first movie that I saw with Denzel Washington in it was the Civil War era piece, “Glory.” Since then, I’ve been seeing Washington in many leading roles. He’s played many roles, from real-life figures (“Malcom X,” “Remember the Titans”) to military men (“Crimson Tide,” “Courage Under Fire”) to detectives (“Training Day,” “Inside Man”). He’s a strong actor who plays strong roles. It’s not a surprise that in “The Book of Eli,” Washington takes on another role: bad ass warrior. Come on, it’s Denzel Washington. You can’t be disappointed by him, right?

What I Expected

After watching the trailer, I remembered feeling a sense of familiarity akin to “I Am Legend,” “The Road” and even “Terminator Salvation.” Here’s yet another movie about a post-apocalyptic world and the human survivors dealing with the aftermath. Scenes of the world’s devastation, of broken-down buildings, and humans living in isolation–been there, done that. What more can they add? What can they do to spin it around?

What It’s About

In a not-so-distant future, the world’s turned into a barren wasteland where it’s pretty much every man and woman for him or herself. A lone warrior-type named Eli (Washington) must trek his way across America while protecting a sacred book that apparently holds the key to save all of humanity.

You’ll Like

The stylism–The shade of the movie is all purposeful, just like in “The Road.” In fact, this movie is just like it but with more violence. You’ll notice the dreary sky, the smoke, the shades of grey, and you may feel like you’re suffocating with them.

The action sequences–there’s a couple that you’ll definitely enjoy and that solidifies Washington’s bad-assness (yes, I know that’s not a word). It’s brutal, grotesque, like “Kill Bill” with a slight sense of sadistic humor like in “Inglorious Basterds.”

The plot–you may think the following is a spoiler, but you could have guessed this while watching the trailer. He’s protecting the Bible, which is apparently the last one on Earth–come on, it has to be the last one in order to make protecting it that more desperate. Now, I don’t want to reveal any more spoilers, but let’s just say it’ll remind you of “Left Behind” meets “Fahreinheit 451” and how knowledge is truly power.

The villain–Gary Oldman is just genius. He’s a versatile actor, even if he often gets type-casted as playing villain roles. I only wish he was even more cruel. But the whole theme of Good versus Evil was there.

The eye candy–Mila Kunis. I’m in love with her. Not only is she beautiful, she can actually ACT, something Megan Fox cannot. Skip to the next bolded section because of this spoiler alert…don’t look if you don’t want to know…ready?…There was an almost-rape scene involving Kunis, almost unbearable to watch, and I could feel that manly protective side of me wanting to beat up the guys.

You’ll Dislike

The pace–it was incredibly slow. There were some parts where I could have used a faster pace. Maybe that’s what the directors were trying to accomplish, to make you feel like you’re walking with them. Boy, there was a lot of walking.

The originality–as soon as I saw the cars and the motorcycles driving through a desert, I immediately thought: “Mad Max.” And of course, some of the human beings have turned to cannibalism–that’s not spoiling much. In a post-apocalyptic world where animals are scarce, what else is there to eat? Thank God there was only a hint of it.

The plot–oh come on, I wanted more. For a movie that’s like an end-of-the-world Western, where the heck is the showdown?

The WTF moment–you’ll know what I’m talking about once you SEE it. The movie dropped hints all over, but I don’t think I am convinced. I just cannot commit to the explanation. Maybe you will. Turn to the next bolded section because you may think it’s a spoiler, even though it’s predictable…okay…ready?…let’s just say the real ending was reminiscent of “I Am Legend.”

Rating

I’m torn about this movie, pretty split. I think some of you will like it (the action sequences), and some of you will overtly hate it (maybe for it’s overtly religious theme). It wasn’t a bad movie, but it wasn’t a good movie either. Even Denzel Washington’s performance couldn’t redeem it. Maybe I’m already sick of all this post-apocalyptic crap in movies. But, it was a lot of fun to watch, especially with all those action scenes! I’d give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

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