The Book of Eli also known as “Le livre d’Élie,” “Le livre d’Eli,” “Knjiga odresitve,” “O eklektos,” “Книга Илая”
Reviewed by: Laura Busch
Western Action Adventure Drama
1 hr. 58 min.
Year of Release:
January 15, 2010 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
DVD: June 15, 2010
How do we know the Bible is true? Answer
ACCURACY—When we say that the Bible is the Word of God, does that imply that it is completely accurate, or does it contain insignificant inaccuracies in details of history and science? Answer
How can the Bible be INFALLIBLE if it is written by fallible humans? Answer
Is the Bible truth or tabloid? Answer
INTERNAL HARMONY—Answers to a skeptic’s questions about whether the Bible’s internal harmony is truly evidence of its divine inspiration—Read
Depravity of mankind
Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer
How good is good enough? Answer
FEAR, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer
Who was ELI in the Bible? Answer
Hope and salvation
Blindness in the Bible
“Some will kill to have it. He will kill to protect it.”
review updated January, 23, 2010
Imagine a world ravaged by the horrors of war, where shelter, clean drinking water, and food, are rare luxuries, and the freedom to read God’s Word is something that many of these post-war citizens have never known. This is the post-apocalyptic world that protagonist, Eli (Denzel Washington), has trekked his way through over the past 30 years, fighting off bloodthirsty gangs that rule the roads of this lawless civilization. Eli is a Godly man, who is guided by his faith and call to protect and preserve the only copy of the Bible that survived the war. As he journeys across the desolate wasteland that is now the western United States, Carnegie (Gary Oldman), the power hungry despot who rules over a makeshift town, apprehends him. Carnegie wishes to seize the last copy of the Bible for his own selfish purposes, so that he can misuse God’s Word to gain ideological control over this war-torn society. Eli and Solara (Mila Kunis), a young woman from the town, guard the Bible from Carnegie, as they attempt to transport it into the hands of people who will respect and revere this sacred text, which holds the key to saving humanity.
“The Book of Eli” has an incredible Biblical message, which tells the story of Eli’s unwavering faith as he honor’s God with his life and follows God’s will no matter how hard the journey may be. We see Eli’s faith remain steadfast as he faces many trials and tribulations, including: gangs of bloodthirsty criminals, the power hungry Carnegie, and a lack of basic necessities, such as fresh water, food, and decent shelter.
Solara, a young woman whom Eli meets from the town, was born into this war torn society and knows nothing of the Bible or Christ’s teachings. She cannot even read. Eli mentors Solara and teaches her how to pray. When Solara asks Eli what the world was like before the war, he tells her about people’s wastefulness and how they wouldn’t think twice about throwing away things that people would kill for today. Later, Solara teaches her mother, Claudia (Jennifer Beals) how to pray.
After Solara joins Eli on his mission to preserve the Bible, she inquires about Eli’s inner-strength. He explains to her that he walks by faith and his commitment to follow God’s will has kept him strong. Later in the film, Solara asks Eli to read some passages from the Bible to her, so he recites several passages that he has memorized, and the beauty of the words move her.
“The Book of Eli’s” depiction of the depravity and chaos that reigns supreme in this Godless society that knows virtually nothing of Christ’s teachings, serves as a warning to those who wish to eradicate Christian principles from our modern culture.
What advice do you have for new and growing Christians? Answer
“The Book of Eli” is a well-crafted film with stunning cinematography, a haunting score, and moving performances from the ensemble cast. Denzel Washington especially brings the amazing character of Eli to life with his passionate performance. All of these theatrical elements come together to tell a refreshing story of unwavering faith and obedience to God.
While “The Book of Eli”’s respect for the sanctity of God’s Word and the depiction of Eli’s obedience to God is refreshing and inspiring, especially in a mainstream film, brutal violence and language are pervasive throughout. “The Book of Eli” has a dark tone to it, and the directors’ (The Hughes Brothers—Albert and Allen) portrayal of this corrupt society is made more poignant through their use of gloomy sepia-tones.
The graphic violence depicted in this film may be disturbing to some viewers and was at times hard to watch, but it should be noted that Eli acts out in violence only in self-defense or to protect the Bible. Eli chops a highway robber’s hand off, and the bloodied hand can be seen lying on the ground as blood spurts out of it. Eli then proceeds to stab this man in the stomach, and he falls to his knees and dies. In several scenes, Eli must fend off a band of highway robbers, who are wielding, metal pipes, large knifes, and a chainsaw. We see blood, limbs, and heads fly as Eli fends off this band of men (this scene is largely shot in silhouette). Later in the film, this gang of robbers captures Solara, and they beat her violently and attempt to rape her (no nudity is shown), however Eli kills the men just before they can get to her. There are several scenes throughout the film where Eli and other men are involved in bloody gunfights. Men can be seen being shot in various parts of their bodies, bleeding, suffering, and dying. Machine guns and other explosives are used in another large fight scene. Several men are brutally stabbed throughout the film and fall to their deaths.
Other disturbing elements in “The Book of Eli” include several discussions of cannibalism, which further speaks to the depth of the depravity and desperation of this Godless civilization. At the beginning of the film. Carnegie forces Solara to offer herself up to Eli as a prostitute, as leverage to try to get Eli to relinquish the Bible to him. When Solara comes to Eli’s bedroom door to offer herself to him, he refuses and tries to send her away, but Solara pleads with him to let her stay or Carnegie will hurt her mother. Eli takes pity on Solara and lets her stay. He takes the opportunity to teach her how to pray and tell her about God.
A woman, who is being held by the band of robbers, wears very low-cut and cleavage bearing clothing in several scenes.
Some of the things that Eli must do to survive may be disturbing to some viewers. Eli kills a cat with an arrow, picks up the dead animal, and forcefully pulls the arrow out of the cat. He later roasts and eats the cat. Eli also removes shoes from a man who has been hung to death, and he puts them on his feet.
There are approximately 12 uses of the f-word, and the Lord’s name is profaned approximately two times in the film.
While I was disappointed to see the end of the film momentarily stray from its powerful Biblical message by subtly implying that the Bible is equal to other religious texts, this implication pales in comparison to Eli’s last amazing act of faith at the end of the film. Eli’s last act of faith and his obedience to God is powerful and moving and will leave every Christian in the theater wanting to renew their commitment to their faith.
Summary and Recommendations
Despite the heavy violence, mature thematic content, and offensive language, “The Book of Eli” is a thought-provoking film that has much to offer mature audiences, as it asks viewers to reflect upon their own commitment to Christ. Eli’s steadfast commitment to his faith and obedience to God no matter what the price, embodies Christ’s words in Luke 9:23,
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.