The Book Of Eli is a 2010 English movie directed by Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes with Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Jennifer Beals in lead roles. Set on a post-apocalyptic world with an excess of gory and evil, Eli is a solitary traveler protecting a book that is thought to save the mankind. Read the review at CalcuttaTube.
The Book Of Eli is about the journey of a man named Eli- a journey that is inspired by faith, not by reason. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic USA. Civilization has ceased to exist and lawless disorder prevails everywhere. Food is scarce, so are basic amenities like water. No modern facilities are available anymore, and most of the young people do not know how to read and write. The world seems to have gone back several millennium, expect for the remnants that bear testimony to the yesteryears’ civilizations. People fight for anything, and sometimes for nothing. Trinkets and trivialities are of endless value now. Traps and ambush lie everywhere.
Eli, being on the roads for three decades, has mastered all skills necessary to survive in the perfectly unruly world. After defeating some bandits on the way, Eli reaches a small town informally ruled by Carnegie (Gary Oldman). Carnegie is looking for a certain book and wants to build more towns. His pet men are robbing people everywhere to find the certain book, though they themselves cannot read. In Carnegie’s place there are certain facilities still available that are impossible to find elsewhere. He is mean man who has among others possessions, a blind lady named Claudia (Jennifer Beals) and her daughter Solara (Mila Kunis). He ‘takes care’ of them since always, and emotionally blackmails the mother or daughter by physically assaulting one. In his bar, when Eli gets into row with one of the men and defeats the rogue with his usual proficiency, Carnegie invites him to stay for the night. Claudia brings him some food, and Solara is sent to his room at night to lure him. Eli does not fall for the pretty girl; instead he teaches her how to pray at the dinner table and shares with her his meager meal. The next morning when Eli leaves and Solara goes back to her mother and prays with her, Carnegie becomes sure that Eli has the book he wants. He forces Solara to tell him what the book looked like. Carnegie, with his men, come out to the streets to get the book from Eli. But Eli, an adept gunman, shoots most his opponents down, Carnegie’s leg gets hurt.
On the way, Eli discovers that Solara has been following him. She takes him to a source of drinking water, which she thinks is good bargain for her going with him. Eli tells her that the roads are even more dangerous than she thinks and locks her from the outside and leaves. However, Solara eventually escapes. On the roads, when she is attacked by some people in an ambush, Eli comes to her rescue. In the meantime, Carnegie with his men have started looking for them in their vehicles, fully armed.
Eli and Solara come to a peculiar household, where the inmates invite them for a cup of crummy tea, and the guests to their utter horror discover that the old couple have been eating humans and burying them in their backyard. When they are about to leave, Carnegie’s group arrives. After a gory fight, Carnegie gets hold of Solara and threatens to kill her if Eli does not hand him the Bible. He has been playingthis blackmailing game for a long time, and it works! Even after Solara’s repeated requests not to do so, Eli does hand him the Bible. Carnegie shoots Eli in the stomach and leaves, taking Solara with them. On the way, Solara escapes and drives back to Eli, who with his bodily injury has resumed his journey once again. Solara drives him to the West. Then they take a boat and row to the Alcatraz, where a group of survivors are trying to renovate the world they way it was before destruction, and preserve lost knowledge and wisdom. They meet Lombardi (Malcolm McDowell), one of those dedicated people. Eli requests him to speed things up. Lombardi’s collection did not have any Bible yet, and Eli has just brought in one. Eli recites the holy book from his memory, Lombardi takes dictation, Solara listens. Eli has been reading the book every day for decades. And the book of Eli, a King James version of the Bible is written down.
Back in his town, Carnegie discovers that the Bible he has brought back with him is written in Braille. He asks Claudia to read it, who refuses. She has done everything to please Carnegie for the sake of her daughter till now, but does not have any reason left to abide by Carnegie’s wills any more. She excuses herself saying that she has not read Braille for such a long time that she forgot. She also tells Carnegie how the unruly town folks town has got into his parlor and now there is no one else to save him. He has killed so many lives to achieve the holy book, and now with it right in front of him, it is still a million miles away, she adds. He would have to die without reading the Bible now; since his leg has gone septic.
Eli eventually dies from wounds. As Solara is headed back home once again, we hear Eli’s voice thanking God for his life and Solara’s friendship; requesting the Holy Father to look after his friend just as He had looked after him. All the good things he had done have been God’s grace and the mistakes his fault. Solara puts on Eli’s iPod, and sets on a journey of her own.
The film has got mixed reviews from critics.
The movie has two standpoints- The story of a man fighting to protect his valuable possession, who would go to any extent to protect it. On the book rests the future of mankind. The book also sets the man on a purposeful odyssey of life. The balance and intermingle of these two facts have been maintained beautifully in the film. The purpose of the journey of a blind man, his adherence to the right path, reaching his ultimate destination- all these make ‘The Book Of Eli’ different than many other anals of gory.
The post-apocalyptic backdrop has been portrayed very realistically in the film and serves as a perfect setting for the desperate need for the holy book.
The dialogues are thoughtful and sensitive with small humors present all over. Human instincts, at times of distress, have been greatly explored. The strength of Eli’s character is the dream character of any soulful human being. The man who has saved the holy book for decades from all negativities and has never given up even when his own life has been threatened gives it up for the life another human almost unknown to him. He is indeed the true hero in the story.
The film has several amazing points. We are amazed to see Eli continuing his journey even without the book and getting into the Alcatraz saying that he has a King James version Bible. The audience is left thrilled by Claudia rejection to Carnegie about reading the Braille – a revenge so calm, serene, and yet so bold.
The cast and the sets are superb.
It is a good one to watch if you are not looking for a light drama. The basic story may not be totally new, but the philosophy behind the story is enjoyable.
Review by: SHRABANTI BASU, CT REPORTER.