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FILM: The book of Eli

Updated on January 4, 2015


The movie begins with a dead man lying on the road. The cameras then zooms in and the audience realises that the man had sustained a gunshot at his head. A few paces from the man lay a burned car, with the skeletons of the driver at the rear end of the car. Then a man, probably black, comes into sight, walking over the road. He is Eli, the main actor in the movie. The first horrid pictures immediately notify the audience about the world of Eli. A world that is ravaged by terror, destruction, death and hostility. As Eli walks on the road, the director of the film wishes to let the audience take a closer view of how the world has been completely destroyed. There are many burned cars, destroyed building and smoke emanating from different places.

As Eli continues with his journey, we learn that the town he is walking through has some inhabitants. All of them seem uncivilised. The ruler of the town turns out to be Carnegie, a man who controls the people by regulating the town’s scarce resources such as food and water. In order to gain access to both food and water, one has to trade with some of their belonging. It is a batter trade, exchanging a commodity for another commodity.

As the film continues, we learn that Eli is on a mission, travelling from east to west. We realise that Eli has been travelling for the last thirty years in a mission to deliver the last bible in the world. Eli says that he was commissioned by God to take the last bible to Alcatraz, which is the centre of civilization and scientific development. In the movie, Alcatraz turns out to be the centre of civilization because there are many printing machines, translators and other scholars.

After Carnegie realises that Eli is carrying the last bible in the world, he wishes to own the book. Carnegie believes that the book was used in the past to control people. Therefore, he wishes to own the book in order to keep on controlling the people of the two, whom he has already ruled with fear and mistreatments. However, Eli clearly knows his mission. He fails to give in to the demands of Carnegie and tries to flee from the town. Enraged with furry, Carnegie sent an army of men to kill Eli and retrieve the bible. However, the director of the film portrays Eli as a talented killer. He kills when threatened, probably for self-defence. Eli’s skills on martial arts and sharp shooting are portrayed when he kills all the men that were hunting him down. At one point, Carnegie attempts to lure Eli into prostitution. He sends Solara, his own daughter to copulate with Eli and then steal the bible. Fortunately, Eli resists the temptation and reads some bible verses to her. The message contained in the bible is so unique and calming to such an extent that Solara wishes to run with Eli into the wilderness. After enduring much violence and brutality, Eli manages to deliver the bible to Alcatraz. The bible s then translated and written in many languages. It is later printed. However, the movie ends with disbelief from the audience because the printed bible bears the mark of the Quran at its cover.

Themes Contained in the movie

In the book of Eli, both Allen and Elbert portray several themes. However, the themes are not fully revealed and the audience is left to contemplate them in their minds. What the directors of the movie did was to come up with a script that intrigue into the hearts of audience and leaves them with many questions concerning the movie. For example, the movie contains themes of politics, religion and spirituality, and dedication to one’s duty.

The theme of politics

In the movie, the theme of politics is enhanced with the character of Carnegie. Just as in politics, Carnegie is so much obsessed with power. At first, he rules the town’s people by regulating their access to food and water in the town. In fact, this theme of politics is accompanied with human exploitation because Carnegie exploits the town’s people by regulating their water, which is their natural resource Therefore, in his quest for power and dominance, Carnegie wishes to keep on controlling the people with the book of Eli, which is the bible. The idea of Carnegie controlling the people with shortages of water and signifies exactly what most of the modern day leaders do. Many are the times when leaders create false shortages of the basic goods in order to increase the prices of the basic commodities. Similarly, other Super power countries threaten to impose economic sanctions to developing countries if they fail to submit to their wishes. Therefore, through Carnegie, the theme of politics, in inquest for power and dominance, is enhanced in the movie.

The theme of religion and spirituality

Religion is driving force that serves as a consolation for the poor and the meek in societies. In the book of Eli, the theme of religion is portrayed through Eli. In the entire movie, we see that Eli keeps on reading the bible and even manages to understand the bible verses in his mind. He does it in a religious manner to such an extent that the audience comes realise that Eli is a Christian, carrying the bible. In addition, the theme of spirituality is enhanced via the character of Solara. Before she met Eli, Solara lived in a world that did not know God. However, when Eli reads and quotes some bible verses for her, her soul is somehow redeemed from paganism. She is delighted by the word of God and wishes to escape with Eli on a mission of saving the bible. In addition, Eli asserts that whatever he does, he does it in faith. Therefore, through faith, the director of the movie wishes to enhance the theme of religion, more so Christianity, because faith is the main foundation of religion.

The theme of dedication to one’s duty

Both Allen and Elbert portray Eli as a loyal man. He is loyal to God because he dedicates his entire life, for a period of thirty years, to deliver the bible to Alcatraz. He is even o much dedicated to his task of protecting and transporting the bible to an extent that he would kill for it. In the movie, Eli made sure that whoever touched the bible, or wished to take the bible from him, met with death. For example, when Carnegie’s men attacked him, he killed all of them with a gun and a knife. Worst of all, Eli chopped off the hand of a man who tried to steal the bible and proceeded to stab him with a knife. However, it should be noted that Eli killed in self-defence. Therefore, through the acts of Eli, the directors aim to enhance the theme of dedication to one’s duty. Eli was so much dedicated to his duty to an extent that he is able to resist from the temptations of Solara.

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Special effects: the use of music in the movie

However, it is imperative to realise even if the film is Christian oriented, it contains scenes that are offensive. For example, there is violence and brutality everywhere. In brutal manner, Eli kills when threatened. Horrible scenes of people dying, blood trickling from their wounds after being stabbed with a knife or shot with a gun dominate the whole film. Similarly, women are brutally taken advantage of by men. Some women in the movie are sexually harassed. However, the most horrible scenes in the movie appertain to cannibalism. Eli meets with an old couple, Mary and George, living in fortified house at the middle of wastelands. After seeing the hands of Mary shaking, Eli realises that the two are starving. Upon looking outside at the back of the house via an opening, Eli sees some open graveyards. The dreadful look on his face, mixed with emotions of pity directly tells that audience that hunger had turned the old couple into cannibals.

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    • Daniel Avedon profile imageAUTHOR

      Musembi Daniel Nduva 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Definitely, the book of Eli is very difficult to cheer a person's faith


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