I have never been the kind of a person who will stand in line 4 hours to see a movie. I remember my youngest daughter waiting in line for hours and hours to be the first in to see Avatar when it came out. Not me. One of my favorite things to do is to wait for about a month till all the buzz on a particular film has died down, wait until it leaves the main screen, and declare a date night and grab the wife and head down to the Dollar Show for a night out at the movies.
Not that I am some type of a tight wad, I like this old theater we go to, it reminds me over the ones I used to go to as a kid, so it is a bit nostalgic for me. And yes we still we still go see movies at the “Cinemark” when they come out, but sometimes the Dollar Show, without all the crowds, in the small theater has an atmosphere that is quaintly appealing.
Such was the case last night. I had not seen the Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington, and after a quick run to the gym with my wife, she and I decided to catch the late show at the Dollar Theater. I had heard a lot about the movie with its Christian messages and parallels, so I went to see for myself.
I went in with the attitude (as I do with all films of this sort); whatever thought process I have going in, is what I am going to come out with. So I decided not to have any preconceived notions, and to be open minded, sit back and watch the movie, and see if I could learn something in the obvious or maybe subtle messages in the movie.
If you cross the movie “I Am Legend” with the movie, “The Ten Commandments” then you’ve kind of have an idea what The Book of Eli is about.
The Book of Eli” as both “a story about faith” and “a story about good and evil” which in many ways parallels to real life. Denzel Washington plays a soldier of God.
Early on in the movie I was curious as to what the Book Eli was carrying actually was. The surprise to me was that it was actually “The Bible”. Typically, in the movies made by Holly-weird, writers skirt around God and the Bible as not to offend the majority of movie goers. They typically make up some fictitious, ancient book of lost knowledge that is “sacred”. But this movie does not do that at all, it straight out tells you what the book is — it is the Bible.
In the movie there is a man in a post apocalyptic world who’s been given a message in a voice that he hears from God that tells him to take this book, the Bible, and travel across the country and to deliver it out West. There is a Biblical message in the Book of Eli, despite the violence, and that is a story about a man of God who has unwavering faith in what he knows and understands God has called him to do. He honors that call, and God with his life and follows his Masters will in spite of all the dangers he faces along the journey. Eli’s faith is unwavering, strong and steadfast as he faces many hardships, temptations and trials.
There is a supporting character, Solara. She is an uninvited young lady that joins Eli in his quest to deliver the Bible out west. There is a scene in the movie, when she begins to ask questions of Him about his faith and inner strength. Eli tells her “I walk by faith, not by sight”. He indicates to her that was has kept him strong all these years is His inner commitment to follow God’s will. He says he knows who he heard, he knows what he heard, he knows he’s not crazy, and he knows he never would have made it without divine help. He reads the Bible every day and can quote scripture by heart. She indicates to Eli that she cannot read, and she has never heard of the Bible, so she asks him to read some passages to her. He begins quoting the Psalms 23 to her, and she says she is moved by the beauty of the passage. During this scene my mind connected to
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
On the way home with the movie fresh in my mind, One thing I pondered was the interesting spiritual journey of Eli. I know that this may sound corny, but I related it to the old story of good against evil, a story about a man who has heard the voice of God. This story is found from Genesis to Revelation. There are spiritual connotations and spiritual aspects of this story and of this man, which I could embrace.
The character that Denzel played was almost like an Old Testament prophet. One had a sense he could have been an Elijah, Moses or a Noah. Like those men Eli was a nobody, a man who came from nowhere and had nothing special about him. The Word of God is filled with men such as this, they are the kind of men that God usually calls for His grand purpose. The character Eli symbolized the great men of faith in the Bible in the aspect that he had been called to a mission, was given a journey by God, and he was living it, acting upon it, and abiding by the Word of God.
Denzel Washington, himself the son of a Pentecostal preacher quotes, “”The fact of the matter is the guy (Eli) is by himself,” “I think in his journey—a personal journey, spiritual journey—the fact that he has been given this charge—job—to protect this book. Washington adds: “And so I think the difference is, you know, there’s the classic battle of good and evil in this, God and the devil.
There is another man played by Gary Oldman. He is desperately looking for a copy of the Bible as none remain in this post apocalyptic world. He knows that the Bible can change the world because of its true persuasive effects on people. He wants to get His hands on one which he plans to use for his own purpose and evil prosperous ends. At this point, I will state that there are a thousand parallels from this character that come to my mind, that I could bring up in relation to the church, religion, the Body of Christ, and the secular world, but I will leave it at that.
And in the end, as it is always in God’s Word, God always wins. The Truth is delivered.
There are questions as a believer that quickened to my own heart from watching the Book of Eli.
One was: “How far am I willing to go in response to God’s call.
Another was: “What kind of sacrifices will I make in my life to defend the Word of God?”
And one more: “At what lengths and hardship will I go to deliver the Word of God”?
And the last one: The character Eli could quote the whole Bible word for word, how many chapters can I even quote in their entirety?
This movie, The Book of Eli is not the Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, or the Greatest Story ever Told. But one theme that I found was an easy conclusion to draw from the movie was, The Book of Eli is comparable to the situation that believers find ourselves in – We are trying to follow God’s will in a fallen world.