Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Movie Review: The Book of Eli.

In a post dated September 22, 2009, I marvelled at the audacity of a congregation who planned to plant a church in the heart of Hollywood.

Likewise, I marvel at the audacity of the filmmakers of The Book of Eli who placed the Christian Bible at the heart of a Hollywood movie.

So much does this film elevate these Scriptures, it's almost Bible-idolatry.

Witness one line from Gary Oldman's character who seeks to obtain, for nefarious purposes, the lone copy of the Bible remaining after an apocalypse: "It is a weapon." And it's "aimed right at the heart" of humanity. This gentlemen as well as the film's protagonist, Denzel Washington's Eli both value the Bible's life-changing message that it transforms their lives. Both understand its transformative powers, and they mine it for different ends.

As for Eli, his life has been dedicated for the 30 years since the apocalypse to saving these Scriptures by taking them "West". While this name means divine figure, the movie doesn't fully sculpt a Christ-figure, but in its apparently intentional ambiguity, it comes very close. For this reason, and many others, this film is full of Christian metaphor and imagery. Accordingly, it will appeal to believers who have a high tolerance for filmic violence (e.g. Passion of the Christ).

Simultaneously, with a Sixth Sense-type twist (no spoilers here), visually and aurally stunning atmospherics, and an acting gift from Mr. Washington, it operates on its own as a brilliant Hollywood movie.

Highly recommended.

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