The Book of Eli (Feb. 5, 2010), Carol Wong
As the scene opens to a post-apocalyptic world of desolation, dust and debris, I thought to myself, "uh-oh, this is going to be a downer." It is filmed in black and white with sepia tones to give it a "gritty" look. At first, it seemed like the introduction is long and drawn out but in retrospect perhaps we were allowed a small peek at the lonely life of Walker, who at first appears to be the only man who has survived a global disaster.
Walker is played by Denzel Washington who carries a sort of gritty nobility even though he is dressed shabbily. Due to lack of water and soap, the only way he can clean himself is with packets of moisturized towelettes with the KFC logo on them. He is a man with a purpose and it turns out he has the very last Bible in his possession. Apparently, Walker is one of the few men that have survived the great disaster that has obliterated the landscape. He is faithful to read the Bible everyday and is able to handle the hoodlums that cross his path because he has an awesome knowledge of martial arts and carries a really big knife. Singlehandedly, he is able to handle most of his opposition until he arrives at a town run by "Carnegie," the character played by Gary Oldman.
Carnegie, with his henchmen, oversees a small town in the middle of nowhere. This town exists because Carnegie has found a source of drinking water. Water is scarce and everyone is desperate for it. Walker has to replenish his water bottle but he also makes a stop in a store to get his I-pod (yes an I-pod) recharged. While waiting for the I-pod, he has a run-in with one of Carnegie's henchman and has to spend a night confined to a room.
During the evening, Walker's food and drink are brought in by the blind girlfriend of Carnegie. Later and at the order of Carnegie, the daughter of Carnegie's girlfriend, Solara, comes to supposedly "entertain" Walker. Walker tells her to get out but she begs him to let her stay otherwise Carnegie will hurt her mother. I thought this scene was very touching because Walker tells Solara to sit down across from him and he tells her to hold out her hands. He leads them in "grace" and they eat, all the while Solara is watching him intently as if trying to understand what just happened. I believe at this point in the movie, Solara's life is forever changed. In holding onto Solara's hands, it felt like something passed between Walker and Solara. It felt as if Walker was imparting something spiritually to Solara at that moment.
When Solara goes back the next morning, she in turn tells her mom to hold her hands while she prays over breakfast. It's as if Solara "gets it" and she realizes this must be a part of living a more meaningful life. However, nothing gets by Carnegie's watchful eyes, and he knows she must have learned the prayer from being with Walker. Solara ends the prayer abruptly but Carnegie adds his own "amen" at the end, so it is obvious he is familiar with Christianity. However, it turns out he wants the Bible because he is interested in gaining power over the people and he believes that the holder of the Bible can wield that power. Even Satan is familiar with Scripture.
Throughout are violence and the movie has an R rating which I would not recommend for family viewing. Sometimes, the scenes are difficult to watch because of the brutality and cruelty of lawless men who are free to do whatever they please. Even, Walker has a moment when he knows he should help but instead tells himself he should "stay on the path." How many times I have whispered “stay on the path” to myself when someone truly needed my assistance? It is difficult sometimes to weed out the truly needy and the ones who are trying to take advantage of the situation. That's when I can ask God to give me discernment.
Solara asked Walker how he knew where to go. He explained to her that he heard a voice as plain as if he was listening to her. This voice told him where to find the Bible, what he was supposed to do with it and where he was supposed to go. He reminds her that it is "by faith" that we know where we're headed. His explanation doesn't make sense at all to Solara but she grows to respect and admire Walker and eventually, becomes a true friend. I am reminded of people in my life who have been like a Walker to me. These Walkers are people who somehow encouraged me in the ways of the Lord by what they shared and how they led their lives. We all make mistakes but it is how we finish the race that counts.
Amos 8:11-12"The days are coming," declares the Sovereign Lord, "when I will send a famine through the land -- not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.