Today I saw “The Book of Eli.” I will try my best to communicate my impressions of the movie without giving away too much or including any spoilers. It’s a movie worth seeing and best seen without too many preconceptions, so if you haven’t seen it I would read this after you have seen it. If you don’t care or have already seen it, the by all means read on.
I’ve always heard in Christian circles the old cliché, “what if people destroyed every Bible, how much of it could we bring back from memory?”, but I’ve never had quite as vivid a picture as this movie paints. I’ve always been told that I need to read my Bible more and honor and appreciate the word of God, but I’ve never seen what that looks like portrayed in so powerful a way. I’ve always known that God always preserves a remnant, but I never thought I would see that truth depicted in a secular film. The scriptures declare that God will not permit one letter of His Word to pass away and this movie focuses on that point.
At times the movie treats the Bible as just another great piece of religious human literature, but as a whole, I felt that it treats it as something more. There are characters who see it as a tool or weapon, the opiate to control the masses. Others see it as a great work of civilization that needs preservation. But the tone of the movie is that this book is something more, a beacon of hope and truth that is supernaturally preserved. Not an idea that I would have thought to see coming out of Hollywood.
One of my favorite genres is the whole post-apocalyptic story line and this movie does a great job with it. A little more violent and crude than I would typically go to see, but still good. The special effects were well done and not overused. The acting was superb. It had a real plot, with character development and everything. It moved along at a good pace and the twists kept you guessing. The sound track was stunningly done and perfectly suited to the mood and emotion of the film.
The movie challenged me on three levels. Firstly, how much of the scriptures do I know. Could I recite the entire book from memory? (I can’t do one chapter! I’m not even sure I’ve read every chapter!) Secondly, do I value it the way I should? Do I protect it and honor it? Do I read it every day? Finally, do I follow what it teaches?
Eli, in talking about the book to one of the other characters, states that he got so wrapped up in the mission that he forgot to do what the book taught. The main teaching that he focuses on is doing more for others than you would for yourself. It’s the second greatest commandment. The movie emphasizes in a couple scenes that the mission has become the defining aspect of his life and he focuses on it, excluding almost everything else, though he is not totally lost as he shows compassion in some scenes and struggles with not doing so in others. He does realize in the end that he should have done more for his fellow-man and repents of the evil that he has done along the way. I guess you could claim that he has obeyed the greatest commandment for the last thirty years by taking the book to where God told him to take it.
My prayer is that this movie stirs up believers to remember God’s Word and it’s importance in a way that moves them to actively begin reading it and living it out. God desires that we know Him and He has given us His Word to help us to do that, but so often we leave it on the shelf or the bed side table and never pick it up to read it and learn about Him. It is also my prayer that it would stir unbelievers to take a look, or a second look, or a deeper look at this Book that, to the character Eli, is worth thirty years of dedication and is a source of hope and truth. As they examine it I pray that they would begin to see the one who spoke it and that they would be drawn to the God who created them and loves them.