Book of Eli | Notes & Review

Posted on September 13, 2010

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The Book of Eli [R].

Perhaps I am reading way too much into this, but this one main interpretation came to mind:

ESSENES. From what we know of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essenes — the Jewish separatist sectarian group that built their community in the desert on the north shore of the Dead Sea (Salt Sea) — were extremely cautious about the protection and duplication of the Holy Book. Ink containers were found in what is believed to be a “copy room” of the settlement. Is The Book of Eli a modern parable for how much these ancient Jews loved and cared for the text?

And then a couple sentiments and themes that seemed prevalent.

1. In the “old world,” people had more than they needed. They had no idea what was precious. Somehow, that which was ultimately precious had been lost, and Eli’s job was to return it to society.

2. “It’s not a book. It’s a weapon.” This quote still stands out to me as the most poignant and loaded of the film. In some ways, the statement is absolutely true in the destructive sense in how it is wielded. In Biblical language, the “Word of God” is the “sword of the Spirit.” In philosophical terms, books, the carriers of ideas and beliefs, are the most powerful weapons in the world as they are what change people’s hearts and minds.

3. Thanks to a friend for helping me “see” this, there seems to be the theme of the blind being the the ones who truly see, and those who see are blind to the truth that could set them free. (My friend mentioned that Eli is blind).

4. Depending upon the spelling, “Eli” may mean “my god” from Psalm 22 (not from 1 Samuel).

5. I’m still perplexed as to why the Bible was placed on a shelf next to the Tanakh and Koran at the end of the film. Especially since the Tanakh is the Bible–at least 2/3rds of it. Of course, that could simply be good production; pose a scene without explanation and leave it to the observer.

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