Rich and powerful religious leaders in our time may have a copy of the Bible but they cannot understand it. The Words are sealed. The book is locked. And only the wise can open and understand it.
By Joyce Esteban
It is the desire to attain life’s purpose and the faith and commitment that goes with it that led Eli (Denzel Washington) to start and eventually finish a long journey.
His quest begins after the war when an apocalyptic event came to him. It is when a voice guides him to find a book buried under a rubble. That same voice has instructed him to bring the book to the west with an assurance that he will be protected along the way. Thus, his journey begins.
In his search for water to quench his thirst on the journey, he passes by an old, dilapidated town where he kills a group of bikers. He also meers the town’s overseer, Carnegie (Gary Oldman), who is in search of a book which he believes to be a source of a certain power that can make him great and more powerful. Carnegie has assigned a group of his men to look for that book every day. Carnegie is impressed by Eli’s wisdom as well as his abilities and fighting skills. He encourages him to stay in the town, but Eli refuses and insists to stay for just a night. After Carnegie’s blind concubine Claudia (Jennifer Beals) gives Eli food and drink, Carnegie asks Solara (Mila Kunis) to seduce him to make him stay. Eli turns him down. Instead, he invites Solara to dine with him and start the meal with a prayer of thanks.
The next morning, before Claudia and Solara eat their breakfast, Solara prays with her mother, just as like how Eli prayed with her lthat ast night. Carnegie overhears the prayer and forces Solara to tell him what book Eli is reading. Solara says that she doesn’t know but forms the shape of a cross in with her hands, remembering the front cover of the book she saw. Carnegie then realizes that the traveler Eli has a copy of the book that he desired for so long.
It is the book that was all burned out during the time of war. Eli then sneaks out and Carnegie tries to stop him while his men shoot Eli as they follow him. Eli is able to avoid the gun fires, even hitting some of Carnegie’s men, and even Carnegie in his leg. Eli is able to escape and continue his quest. Solara follows him, wanting to accompany him in his travel and to escape the town. Eli agrees on the condition that she will tell him where the town’s water supply is. After that, Eli traps her and continues with his travel alone.
Solara is able to escape the trap, however, and follows Eli but she is then set up by two men as she tries to help a frail woman. As she struggle, Eli came and kills the men with his arrows. He has no choice but to bring Solara with him.
In the middle of the arid land, they see a strange house, occupied by a couple, Martha and George. After they fall into a trap by the door, they were invited for a tea by the woman. Eli believes that the man and the woman are cannibals as shown by their trembling hands, and the graves at the backyard.
Before they can escape, Carnegie and his men found them. George opens up a hidden huge chest in the sofa containing powerful weapons and ammunition. Exchange of gun fires continues, causing the death of some of Carnegie’s men and of George and Martha as well. Eli and Solara are captured.
Eli then is compelled to give the book, which is the Bible, when Carnegie threatens to kill Solara. Carnegie shoots Eli before they leave, carrying Solara with them. But she is able to escape and drives back to help Eli. The two continue traveling towards west until they reach a bridge and row towards shore in a secluded island inhabited by survivors of the war. They are allowed to enter the island when Eli said that he has the copy of the King James Version of the Bible. The bible he referred to, however, is in his memory.
Carnegie returns to his town carrying the Bible. He calls an engineer to unlock the book for him. As it opens, the words are found written in Braille but Claudia, the blind concubine, refuse to read it for him. He gets upset because he would soon die without even being able to read the Bible.
Meanwhile, Eli dictates the Bible from memory to Lombardi, the curator of the pre-war artifacts in the island. He recites it word for word as he remembers it from reading it every day in the last thirty years of his life. He is able to finish dictating before he dies of his wounds. Copies of the Bible are printed after then. Solara takes Eli’s weapon and choose to go back home.
The film directed by the Hughes brothers, written by Gary Whitta, and starring Denzel Washington, among others reminds me of the verse in Daniel 12:9-10 that says –
“And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.”
Eli was the only man during that time who was able to read the Bible in its entirety. It took him so many years to memorize. Even though Carnegie was able to get the Bible, and open the lock with the help of an engineer, he has not triumphed to understand it because it was written in Braille, in a manner that he can’t understand – because he is wicked.
Eli’s understanding of the Holy Book can be compared to that of The TruthCaster, Bro. Eliseo Soriano. Besides memorizing God’s Words in his heart, he is the one gifted with understanding of God’s Words. Rich and powerful religious leaders in our time may have the copy of the Bible but they cannot understand it. The Words have its seal. It is locked. And only the wise can open and understand it. Bro. Eli fully understands it and he makes it very clear to people he is teaching.
Eli’s long journey carrying and protecting the Book can be compared with Bro. Eli’s determination to spread the Word of God in all nations.
Eli’s faith drives him to struggle and continue with his journey while carrying and protecting the book without being hindered by different obstacles. This can be compared with Bro. Eli’s desire to spread the Word of God in all nations. His quest to make the gospel known continues. Not minding the persecutions, the malicious tales being invented by his opponents; crossing over mountains, seas and lands to fulfill his purpose in life and follow God’s commandment to spread the Word. That is how Bro. Eli walks all through his life.
As what Eli said, “I walk by faith and not by sight… “The Lord is my shepherd and I shall not want,” the same is true with Bro. Eli, They both learn to master their way of life, having faith with the Ultimate Power believing that He will give them everything they need in their journey to follow His will.
But there is one thing I know that Eli differs from Bro. Eli that we Christians know. Eli said, “In all these years I’ve been carrying it and reading it every day; I got so caught up in keeping it safe that I forgot to live by what I learned from it.”
Bro. Eli is entirely different from Eli in this aspect. As Bro. Eli understands and accepts the word of God written in the Bible, the Word serves as his guiding light as he travels through life. He doesn’t just keep the Word in the Book but keep it in his heart and let it manifest through his deeds.
Most of the scenes were shot in dark lights, arid deserts and in old dilapidated town, and Eli’s travels by feet depict a long journey that is not so easy. Several armed men, the cannibal couple, and Carnegie represents the obstacles and foes that Eli was able to overcome to fulfill his life’s desire. Continuing to walk towards the west despite of the wound on his stomach shows his will power and faith to continue with his struggle.
Although the first few minutes of the film may tend to be boring, the movie gets interesting as it continues.
With its Biblical passages and character of the lead, any member of Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) organization cannot help but compare it to their leader of the same name, Bro. Eli Soriano.