The Book of Eli Movie Review
The Book of Eli was sort of a disappointment in the sense that it did not clearly follow the classical lineage, evolution and modernization of the non-canonical biblical Book of Enoch; as so many classical works before have. Although many elements can be shared between the classical gothic and modern interpretations of the Book of Enoch story, the Book of Eli movie failed to clearly produce the three different settings those being Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. It could be said that the ending of the Book of Eli represented the last two settings but it failed to elaborate on them as the great works have.
Before I begin to mention the important Homeric elements in the Book of Eli movie, I should talk a bit of what I was expecting to find and how the Enoch work has evolved and been modernized by the literary community. Now, I have only read about 15% of Enoch, seeing I have better things to do with my life and don’t give a rat’s ass for prophetic writing. Let us say I read enough of the Enoch work to determine that the Enoch work was later re-interpreted as Dante Alighieri’s fourteenth-century epic poem the Divine Comedy. The Divine Comedy clearly outlines three different settings where by the Homeric main character moves through the Inferno (Italian for “Hell”) is the first scene /region followed by Purgatorio and later Paradiso.
Clockwork Orange a book by novelist Anthony Burgess modernly brings the same protagonist as Enoch and Dante, now called Alex Delarge through three different atmospheres an Inferno, a Purgatorio and form of Paradiso. What of course is Paradiso to fine little Alex, might be hell to others and the real truth behind the Clockwork Orange story is it ticks and tocks backwards. So, the end of Clockwork Orange is really the beginning. Alex starts his life as a smart gifted school boy and is produced into a vicious dark character. In the Clockwork Orange story socially conditioning gives rise to Alex’s mean and brutal ways. This needs to be re-enforced in order to be able to interpret and make a strong comparison to the Book of Eli.
In Clockwork Orange the people whom control or empower society, the elitists / writers / educators / media are given a choice, they can have the nice educated, refined and well cultured little Alex or the vile and wicket Droogie. It is no surprise that the controllers of society will create a Droogie, a bad Alex and so this is likewise well represented in Eli’s character. The controllers will get to choose between an educated and refined Eli or a big bad Eli. Death is always the final outcome when the choice is made to create a bad Eli or bad Alex for that matter; the sly sneaky cat will eventually be eaten by the dog or underdog.
Now, I did not find the reversal or backward moving theme in the Book of Eli movie as demonstrated in Clockwork Orange but many regurgitated elements from Clockwork, Dante’s Divine Comedy and Greek theology were more than demonstrated. The Book of Eli is a hodgepodge of regurgitated Homeric elements. Attempting to understand them all, you will have to read the H3onE3, Universal Facilitator, Universal Sacrifice and Holy Pi book.
So who is Eli? Well the beginning of the movie gives Eli away as being both a Promethan type character and the White Horseman of the Apocalypse with the possession of the bow and arrows. In the same scene we find Eli also represents a dog in the act of killing and eating the hairless cat. Eli is not just any old dog of war but an impotent beast of literary creation. Later the dog / cat theme is re-enforced when a cat hisses at Eli in the townie bar scene. In the bar setting, the cat attempts to keep the dog, Eli from his water bowl. In the Book of Eli, Denzel Washington takes on the role of the Greek god Cerberus.
Cerberus in Greek and Roman mythology, was a three-headed hound, which guards the gates of Hades “hell”, to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping the underworld. One might ask why does Cerberus have three heads and what is the greater meaning, and does this meaning show up in the Book of Eli? Cerberus’s three heads represents one as the greatest writer but he cannot spell or perform formational grammar, the other head represents the greatest musical composer that is tonally made to be deaf and the third head is the greatest artist that sees no beauty in this world and has no passion.
The three headed talent, an artist, writer and composer, all at the highest level is rarely seen in any human and would have been greatly admired by the Classical Greeks and feared by the Romans. This must represent a talent that is holy and as such, someone touched by the gods. A three headed artist who is naturally gifted, but these gifts have been removed, so he could not perform them at the highest level would reside in his own hell. To the Greeks, Cerberus’s guards the gates of hell to keep people whom wasted their talents during life from leaving. In fact this person would be dead to the real world and Eli is well represented throughout the movie as being beyond life. A grim reaper of sorts.
When the Greeks Homerically represented Prometheus in the Greek Theology and evolved him into the Old Testament with the talent of being the greatest writer, artist and composer the Romans produced the New Testament, which prophesied and forced the removal of his three drama talents. In the movie the Book of Eli, Denzel Washington is representing someone whose three headed talent has been forcible removed by the gods, as such he is trapped on a mission.
Are there other important clues which further distinguish Eli as being Cerberus the guard dog of the underworld / hell and the answer is yes? Eli represents someone who is blind and in the last scene his one eye is clearly shown to have a severe diagnosis of cataracts. Living in the darkness of hell would require no sight and you would eventually become blind. This also explains why Eli walks into the “shadows and valleys of darkness” to fight and kill. In the shadows Eli is un-matched in the ability to smell evil, as a hound and here is where he takes life. In the sun light Eli appears to be nice, polite, even weak but when the shadows of darkness are cast over the scene Eli comes alive, full of furor. The shadow is not cast by him, but those who chose to bring out the shadow of darkness. Here they face certain death in the hands of Eli, the Greek god Cerberus.
In Clockwork Orange when Alex is in the cave, “the tunnel” he is strong, invincible and brutal but outside weak, emaciated and a normal human. Reminding you that the Clockwork Orange story clicks backwards, the vicious beating given to the old man in the tunnel can be explained, along with the murder and rape scenes. See, Alex was attacked first, the old filthy drunkard first assaulted little Alex and the beating is rewarded in return; because everyone gets hell in this story, or let us say prophecy.
Another element that distinguished Eli as Cerberus is, he often seeks refuge in a cave or dark places absent of sun light, their he finds food, friends and water. One of the more interesting elements in the Book of Eli is represented in a cave like scene, in fact a silo of some sort. The fascinating object is found in the eagle, Eli’s supper, which he shot and killed earlier with an arrow. Well in the cave, in the darkness and in hell the eagle now appears, cooking over the fire, as a long necked demon; like a dragon. Over the fire the eagle now appears, in its true light, as a demon trying to escape the fire, but no one escapes the fire, hell or Cerberus. Eli turns out to also subsist as a demon killer and who carries, wears or adorns an eagle symbol is a repressive demon. I could go on endlessly on this topic but must move on.
The leader of the town of ghastly people is called Carnegie, he mostlikely represents both institutional education system, “such as Carnegie Mellon University” and the Robber baron (industrialist) himself Andrew Carnegie. Andrew Carnegie was the king of steel, owner and founder of the Carnegie Steel Company, later called U.S. Steel. In the story of Greek creation Zeus plans on destroying the future Iron Age and here Carnegie is shown as completely destroyed, but seeks ruthlessly to re-acquire his wealth and to do so he needs the power of the sacrificial book; the Holy Bible. The Holy Bible for the first time in any media is represented as the true source that empowers the wealthy to enslave the lower, uneducated class. Carnegie suggests that there are two ways to en-slave the un-educated population one is through brutality and physical sacrifice, or his favorite method in the form of metaphysical, literary sacrifice; those found in stories, like Jesus, Prometheus ext.
Carnegie is well represented as a Robber baron when he pursues Eli in an armored bank truck. When Carnegie is chasing Eli his greed forces him to cross a well represented Bolgias. In the Divine Comedy, the Inferno has these ditches called Bolgias, were the sinners are forced to stay for eternity and suffer. Also, hell has bridges that span the Bolgies, Dante and Virgil use these bridges to cross hell on their journey. The Bolgias in the Book of Eli is shown as a dry riverbed that is spanned with a small bridge. The waters of life are absent in the future, and the world is a dust bowl.
Since a broken bridge is shown in the Book of Eli movie we need to locate this reference in the Dante’s Inferno. Well in the Divine Comedy Bolgia 6 has a broken bridge. Dante and Virgil have to enter the ditch to cross this circle, and they find Hypocrites. Who pretends to have virtues and ethical standards. The spirits here are punished for being liars and cheats. This is the very Bolgia Andrew Carnegie should reside in hell.
When Carnegie who has been destroyed by Zeus crosses the dry riverbed in the Book of Eli Movie, what he is doing is leaving his Bolgia. So he must die and soon a festering infection begins in his leg wound. Later when Carnegie shots Eli a lightning bolt is seen to jump across the sky, as a warning to anyone who attempts to kill the real life Prometheus. The punishment for killing the real life Prometheus, Cerberus ,Alex or for that mater Eli is burning to death. Later on in the movie Carnegie is mentioned as having a fever, and the sound of flies can be heard. This represents a real fire that they would in fact experience if killing Eli.
Many examples of Bolgias are shown in the movie; the one with a broken bridge has Eli watching the rape and murder of a couple and he does nothing to stop the incident. In hell, the underworld, this is what happens. Eli sees this as something people here in hell have brought upon themselves. In hell, when the music is over, you turn out the lights. There is no salvation; none will be found, given or offered, or received; once you bring out the shadows of darkness you will receive no mercy.
Lastly, I can explain the meaning behind the rock, punk, boy hanging in the closet who is wearing an eagle on his shirt. In the scene Eli takes his boots as his own. The government maintains political domination of the population by controlling the artistic elements that appear to be on the fringe or bottom of society but are in fact proscribed by the elitist powers. This would include Rock and Roll music and ghetto rap / hip-hop. These media’s promote and suppress the world as a whole, and keep the world from becoming enlightened. They will need to be terminated in the future, if there is to be a future. In the movie, the Book of Eli the hanging Punk rocker is suggesting that the artists that perform socially degrading media, shall walk through the valley and shadows of death with Cerberus. In the end Cerberus will remove their boots, so they can not flee their Bolgias.
When you listen to the Who’s song Pinball Wizard from the Tommy album you hear the words “That deaf, dumb and blind kid / Sure plays a mean pinball!”. The deaf, dumb and blind kid is referring to Cerberus. Deaf so he cannot compose highest quality music, dumb so he cannot write the greatest literature and blind so he cannot make the greatest piece of art. Now, Cerberus hears something completely different he is listening; the words call him to come and take the boots and hang each one in a ditch, grave or Bolgias. This being his mission.