So, I watched my very first post-apocalyptic movie on Friday. It was called The Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman. It also had a very bit role by Malcolm McDowell and Jennifer Beals, she of long-forgotten Flashdance fame. (She’s not changed as much as I expected, frankly.)
The basic premise is, the world has come to a grinding halt at some point in the past (we learn later in the movie it was something like 30 years previous). A wandering Road Warrior-type man (Denzel Washington) is traveling west (he says this repeatedly) with his sunglasses to deliver something. It’s a book – the last of its kind, actually. (For those of you enamored of the gatekeeper system, here you go – how can it not be the best and necessary way, when the movies show print books?! I mean, ebooks aren’t going to survive the apocalypse!). It’s a King James Bible.
Well, there are many obstacles to overcome on the way from the east to the west. And for 30 years this poor devil has been wandering the barren wastes of the former United States in search of his mystical destination. (By the way, why hasn’t some form of government formed after three decades? Even tribal societies have governing structure. Gimme a break. Matter of fact, if you put two people together for any given amount of time, one of them will become a leader and the other a follower. So wtf?) Yes, you read that right: It’s taken him 30 years to cross the United States. And no, he’s not lost. He even says that.
I still say, with Bugs Bunny’s voice, he should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque.
The movie follows Eli (Washington) as he encounters all the riff-raff the road has to offer. And there are, of course, ONLY unsavory types left. No one of decent character would survive the apocalypse. And certainly people wouldn’t band together to help and protect one another. No. That’s never happened, so why would it happen now?
Gary Oldman’s character is seeking any surviving Bible. That’s right, he happens, just so happens, to be looking for the exact book our wandering anti-hero just so happens to be carrying. And of course, the asking politely ploy won’t work. No, Eli’s on a mission. A mission from God. I don’t think that was in this movie as dialog, but I know I’ve heard some guy in sunglasses say that in a movie at some point. Hm.
There are lots of establishing scenes, and Denzel is a polite killer, so it’s okay. He can be both brutal and soft-spoken, so all’s well. You know you can trust him that way.
God is protecting Eli, too. So cannibals can’t capture and eat him, bullets don’t hit him (until the end, anyway), and the sun only shines clearly in a blue sky where he’s going. There’s a sidekick too, and she’s already killing people before her eighteenth birthday. With shoe laces, no less. No one had to teach her that. You just grow up knowing it after the apocalypse.
You know what else you just know? How to drive. Yeah, you can climb behind the wheel of a vehicle and just… take off. No problem. No starts and stops and squeaks and jerks while you learn to brake and accelerate. Nope, in the post-apocalyptic world, you can just drive away smooth as single-malt Irish whiskey.
Also, you just know how to row a boat (not an easy task), and across the San Francisco Bay, too (also not easy). All the way to Alcatraz Island, no less than a mile from the San Francisco shore. You also instantly become a bad-a$$ when your traveling companion dies. Matter of fact, there’s no explanation how Eli became Chuck Norris, Jr., but it’s okay, because the cannibals you had tea with are packin’ heat. Where they get all that heat, no one knows. But they have a lot of heat.
You can also dine at the top of a nuclear power plant’s cooling towers, too. Just… climb up. Somehow. Without equipment, ropes, grapples, hooks… nothing.
But the one thing you won’t know how to do in the post-apocalyptic world – despite all the things you CAN do, like charge an iPod without the benefit of the correct charging device or electricity for that matter, or use the bathroom without toilet paper – is read. That’s right, lovely blog followers, no one but the ones who survived the “flash” as it’s called, can read. And who’d bother teaching their children or their loved ones how to read? Who needs that in the post-apocalyptic ash?
If my references don’t seem to make sense, it’s because you’ve obviously:
- Never survived an apocalypse, or
- Never had to sit through this movie.
For both, you should be grateful.
Copyright 2011 DarcKnyt, All rights reserved