The Book of Eli is a movie about a guy named Eli, who has to take a book across the country at the behest of the voice he hears. (Some spoilers after the jump)
Eli spends 30 years wandering the now post apocalyptic United States before finally winding up in a town run by Carnegie (played by Gary Oldman). Carnegie knows what the book is, and wants it for himself, so he can twist the words and make people follow him. Eli, of course, wants to keep wandering the desert. Lots of people die, and eventually our hero delivers the book to a printing press where they can reprint the bible for all to read.
I’m picturing a different version of this movie though. One in which the book isn’t a King James Bible, but something a bit more twisted.
The movie opens in much the same way, with our hero Eli walking through the wastes, where he is attacked by bandits. He slowly steps into the shadows of a crumbling overpass, the bandits follow him, thinking him a prey. Then suddenly, we hear the sound of cracking of bones, and the wet, squishing sound of flesh being torn apart. The bandits look around. Eli has not moved, but one of their number is now missing.
A scream, followed by the sound one can only describe as an over ripe melon being dropped on pavement. Another Bandit is missing. Then another, and another, then only Eli is left standing in the shadows. The woman who was used as bait to lure him in is crying now. Even in the darkness of the underpass, she saw glimpses of the horrors that killed her compatriots. With a scream, she claws at her eyes as madness takes over. Eli passes by her, continuing on his way down the old highway. Eli pauses only slightly to look into the distance, where he sees a dust cloud rising on the horizon.
Eventually, Eli comes to a town. It’s a peaceful town, run by a strict, but fair man. They welcome him with open arms once he proves he isn’t’ a cannibal or outlaw. One of the first things he sees is justice being brought to someone who stole food. When they cut the mans hand off, Eli declares it barbaric. The townsfolk tell him that may be true, but it keeps order in the city, and the order keeps everybody alive. Eli meets with the mayor, a man named Carnegie. He tells Eli the history of the city, how they are able to survive because of a river deep underground that provides them with fresh water. Eli asks about the man outside that he saw punished. Carnegie tells them that while they have plentiful water, food is still scarce, and stealing it is the worst crime. An argument ensues about the methods of punishment. Carnegie believes that Eli has a Bible, he talks of what he remembers of the Old Testament, and the rules laid down in it for punishments. Eli laughs, advising that all men should be free, and that there is more than one book out there, and only one of the old religions is true. “He has spoken to me. I know what I must do, and that he will protect me so that it can be done.”
Eli looks past Carnegie, out the window in his office, and sees that the dust cloud has come closer. “A war is coming” is all that he says before turning around and leaving. Carnegie turns to look out the window, pondering what Eli meant, before focusing on the cloud and calling for his men.
Eli steps onto the street, and begins preaching about freedom, and how all men should be able to take what they need and do as they want. He tells them that men like Carnegie are keeping them weak and docile so that they don’t rise to their true potential. He then tells them that he has come to warn them of an army that is approaching. The people look unsure, but when they see the activity on the walls, the begin to believe and panic. Eli calms them down, telling them that he knows how to save them, and what they must do.
We then cut to the army approaching. There are dozens of vehicles, all with guns and armor plating affixed to them. From the lead vehicle, a tall black man emerges. His head is clean-shaven, except for the pointed goatee, his eyes and lips have a thick layer of makeup on them that is almost as brightly colored as the robe draped over his shoulders, and when he speaks, it is but a whisper, but every man in the city can hear him. “We come seeking a man who is newly among you. He has knowledge that we have deemed unsuitable to humanity. Submit to us, and you may continue under our rule. Refuse, and none shall live.”
Carnegie tells his police to seize Eli. Eli looks at the people before him, asking if they really believe they were meant to live under rule of men such as these, or if, instead, they wish to be free. As the guards approach, a townsmen jumps tackles one of them, wrestling away his gun, and fires upon another guard. The rest of the gathered townspeople also rise up. As chaos ensues, Eli begins to read aloud from the book. The language is one that was never meant to be heard, let alone spoken by a human tongue.
We cut back to the waiting army. A soldier approaches their leader, “Great Pharaoh, are we too late?”
“Do not fear, they will shout and kill and revel until they wear themselves out, then we shall strike. The book will be ours, and then we can end this. Soon, it will ALL, be over.” He gives the signal, and his troops begin to encircle the city.
It is not long before all Carnegie’s guards are either killed or defected to the side of their now mad neighbors. Eli has Carnegie brought before him. “This world is ancient, older than you or I could ever imagine. There are things here that lived before us. Some still live, others lie waiting to live again. Some need only a signal to rise.” He drags Carnegie over to the city’s well, then rips his shirt open. Then, as he draws a large knife, “Sometimes, a small signal will do. Just the slightest nudge will draw them up, other times, a greater sacrifice is needed.” He carves a symbol into Carnegie’s chest, them pushes him down the well.
The sun begins to set and the signal is given for the soldiers outside the walls begin their attack. Shots ring out and screams can be heard from within the city. At first, they are believed to be screams of fear, but it soon becomes apparent that they are screams of madness. As the solders breach the gate, they are set upon by the people of the city. They rush out, attacking with what ever they could obtain. Some have guns, others with shovels or even just their hands. The first wave is easily mowed down by gun fire. But then, a different sound is heard from within the city walls. The ground cracks in places, and clawed hands can be seen reaching up as something thing tries to climb out. Outside the city, screams can be heard as some kind of thick black ooze begins to bubble up from the earth to envelope some of the cars.
The leader of the army wades into the fight, swinging what can only be described as a cattle prod or stun baton. He sees Eli slip over the top of the city wall. The Pharaoh fights his way to the wall, can be seen in the distance. The Pharaoh pulls out a long-barreled pistol from his robes, firing one round at Eli. He stumbles to the ground, the gets back up, proceeding down the road, however he has left the book where he dropped it. The fighting continues for some time, the army, townsfolk, and creatures are all gone now, only the Pharaoh remains. He leaves the city, going to where his car was parked, only to find it missing. He looks at all the other vehicles, finding them all disabled. He walks over to the book that Eli dropped, opening it’s cover he finds not the cryptic words of an ancient religion, but instead discovers a collection of human faces, tanned and preserved as pages within the covers of the book. His scream can be heard as the camera zooms out, showing a large black tongue like tentacle rise up and then crush the city. The camera continues to fly down the road until it comes upon the Pharaoh’s car, driven by Eli.
He drives further down the road to San Francisco, where he takes a boat to the island of Alcatraz. “I carry with me, a copy of the Necronomicon of Abdul Al Hazred.” The guards look at each other, then let him in. A man named Lombardi greets him, asking to see the book. Eli unbuttons his shirt, removing it to reveal the tattoos covering his entire body. Lombardi pulls out a magnifying glass, and begins to read the minuscule script, asking for scribes to start copying it down.
The movie ends with Lombardi placing a newly pressed copy of the Necronomicon on a shelf. The camera turns to reveal that tears of blood are dripping from Lombardi’s eyes, and behind him we see the skin of Eli has been removed and is stretched across a frame so that it can be read more easily.
Now someone call del Toro and let’s get to rebooting.