I have recently rewatched The Book of Eli (2010) and thought I would analyse how it interests me. I admire Denzel Washington as an actor and a Christian. It is a post-apocalypse story where humanity has lost its way.
Near the start of the film a women is being attacked (She tried to deceive him earlier). Later Eli sees her from a distance being attacked. Eli says to himself in a spiritual way “stay on the path it’s not your concern”. He doesn’t get involved. I could identify with this as I have had to not get involved in situations in psychiatric hospitals. I don’t like bullies (especially staff) but I realise I can’t save everyone (including the staff).
Eli later arrives in a bar and more bandits approach him. He has a fight with them all and takes them all down. The waitress asks him to stop as he is about to execute a man he took down. Like Eli I can sometimes lose perspective and be determined to finish something out of righteousness no matter the cost. Sometimes I need someone to make me think and stop for my own health. Though I’m not a violent person.
After taking the bandits down, more bandits with guns arrive pointing their weapons at Eli. Carnegie their mafia like boss, meets with Eli who likes the fact Eli is educated and not fearful. Carnegie asks Eli to work for him but Eli declines saying he needs to head West. My experience with mental health professionals is they will ask me to take medication but it’s clear I have no choice especially in hospital. Carnegie asks Eli to stay the night and it’s clear Eli decides to agree perhaps so he can make one last prayer.
Eli arrives in his room and is told someone will be outside his room if he needs anything. Eli says he won’t need anything but is told you never know. Eli gets a gun hidden in his bag as he doesn’t feel safe. It reminds me of staying in a psychiatric hospital. My Temple is usually inside my mind and my home.
Carnegie sends Claudia with some dinner to Denzel as an offering. Claudia is blind and tells Carnegie you won’t be able to make Eli do what you want. Carnegie sends his and Claudia’s daughter, Solara, as an offering as well. Solara offers herself to Eli and Eli refuses. Solara asks to stay the night with him so she doesn’t get into trouble. Eli gives her his bed and sleeps on the floor so the boss won’t harm her.
Eli ends up talking to Solara about what the world was like before the apocalypse. Solara sees he has a book and wants to see it. She is surprised he can read. He shows her how to pray which they do together. She reports to Carnegie about a prayer and the boss believes he must have a Bible.
Carnegie and his bandits try to take the Bible off him. Carnegie believes having control of the Bible will make him more powerful. It appears all the Bibles were destroyed during the Apocalypse. Given the amount of temps and agency staff working for NHS Mental Health Services they often feel like bandits to me. The service is relying on a database and short meetings to profile me like a computer. As it’s rare they want to build a relationship with me. In hospital it can be worse as there is no library and you can’t always get your phone charged when you want to. If I ended up in hospital I would have to order an NIV Bible in from Amazon on my phone.
Carnegie believes he can use the Bible in his plans of expansion of his town. He tries to appeal to Eli for him handing it over and using it for righteousness. Eli wants the message of his Bible to be shared. Though he explains it isn’t going to be shared here. Sometimes I have felt mental health professionals and researchers (perhaps unconsciously) are looking for their own answers to the meaning of life. I can’t do that for them. In a way it’s like saying my superpower is God (which they don’t want to hear) as I tried to explain in my Man of Steel blog.
Carnegie’s bandits try putting Eli down with weapons. He is lucky to make it alive out there (perhaps the Holy Spirit was guiding him). As someone that didn’t grow up in a Christian family, I wasn’t taught about prayer and to be mindful of my experiences. Though in hindsight I believe the Holy Spirit was present. It feels like a miracle that I got out of the psychiatric hospital when homeless last year. Reading the Bible in hospital for 4 and half months protected me from remaining there longer.
Eli escapes without being harmed physically. Solara catches up with him. She feels safe with him and tries to prove her value by knowing sources of water. Carnegie recovers from his injuries and asks his bandits to find Eli and his Bible. The bandits agree but he has to bargain Solara for their assistance. Solara is later almost captured but Eli rescues her.
Eli uses arrows like the fourth horseman of the apocalypse to hunt for food and for defence. Solara asked Eli if he reads the Bible everyday and Eli answers yes he does. Solara asks whats so special about this book. Eli answers it’s the last copy. Solara asked Eli to read some of the book:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters.He restores my soul he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me.Psalm 23:1-6
Eli talks about how he is being led West to take the book where he would be safe and protected. Eli talks about a voice rather than the word of God leading him. Salela is inquisitive. Eli explains he walks by faith not by sight. You know something without having to know something. Many Christians believe they are led by the Holy Spirit. For much of my life I have had a feeling of destiny and I wasn’t quite sure why but I went with it in the back of my mind. I have travelled the world and been around the world. I visited many countries when I was young even though I was from a broken home.
I emigrated to Australia by flying via San Francisco in 2008. I spent a weeks holiday with my ex partner looking at all the sights including Alcatraz. I was told there was no escape and certain death. I wasn’t convinced. When I lived in Australia I visited Green Island which is part of Whitsunday islands near the Great Barrier Reef. I went snorkelling near the Great Barrier Reef and it made me more steadfast in believing we need a cleaner and healthier planet.
Much of what happens in the rest of the film is Eli and Salela avoiding the Wild West of people and not being stopped by Carnegie. The US spirit is clearly broken and divided. They do there best to survive.
Towards the end of the movie Eli hands over the Bible to Carnegie when Salela is threatened at gunpoint. Although Eli is shot they both manage to escape together. Meanwhile Carnegie has wasted his human resources getting the Bible when he discovers the Bible is written in Brail. Claudia refuses to help him as his world collapses around him. I feel a similar way about autism and mental health services and research. The Social Contract appears to not be fair. It’s either peace and reconciliation or a collapse in our shared values.
At the end of the movie it’s revealed that Eli is blind. They find Alcatraz, San Francisco. Eli and Salela meet someone with the only known printing press and can print more copies of the Bible. It finishes with him reading the Bible from memory. A man begins writing down what he says. Some clues were present in the movie that he was blind that I seem to miss. An Autistic person I spoke to online tipped me off a few years ago that somehow Eli just knew he was different. I was researching many branches of knowledge for many years to find meaning and understanding.
It became apparent in 2019 when doing my PGCert in Mental Health Recovery and Social Inclusion that I believed in Social Justice strongly. Understanding what that meant and what life means to me has taken a long time. My life has been hard with my unique characteristics that transcend Disability, Sexual Orientation and Spiritual beliefs. I have faced deep conflict internally and externally. The conflict may probably never be resolved as life is about searching for meaning for many of us. I believe a new journey is about to begin. I believe in and what Jesus stood for and that he believed in a set of ideals and values that I subscribe to.
What keeps me well is having a peaceful mind and a peaceful home. Both of those have felt under threat for most of my life. In more recent times I have called my mind and home my Temple’s. Since leaving hospital last year I joined a Church which has become my third Temple for refuge. I am going to be baptised on Pentecost (Whitsunday). As a Dual British and Australian Citizen the Australian High Commission in London is nearest to Temple Station.
As a generalist I often joke I’m a jack of all trades master of none.