The Western Gets Religion and Mad Samurai Skills in The Book of Eli
Posted 01.04.10 by reelz
Moviemakers have repeatedly insisted that The Book of Eli, despite its setting, is not a Western. Sure it's all about a showdown in a small Western town between a mysterious stranger and the the local powers that be. But, as they pointed out in a recent group interview with SCI FI Wire, there are some significant departures from the genre classics.
First of all it's set in a bleak, post-apocalyptic future. And then there's the religious angle that has been highlighted in the movie's recent poster campaign. Eli is on a quest to deliver a book with a key to the salvation of what's left of humanity to its rightful place. As Denzel Washington, who plays Eli, puts it, the movie is essentially
a classic battle between God and the devil, or even more specifically for the character of [Eli], I mean, he's five days' walk from the Promised Land, if you will, for taking this book where it belongs, and literally all hell breaks loose.
The specifics of how hell breaks loose contain an interesting twist, as well. In what seems to be a nod to the samurai origins of the spaghetti Western, they've put Eli's mad sword-fighting skills at the center of the action. One of the most impressive sequences from the trailer has Eli fighting off a hoard of thugs just with his machete. And as a recent behind-the-scenes video reveals, Washington took a hands-on approach to these scenes and actually did the stunts himself.