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Now or Then – The Book of Eli or The Road?

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Now: The Book of Eli (2010)Then: The Road (2009)

The post-apocalyptic craze definitely hasn’t run its course. This week’s action blockbuster The Book of Eli offers us yet more blasted landscapes, charred corpses, roving gangs, and other images of humanity going down the toilet following a mysterious “flash.” So we decided to compare it to the last year’s post-apocalyptic drama The Road. True, the new movie is more a scifi samurai-Western, while the former is a somber drama in which Viggo Mortensen gets really, really thin. Nevertheless, the similarities were too hard to ignore…

As usual, spoilers follow for both films.

That Which Must Be Preserved

Book of Eli: Eli (Denzel Washington) is carrying with him the last known remaining copy of the Bible, which he believes can help people lead righteous lives once again.

The Road: According to the Man (Viggo Mortensen), he and the Boy are carrying within them the Fire, which we take to mean represents what little goodness is left in the world.

A Young Ward Who Will Carry the Torch

Book of Eli: Solara (Mila Kunis) joins Eli on his travels, and he teaches her about religion and survival. After Eli dies, she demonstrates her newfound appreciation of Christianity by taking his machete and heading out on the road to wreak vengeance.

The Road: The Boy learns from his father about the goodness within humans, and about survival. After the Man dies, he vows to continue carrying on the Fire within himself.


Book of Eli: Eli and Solara hide out with an elderly couple in their house, only to realize that the two old-timers are probably cannibals.

The Road: The Man and the Boy take shelter in a house, only to realize (after seeing the, um, well stocked basement) that these people are cannibals.

Choose Your Battles
Book of Eli: Eli sees a couple attacked by a group of marauding bikers, who rape the woman and kill the man. From a distance, he chooses not to help..

The Road: The Man and the Boy see a mother and child attacked by a group of marauding cannibals, who presumably then eat them. From a distance, they choose not to help.

A Journey Towards Water

Book of Eli: Eli and Solara eventually make their way to San Francisco Bay and to Alcatraz island, where the remaining art and culture of humanity are being diligently preserved.

The Road: The Man and the Boy are heading to the Sea, where they are convinced that they can find some vestige of humanity.

Don’t forget to vote in the Now or Then poll or leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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