When God sends a warrior: A review of The Book of Eli

Come on. This is a blog about survival and prepping. You know I was going to get around to this eventually. Things were a bit distracted in January 2010 when this hit theaters. So I just saw it a couple of weeks ago.

We’re dropped into a post-nuke/holocaust/apocalypse setting of gray skies and desolation. It’s a world not of vivid but desaturated colour with some scenes almost looking sepia. It almost looks like whatever happened took all the colour out of the world as it took the joy out of the people.(Brilliant cinematography) Eli (Denzel Washington) a man skilled in survival walks across the country carrying one of the last existing copies of The Bible to an unknown place in the West. He’s a man of faith in a world that has forgotten it…the last of the faithful and the beginning of their return. He’s more warrior-prophet than minister…more Moses than St. Paul. And that’s probably what the world would need at that time.

He acquired his skills somewhere. I won’t say he was a survivalist in his former life before it all hit the fan. He may have been military spec-ops. He may have been a martial arts expert. He may have been a teacher or a preacher. Mushroom clouds have a way of changing the way one looks at the world. However he came by it, he learned what he needed to survive and he became good at it.

There are a number of things that are talked about in the prepper community regarding TEOTWAWKI that happen in the movie. 1) The Barter Economy is in full swing with things like Chapstick being traded for services and other goods. 2) Anarchy means that there is no bureaucracy. There may be former bureaucrats alive, but the economy in which they used to operate is no more. No SSNs or tax forms or other crap that we stress over. 3) The four elements, water, shelter, fire, food, are what people focus on, not the layers upon layers of derivation that people today think are essential. The illusion is long gone.

I’m sure Steve Jobs is happy to see that 30 years after the holocaust, his 3G iPod with the wheel and four buttons is still playing tunes. 😉 There were a number of other products that were on display. I believe Eli was using a pair of Beats by Dr. Dre earbuds and he was definitely carrying an Oakley backpack. His sunglasses are probably Oakley as well.

The cast includes a number of well-known actors including Gary Oldman, Ray Stevenson, Jennifer Beals, Mila Kunis and a very Einsteinian-looking Malcolm MacDowell. Right now I’ve got the film saved on the DVR but it’s definitely one for the collection.

That this knowledge shall not perish from the Earth…

That’s why I’m a prepper.

That’s why I’m studying primitive/aboriginal skills.

I’m fairly tech savvy. Computers have been a part of my life since the late 70s. When I was a junior in high school, there was a consumer math course I wanted to take. The counselor tried talking me out of it saying I was “too smart” because I was in 2nd yr algebra. I told her that working those problems won’t help me balance a checkbook or understand a mortgage. When it comes to preparedness and survival, I do not like the thought of encountering some massive devastation and having to rely on “services” because I was on autopilot with everyone else and did nothing to prepare or because I don’t know how to build a fire and all the body of knowledge related to that. A few hundred years ago everyone knew these things. I’ve decided that I need to know them as well… to be capable in both wilderness and city.

Society and its mouthpiece, the media, does us a disservice. When anything becomes overwhelming, we’re encouraged to look outside ourselves. Someone will come. Someone will fix it. Someone will make it better. Someone will make it not so. The price of that help is moving beyond most people’s ability to pay. Then if we are to turn to ourselves, to be self-reliant, it stands to reason must be something to rely on. We can’t rely upon gadgets or knowledge of how to operate them long term in a system-down situation.

That someone has to be me. And for you, that someone has to be you.

If we’re going to look within, there needs to be something there we can rely on. Just like you filled your brain with the technical you need to fill it with the practical. Knowing what to do when a certain error pops up on a computer screen won’t help you when you have to abandon a broken down car and you’re several days away from help. You’re going to need water, shelter, fire and security. How to make water filters, shelters, fire and monitor your area for security doesn’t come automatically. These are skills and thankfully there are people happy to teach them to you.

Granted, eventually people would figure out how to make a fire if given enough time but how much better would it be to already know how? Think about. There are people waiting to learn it from you as you learned it from someone else.