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Blood and the Bible

"Blood and the Bible" Continued...

In the same interview, though, Washington revealed how his faith has guided him throughout his career. While discussing the beliefs of the Eli character, Washington reflected on previous roles: "I've tried to bend even the worst of roles like Training Day. The first thing I wrote on my script was 'The wages of sin are death.' In the original script you found out that he died on television. I said, 'In order for me to justify him living in the worst way, he has to die in the worst way. I had [co-star Ethan Hawke] pull me out of the car and I crawled like a snake and the whole neighborhood turns their back on me and I get blown to bits."

Washington, whose father was a Pentecostal minister, wasn't the only actor affected by the faith portrayed in Eli. Gary Oldman, whose character wears saint's medallions owned by the actor, talked about faith's power: "Faith is such an incredible thing because you can't see it. You can't touch it. It's something that you have, and if it's strong, it's immovable. . . . It's an admirable thing. It's an enviable thing."

Allen Hughes offered, unintentionally, the best explanation of the film's failure to make a coherent statement about the issues it raises. He revealed an intentional decision to "make sure that people would come into this movie and whatever they're bringing in is what they're seeing." Hughes did not want to appear to be making an "overtly Christian" movie. "It's critical for me and my brother that [The Book of Eli] speak to everyone. It's a blessing for Christians that [the book] happens to be the Bible in this movie, because we show the positive, a righteous character, but at the end of the day I'd like the atheist to accept the blessing, [as well as] the Native American and the Buddhist."

Hughes went on to say, "There's a oneness that we all must embrace. . . . Let's just accept one another and [not] split hairs. . . . When I sit down with Denzel and his lovely wife, they're both Christians, [but] we never break into semantics."

Although Washington's faith shines through in his role, The Book of Eli, soaked in stylish gore, never provides enough depth to justify its excesses. The filmmakers desire to avoid challenging any viewer's preconceived notions means that only the squeamish will be offended.


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