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Hughes Brothers Talk Religious Controversy in The Book of Eli

Published January 11, 2010 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Warner Bros
Book of Eli Poster Book of Eli
The Hughes Brothers are happy to tell you that the book in The Book of Eli is the bible. Eli is protecting a bible so that post-apocalyptic dictators can’t use it to control their people. Perhaps that plot is fuel for controversy, but the Hughes Brothers don’t mind letting that one slip.

Book of Eli Trailer


“I think that it was calculated by both Warner Brothers and Alcon at first to see what they wanted to do with it,” said Albert Hughes. “They played with it for months to try to figure out what they wanted to do with that revelation. I think they finally settled on just let it out. It’s not really a big reveal in the movie. People are going to find that out anyway. There’s bigger reveals in the movie. Maybe it’s a plus. Maybe people out there will appreciate that so it may benefit us rather than hurt.”

The film itself doesn’t say “bible, bible, bible.” It’s just obvious that’s what it is. “No part in the whole movie was there ever a lantern, as you will, hung on the fact that it’s a bible,” said Allen Hughes. “The first time you see her go like this [making a cross], you know obviously. You know it’s a bible but we don’t make a thing. There’s not a to do. There’s not a spotlight on it. The first time it’s mentioned is in the last 10 minutes of the movie, the word bible, because the movie is about other deeper things that have to do with that but have to do with these human beings, you know. The bible happens to be the sacred Maguffin.”

Early summaries just said that the book had the key to salvation in the apocalypse. That just made it more confusing “because that was badly put too, because that’s subjective,” Allen said. “That was the only thing that I think was probably not a good logline to put out there. It made people hunt the wrong dog. ‘May hold the key to man’s salvation.’ Well, a Christian very much would think that. A Buddhist may not believe that.”



So whether people go to the movie because of that, or find out once they see it, the directors expect to spark some debate, if not controversy. “I think we both would hope that at least there’s a discussion that incites a thought,” Allen said. “It’s thought provoking and challenges the audience especially more so than just your typical popcorn or action movie and people come out of the theater, they were moved by something even into a debate or discussion with their friend or spouses or girlfriends or boyfriends.”

Albert added, “To us, we don’t particularly find anything controversial about it but when you’re dealing with anything that has a religious, spiritual element in it, there’s always controversy because opinions fly like wildfire. They’re so varied in how people receive things. I think it’s a hopeful movie. It’s not graphic. We didn’t try to be graphically violent. We didn’t go that route. I hope we didn’t. We think we’re tasteful in the way that the violence was introduced. It was for a purpose, not just done to get a wow, hopefully.”

And if you think it’s wrong that leaders use religion for power, just look at history. “Jim Jones,” Allen suggested. “I think it’s a good debate though. That’s probably the greatest debate we can have about that book or any sacred text that we brought up today, a tome, whatever you want to call it. Anything in the wrong hands can be used the wrong way. Even the greatest things.”

The Book of Eli opens to theaters January 15th.

For the trailers, stills, posters and more movie info, go to the The Book of Eli Movie Page.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Warner Bros
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