A Look at the Differences and Similarities between The Road Warrior and The Book of Eli, 2 Post-Apocalyptic Cinematic Visions Separated by 29 Years
by Jerry A. Sierra
Every-day-life in these worlds is simple; survive or die trying. No incompetent governments or silly regulations, and a new world to “take back” from the vermin.
In both films the world as we know it is devastated, and survivors don’t agree on what to do next. A human-scavenger culture has emerged in which technology no longer functions, and humanity has reverted to its most animalistic instincts.
A lone wonderer (a man of few words and big actions) explores what is left of his world; his participation in this violent existence is necessary in order for humanity to survive.
Both Max and Eli are offered a chance to stay (jobs!) with their new friends, yet both turn down this opportunity to continue their journey.
The verbal output from Max and Eli is scarce and significant; they speak the absolute minimum number of words necessary to make their point (Mel Gibson has 16 lines of dialogue). In their worlds the strong have no qualms about having their way with the weak with much less formality than they do in today’s world. What’s left of mankind lives to survive; no other concerns are present.
Both films showcase the reasons why man needed religion in the first place: To overcome our violent nature and live cooperatively and productively; to avoid a murderous and savage existence, and to create meaning. They allow us to experience the aftermath of what Sontag calls “the fantasy of living through the death of cities, the destruction of humanity itself.”
The films also share a few commercial similarities. Both did about the same at the box office (in terms of placement on the 100 top earners list), The Road Warrior was #31 in the top 100 earners for 1982, and Book of Eli was #34 in 2010.
Also, both films appeared on a year in which sci-fi films had a strong box office; in 1982, Spielberg’s E.T. scored big with a fuzzy-friendly message, and in 2010, Toy Story III took away the top prize (over $400 million), followed by Alice in Wonderland and Iron Man II. Inception was number 6 in the top 100 list of earners that year.