Max and Eli;
On The Road and At The Movies

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

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Differences

The differences are also notable, though less striking than their similarities:

WARRIOR was made by newcomers; nobody knew who Mel Gibson and George Miller were in 1981. The film was made as a sequel to 1979’s MAD MAX.

ELI, on the other hand, was made by established and ambitious filmmakers (Albert and Allen Hughes) with a good track record (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents, From Hell) and a bankable star (Denzel Washington).

WARRIOR is much shorter in length, getting right to the point and wasting no time in letting us figure out what’s going on.

In ELI, the pace is slower, the mood more elaborate and mysterious; the camera more poetic, as if another character. It takes over an hour before we understand what’s going on, and there are still more surprises for later. With ELI, how we get there is half the fun.

In WARRIOR, the camera rarely participates on any level other than as a dedicated voyeur or witness; an ultimate judge. The beautiful landscape and the stunning wide-screen shots contrast the brutality of the action. But 10 minutes into the story we know all we need to follow along.

In ELI, the camera (and the cinematography) becomes another character; the appearance of the sky, the low horizon line, the smoky-gray “after the fire” look, and the careful and effective use of green and blue screen, become elements in the story and further revelation of this new world’s “character.” As Eli approaches his goal, the sky begins to look more natural and the color palate more full.

The shortage of handguns and ammunitions in WARRIOR, and the creative use of props, is as revealing of post-apocalyptic disorder as any photographic trick in ELI.

Can some of these differences and similarities be attributed to a more grounded societal attitude in 1982? Can we point to an increase in religious ideology since the Reagan Administration for the unexplained miracles in ELI?

WARRIOR went on to receive the kindest form of flattery; it was widely imitated, though never surpassed. ELI made a few bucks during its commercial run, but clearly did not win the hearts and minds of sci-fi hardliners, and it has not fared well in recent memory, even though other lone-wolf-movie-hero-types (Tom Cruise, Will Smith) have dropped the ball in their recent sci-fi outings.

NEXT: Back Story and Motivations

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