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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Like science fiction, religion functions outside the realm of logic, so combining the two was only a matter of time. The premise of ELI is as believable as any other science fiction premise from the past 40 years; aliens with acid for blood, Martian invaders from the center of the earth, terminators from the future, androids with feelings, walking dead, vampires with sunglasses, time travel. Compare to Jesus walking on water, turning water into wine, resurrection, and you get the idea.

That parts of modern American society have moved significantly to the right of Ronald Reagan’s America of the 1980s is evident when comparing these two films. The abstract notion that the bible is a crucial element to our human survival may also give credence to recent Tea Bag Party ideology.

Perhaps the most obvious point in both films, that the righteous must use violence against the wicked to preserve peace (and pursue the word of God) was reflected in the execution of Al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama Bin Ladden. Eli and Max would both agree that some people are just too evil to be allowed to live. Ironically, Bin Ladden would also agree. It’s not a new idea, but one that could have been at the heart of whatever war devastated the world in both movies and one that continues to “fuel” our real-world ideological pursuits in the 21st century.

And yet the paradox of a righteous Black man protecting the last King James Bible from an ambitious White man may have alienated a potential audience that increasingly turns to religion for clues on how to solve modern problems but is driven to oppose President Obama at every turn.

Both films end on an implied positive note for humanity, but one bets on God, while the other bets (heavily) on the irrepressible human spirit.


feral kid


Brosnan, J. Future Tense – The Cinema of Science Fiction. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978. Print.

Sontag, Susan. “The Imagination of Disaster.” Science Fiction Studies in Film. New York: Ace Books, 1981. Print.

Ebert, Roger. “Mad Max 2 / The Road Warrior.” Rev. of The Road Warrior. Chicago Sun Times. 1/1/1982.

Hammond, Pete. “Post-apocalyptic action for the Bible belt: The Book of Eli.” Rev. of The Book of Eli. Box Office Web Site. Retrieved from

LaSalle, Mick. “Review: The Book of Eli.” Rev. of The Book of Eli. SF Chronicle. 15 January 2010.

Pinkerton, Nick. “The Book of Eli: Kicking Ass for Jesus.” Rev. of The Book of Eli. The Village Voice. 12 January 2010.

The Book of Eli. Dir: The Hughes Brothers. Perf. Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis. Warner Brothers, 2010. DVD.

The Road Warrior. Dir: George Miller. Perf. Mel Gibson. Bruce Spence. Mike Preston. Warner Brothers, 1982. DVD.

Mast, G. and Cohen, M., Eds. Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings, Third Edition.

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