Posted in Monday Mayhem

The Book of Eli and Zombies

The Book of Eli is one of my favorite movies of all time. That’s saying a lot, considering I can name my favorite movies in a quick ten-second round. Given I’ve written about Solara, the female protagonist for one of my Women Who Wow Wednesday articles, I thought it appropriate for Monday Mayhem to write about the dystopian nightmare presented in the film. Even though the world of Eli is far from being the center of a total undead infestation, the scenarios the survivors face are the same.

Denzel Washington as Eli
Denzel Washington as Eli

Just how similar is The Book of Eli’s reality with that of a zombie apocalypse?

Not to give away anything from the plot of the film, the future according to The Book of Eli is that of doom and gloom. Gangs rule the earth searching for wealth—but not the wealth you and I might think as valuable. Huge swaths of land lack the basic ingredient to make it flourish into a viable ecosystem. The ingredient? Water. Whether it’s a small blade of grass or an ox, life needs water to survive. Without water, life ceases to exist. What are the chances water can become the new currency? In a zombie apocalypse, all the employees who worked at the dams and water treatment plants will have disappeared, swallowed by their fall into the vortex of the undead. With no one supervising the flow, malevolent humans could easily capture the resource and use it to control those under their supposed jurisdiction.

The Book of Eli
The Book of Eli

Next is the food chain. Survivors will need to eat things. If the film is any indication to what humanity has to look forward to, then there will be more to deal with than a mere food shortage. Lack of sustenance gives rise to the unthinkable. Cannibalism could become the norm. Not only will the survivors have to pay close attention to attacks from zombies aiming to make a meal of them, but they would also need to be mindful of attacks from within. Hunger will do strange things to a person’s mind. It will lead someone, who otherwise in a civilized society would be a model citizen, to commit the most heinous of crimes—to consume a fellow human for the purpose of self-preservation. How farfetched does that sound in light of the fact that we don’t know what humanity is capable of until that day when placed in those circumstances where everyone’s forced to choose?

Lastly, The Book of Eli suggests the barter system will work when all else fails. A pair of gloves, cat oil and a trinket from the past may buy a charge for an iPod. That is all a survivor may need to get them through another week of wandering through zombie-infested farmland in order to find a hospitable environment where they could call home. It won’t be easy. To deal in the barter system one will need to expropriate goods for the sole purpose of trade. Those goods will need to be high-demand items on everyone’s list. It’s unrealistic to assume those items would also not fall under heavy guard by those who’d want to keep them for themselves. And if zombies have anything to do with it, what’s to say survivors couldn’t use the bodies of the undead as trophies for their morbid trades?

Therefore, again I ask. Just how similar is The Book of Eli’s reality with that of a zombie apocalypse?


What do you think would make a zombie apocalypse less dangerous than a real end-time scenario?


Jack Flacco is an author and the founder of Looking to God Ministries, an organization dedicated to spreading the Word of God through outreach programs, literature and preaching.

11 thoughts on “The Book of Eli and Zombies

  1. Well hell, here you go giving a thought provoking question on a Monday! !! Hahaha ..I’m going to have to rewatch the Book of Eli because apparently I was too engrossed in his kick ass fight scenes to take in the whole story.

  2. The Book of Eli is not one of my favorite Apocalyptic movies but there are a couple which address the same issues you brought up in your post: The Mad Max series and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

    Also, have you read Kim Newman’s Apocalypse Movies?

  3. I love The Book of Eli. Never considered its similarities with a zombie apocalypse, but I do see your points. 🙂 We never know what we’ll be driven to at the nadir of our lives until we reach that point.

    I’d like to think I’d be like Eli, and keep moving forward, even if I felt I’d blown it entirely.

  4. Never saw it, but somehow I’m reminded of ” Soylent Green “, where the climate is changing, the Earth can’t really support crops or livestock, so….. We start recycling people. ” Soylent Green ” was pretty much ahead of its time in predicting massive climate – change.

    The idea of consuming the recently dearly – departed is still rather unthinkable, no matter how much it could be sanitized.

  5. I think a zombie apocalypse would be less dangerous in the long term. The zombies could be destroyed or contained, which would allow the rest of humanity to continue living in relative peace. A reality like in ‘The Book of Eli’ is one where the entire landscape has fundamentally and permanently changed. There’s no going back to what once was or even come close to some extent.

    One thing I never understood in a lot of apocalyptic movies, who is making all of those batteries? There’s always battery-operated items like walkmans even though most of the stuff I own doesn’t work off AAA’s.

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