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At the end of The Book of Eli it is revealed that the eponymous bible that Eli used to read (and learn by heart) is actually written in Braille. Yet I'm not sure what further conclusions to draw from this. Was Eli just able to read Braille for some unknown reason or was he actually blind all the time (probably since the apocalypse 30 years ago, which is implied to have blinded many people)?

And if he was really blind, then how could he do all those things he did and appear as a man who can see perfectly? Was he just well-trained or are we supposed to believe that the same "mysterious voice" who sent him on his mission gave him the power to see and sense his environment (and to survive the shot long enough to complete his task)? Or was it only his own believe in his mission that let him accomplish all those things he did (though that would stretch the capabilities of self-confidence a bit far)?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

IMDb lists some hints that he was blind, but their FAQ summarises:

... the possibilities are:

  • Eli is blind and if so, he either trained himself to be able to travel, hunt, shoot, etc. like a sighted person would or

    • perhaps God is guiding his every move, as Eli says "I know I wouldn't have made it this far without help."
  • Eli is partially blind

  • he is fully sighted and anything to suggest otherwise is just coincidence


Denzel Washington had this to say:

The audience doesn’t get to know a lot about Eli’s past. How did he get skills like martial arts?

  • In [Eli's] 30 years of walking, you run into people. I make light of it, but that’s almost the way I looked at it.

    … There’s this whole issue, without giving it away, is he blind, is he not.

    … If you look at the movie, sometimes I actually bumped into stuff — and they used it. But it was actually an accident or it was God’s will. In a couple of scenes, I bumped and tripped over stuff and they kept it in there.

    I’m sure there will be people [who say], “Oh, there’s the clue. … I told you he was [blind] because he bumped into that.”

    So maybe he can [see], maybe he can’t? Maybe he can see a little bit? Maybe his eyes are clouded? I don’t know.

So martial art skills don’t necessarily come with God’s calling?

  • It could be a gifting.

So, apparently Eli bumping into stuff wasn't scripted, but simply Denzel being clumsy.

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Evidence Eli is blind came to me when watching the movie for a second time. There is a point when Eli goes into an old house/shack where he is looking for food (or whatever he can find). He is alone. He goes into a separate room in the shack where the previous occupant has hung himself. We, as the audience, recognizes there is a person hanging there, but Eli does not. He does, however, recognize the smell, but not exactly where the smell is coming from. This leads me to believe Eli is blind.

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Increased hearing sensitivity to hear a mouse in one scene also plays in to the theory. –  hbdgaf Jul 30 '13 at 20:18

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