For fans of barren landscapes and interminable joylessness, anticipation runs high: In October, the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's ultrableak The Road hits theaters, followed just three months later by The Book of Eli, a grim, postapocalyptic drama starring Denzel Washington as a nomadic loner in possession of the titular book, "which provides knowledge that could redeem society" (or something). This morning's USA Today has a first-look slideshow at some promotional photos from Eli's Albuquerque set, and if you're into despair, we'd highly recommend it. But can Eli possibly be as depressing as The Road? This calls for a Bleak-Off!
Eerily abandoned vehicles on empty roads? Check and check! Toss-up.
In USA Today's slideshow, Eli director Allen Hughes explains the picture on the left: "This is the scene where Eli has come into the Orpheum Theatre, which has been converted into a postapocalyptic bar. He's come in to fill his canteen with water, but ends up being confronted by some locals who block his path as he tries to exit. This is the moment where the noble man decides he has to kill some folks." On the right, The Road's Viggo Mortensen straight up killing some folks. Edge: The Road
As everyone knows, hostile survivors are a crucial element of any post-apocalyptic hellscape. But in Book of Eli, Denzel Washington is somehow able to walk among a few of them without being attacked and eaten. What is this, a romantic comedy? Edge: The Road
Both films apparently contain pivotal scenes set behind tables. But while Eli's has a clean-shaven Gary Oldman and natural light, The Road's has a crying, unglamorous Charlize Theron and a loaded pistol. Edge: The Road
Winner: The Road