A dark and brooding epic, Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘There Will Be Blood’ is a landmark masterpiece.
The film follows Daniel Plainview, as he navigates America in the late 19th, and early 20th Centuries in pursuit of oil, and the success that it entails. He is accompanied by his son, H.W. as he searches for the grim, black, priceless commodity that consumes his being. Our empathy for Plainview diminishes rapidly following the film’s opening, as we quickly see the stubborn, manipulative, heartless manoeuvres as he pursues capitalist ‘success’, seemingly at ease with the price that he continually pays. He is callous, childlike, yet ruthless and driven, which leads him to his success. Here we clearly see a World which rewards a business mindset, not a human one, as we watch Plainview tear apart the World around him, and unknowingly, his own World, for such is his concern for reputation and glory.
Here is a character who is infuriatingly childlike in his petty desire to ‘beat’ all who oppose him.
Daniel Day-Lewis is typically excellent here, the story depends entirely on this character, and he dominates the screen throughout. He truly carries the film with his commitment to the role, and the result is a character who is completely believable, despite his insanity. Here is a character who is infuriatingly childlike in his petty desire to ‘beat’ all who oppose him. However, Day-Lewis ensures that there is no element of caricature here, bringing a terrifying level believable of threat and volatility to the role, beneath a calm, brooding exterior. Paul Dano plays Eli Sunday, the soft, compassionate priest who operates as a counterbalance to the overt, testosterone-fuelled mercilessness of Plainview, this character serving as a powerful microcosm of the broader, corrupting tragedy at the centre of this story.
The pursuit of Darwinian supremacy that Plainview lauds over Sunday is a poignant capturing of the cruelty that is necessary for any invasion that seeks to pillage a land for its resources, fuelled by a toxic greed and lust for power. Their conflict forms a central aspect of the story, and we soon realise that the characters have more in common than may have originally been evident. The blunt conclusion to the spiritual conflict of these characters ensures that the grimy oil that soaks the skin of ‘There Will be Blood’ will not wash away easily.
It is a film which I rarely hear mentioned by my fellow film lovers, and I think that it thoroughly deserves a renewed appreciation, due to its transformative performances, and devastating message.
This is a long movie, with a dark subject matter, this sort of drawn out, historical epic didn’t exactly excite me when I thought about watching it, having bought the DVD and not touched it for two years. Putting aside the time has opened me to one of the most powerful film’s I’ve ever seen, and in my opinion it stands with ’12 years a slave’, ‘Moonlight’, and ‘Parasite’ as among the best films of the century so far. It certainly towers above ‘No Country for Old Men’, the best picture winner the year that it was released, and that is no small accomplishment. It is a film which I rarely hear mentioned by my fellow film lovers, and I think that it thoroughly deserves a renewed appreciation, due to its transformative performances, and devastating message. It is a film that has endured since its release, and shall continue to do so, for it remains a timeless moral tale. I’m Finished