There Will Be Blood
I never did see The Pursuit of Happiness, but from what I’ve heard about it, I can assume that There Will Be Blood is it’s evil twin.
The focus of There Will Be Blood is Daniel Plainview, who we see come from humble beginnings, a man with an unmatched drive to succeed. And succeed he does, becoming a relatively wealthy Oilman. Relatively wealth however is not what Daniel Plainview wants to be. Daniel wants to be more than that; he wants to crush everyone around him, to become the only oilman.
He portrays himself as a family man, concerned for the communities that he approaches to drill for oil in; he has everybody’s best interests at heart. But we know differently.
Daniel isn’t the only man who is out to succeed however, and soon he meets the challenge of Eli. A determined preacher who’s vision seems to be only for the glory of God, but as with Daniel, behind his pleasant façade there is a darkness lurking. It’s at this stage of the movie that you start to think about the title; There Will Be Blood.
And blood there is, though the body count is very low, we can feel something bubbling under the surface, things are not going to end well for one of these men and their power plays.
As a movie, There Will Be Blood wanders as far from Hollywood blockbuster conventions as is possible. Almost nothing happens for great swags of the movie, narrative is subdued to non-existent, and tension is created by using noise – the kind of screeching, growing in intensity noise that sounds as if it came straight out of Lost. And this noise, building up the tension when nothing seems to be going on is very effective at fraying ones nerves. It gets you on edge and forces your attention back to the movie, willing you to look for clues, something you may have missed.
Then suddenly, right as the movie climaxes, it suddenly ends. Stops mid-stride. As soon as the main out come is decided, that’s it, story over. It’s an odd ending, similar in it’s jarring abruptness to that of No Country For Old men. It’s initially annoying as you want to know what happens to the victor.
Then you walk away, and you start thinking about the movie, it plagues you thoughts and you realise that you don’t need to be shown what happened to the victor, you know.
Daniel Day-Lewis’ curriculum vitae isn’t overflowing with blockbuster movies, in fact there’s only about 6 recognisable movies in there, but the movie he chooses to do are well though out and interesting movies, it’s as if he decided he never wanted to make popcorn movies and I think we’re better off for it. He nails the role of Daniel Plainview, from his humble scratching through dirt beginnings, to his spiral into insanity; he plays his role with a passion that brings authenticity to his character. He manages to get the viewer to sympathise with him, willing him to succeed, cheering for him, until we start despising him and actually hating him. It’s an amazing performance, especially when you consider that for the most part he carries the movie.
It may not be the most entertaining movie of the year, but it is one that you will be thinking about for a while after, eventually you’ll come to realise that it could possibly be the best movie you’ve seen for a while.
Food for thought
Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life. Proverbs 1:19
In essence there is nothing wrong with the American dream, it’s when the American dream controls you that you have a problem. As Tony Campolo says ‘There is nothing wrong with making a million dollars. There is something wrong with keeping it.’
In There Will Be Blood we find a character in Daniel, who we assume started after the American dream as an honest man who just wanted to work hard so he could have a god life. We see a man full of determination to succeed and joy when he does. But then greed takes over and the dream is perverted by the desire to destroy anyone who gets in his way, ‘I have a competition in me,’ says Daniel. ‘I want no one else to succeed’. The problem with greed as Daniel clearly portrays in this movie, is that it consumes you and in the process of trying to gain more you loose the ability to be satisfied.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
Duration: 158 mins.
Actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciaran Hinds, Kevin J. O’Connor.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson.
Distributor: Paramount Pictures.
Release Date: 14-02-2008.