Misery Loves Competition...
After ten years, it is more than solidified to speak of the mastery in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood.” From the magnetically terrifying performance of Daniel Day Lewis to the inescapable vastness of landscape the cinematography captures, the movie is a bleak epic in all respects. Not only does it give us eyes into how modern-day American Capitalism was born, but the madness of inner-self needed to create its foundation.
The film opens to one of the most poignant and mesmerizing 20 minutes of any movie in recent memory. The cinematography was done by Robert Elswit (Mission Impossible Ghost Protocal and its sequel, Rogue Nation, Inherant Vice, Michael Clayton, The Town, and Salt to name a few) who brings you right into the desolate land of the California Desert circa 1911. There are no words in the first 20 minutes; only non-stop labor, unshakeable focus, and obsession.
Daniel Plainview (played by Daniel Day Lewis in his second of three Oscar winning performances) is a Silver Miner who acquires enough capital to begin a small Oil Company. He has only a handful of men at his service, but you can almost tell that the less people he has to deal with, the better. Plainveiw is relentless and morally bankrupt. A coworker of his dies in a freak drilling accident, and orphans a boy, which Plainview quietly adopts. Over the course of the film, he parades his son amongst whomever he is trying to manipulate to fuel his goals and ambitions. His inner greed cannot dissuade him to treat his own son as more than a mere prop. The film slowly and evolves into a dichotomy of the madness and clarity. Most of us can safely say that we would love to be rich and prosperous, yet all of humanity can undoubtedly agree that we want to be happy. The more wealth and power Plainview acquires over the years fuels his hatred of others and their success: Hatred and success is all he has, so what better than to grow as much of both as possible?
Plainview’s hatred is channeled mainly for the young Evangelical Preacher, Eli Sunday. Eli (played by Paul Dano) is the proprietor of a small church, where Plainview has now acquired the rights to drill the land for the mother-load of oil unerneath it. This land represents Daniel Plainview’s legacy, and he is not about to allow the folly of faith and religion to foil it. Both men spend years undermining each other in the quest for control and power, until the final scene brings it to a brutal finish.
There Will Be Blood is easily called a masterpiece not just because of its acting, but because of its true portrayal of indiscriminate ambition. We all have our goals in life, and some goals are worth spending your entire lives to obtain them. Some people even go so far as to lose themselves to their ambitions, or the preservation of them. The wealthy lives that many share and enjoy was often created on the blood, sweat, and tears of others before them, and a lot of the groundwork certainly wasn’t pretty. Many people do great and terrible things in the aspiration for success, and this film serves as a reminder to mitigate are baser instincts, before ambition creates irreversible costs.. The score by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood gives a perfect ambience of foreboding dread throughout, coupled by the subtle direction in the wunderkind that is Paul Thomas Anderson. If you haven’t seen There Will Be Blood, you are missing an unforgettable film experience. When you do finally see the film, appreciate your own goals and where you are going in life. Just don’t lose your roadmap along the way.
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Here is the infamous "Fire Scene" from the film. I am simply sharing this and all material from this movie is courtesy of Paramount Vantage and Miramax. The Clip is from the YouTube Channel "Critic Pop" Thanks!