While still being in quarantine, my mood led me to watch a film by Paul Thomas Anderson. The film I chose was his 2007 masterpiece, There Will Be Blood. What motivated me to choose this movie again is not just because of its brilliant plot, acting, or cinematography, but also because of how it is set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In an era where there was barely any technological advancement, most business involved long travel and complex logistics. This film explores the early days of the oil industry with much greed, hatred, and irreparable consequences in the hands of our main character and enemy Daniel Plainview (played by Daniel Day-Lewis). Day-Lewis won the Oscar for Best Actor, and the film also won for Best Cinematography. It is a film set in a haunting era that had its viewers compelled by its outcomes.
Daniel Plainview starts out as a silver miner. With his greed and lies, he uses his adopted son to help him grow a business as an oil prospector. Plainview and his adopted son make their way to empty land in California that is known to have tons of oil to be processed for growth and business. He acts like he is a family man (he uses his adopted son in networking scenarios), but he is a con artist. By creating scenarios that are based on lies from the past, Plainview convinces landowners to sell him property for oiling processes. The problem is the pastor of the town, Eli Sunday (played by Paul Dano), realizes people are losing what is valuable, violent disasters begin to arise. Plainview does not have a heart for anything that has been damaged due to his projects and business goals. Plainview only cares about his own earnings from processing more oil so he can be an even wealthier man.
Daniel Day-Lewis is always brilliant in the films he has starred in. However, in There Will Be Blood, his acting scenarios have some of the most memorable moments. He portrays the greedy personality, the evil background, and the attitude that is in denial whenever he believes it is a benefit to himself and others. His lines are also what sells his Oscar-worthy performance. and we see it in a moment of an oil disaster as he yells, “There’s a whole ocean of oil under our feet! No one can get at it except for me!” In that moment he does not care about how the disaster has impacted his adopted son or others that have been injured, he only cares that it signals more profit.
I find this movie to be a classic because of the tension created by the unrealistic promises that Plainview makes throughout the movie. That is what held my attention most in the times I have watched There Will Be Blood. Plainview makes promises regarding events or issues to resolve, but then he does the opposite. By Sunday being a pastor of his own church with strong religious belief, this makes him feel that the land that Plainview has purchased is cursed with more bad things to come. Sunday also believes that if Plainview rejects his requests then that sets off a curse with a life-threatening outcome. Plainview believes that Sunday’s strong religious beliefs and erratic behavior are getting in the way of him achieving his goals. These two sets of opposing beliefs become a cat and mouse game between the two that goes on throughout the movie. That conflict starts to escalate once Sunday realizes that the land is in the hands of Plainview.
Overall, There Will Be Blood is a film that I have grown to love over the years. At first, I was not into it, but it was one of those movies that slowly made me admire Paul Thomas Anderson. It made me come to realize that the slow and quiet tone is his style of filmmaking. When I watched it a couple more times, I grew to respect and admire the film since I enjoy watching the conflicts grow with the use of well-timed scoring and unexplained disasters. There Will Be Blood is a four- star rating film.